Style: Nothing Else Matters

Mikkel Bang says, “JP Solberg was my first and biggest influence because he always held the grab all the way: tweaked, so smooth, and so much control, kind of G style. Nicolas Müller, of course. He reads the mountain so well and boom—huge method out of something. I remember I got to ride pow with him in 2003 in Italy. Ever since then, he has been a huge inspiration for my riding.”

If it feels like some of these names are being drilled into your head, good. That was the point. Riders like Craig Kelly, Terry Kidwell, Chris Roach, Noah Salasnek, Scotty Wittlake, and others, plus the very members of our esteemed panel are all contributors to the survival of style in snowboarding

No Contest

Trick progression and competition are the two main factors affecting style as snowboarding slides toward its fifth Olympic appearance. Mikkel Bang is a guy on the frontlines of this battleground. He says, “Contests have not supported style as much as they should. If we forget about style in contests, snowboarding will turn into some kind of gymnastic sport. It’s already pretty f—king bad because it seems like not everybody cares. Some people focus too much on being the best these days.”

Danny Davis will be grateful when doubles are dead. Tricks come and tricks go but style doesn’t fade away. Euro X Games, Tignes, France. PHOTO: Gabe L’Heureux

Danny Davis’ take: “In contests, you have to sacrifice your style sometimes. It’s super f—ked up. It’s been going on for a few years, but it’s really happening right now. Because of contests like the Olympics, eventually everyone will just be doing 12, 12, 12, double 12, 14, double 12, whatever. And you have these coaches—a kid learns front five and the coach is like, let’s go front seven, then front nine. The coaches and the parents just want that next thing. Because Louie Vito’s doing front 12s, their kid has to get front 12s if he’s ever gonna be a real snowboarding athlete. So style is going out the window. It’s a bummer. So many kids are just getting the trick done, just getting that double back rodeo done with no attention to making it look sick.” Judging is also increasingly suspect. Dan says, “It’s so contest-to-contest. Like, if you go to a Grand Prix, you better believe that a sick stylish air-to-fakie isn’t gonna get half the score as some kid doing a sketchy double-cork that he somehow pulls off. At some contests you just want to say, ‘F—k it. I’ll do what I want to do and at least have some fun.’” Read that last sentence again. Damn.

Dan continues, “Does style matter? It depends who you ask and what part of snowboarding you’re talking about. If you’re filming a video part, you better be worrying about style all day. Unfortunately, if you’re a competitor, it doesn’t seem to matter so much.” No, it probably doesn’t matter to the corpo pinheads tabulating contest TV ratings or crossover UFC fans flipping through the channels looking for the next ad-banked extreme sports spectacle, but it matters.

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