By Joel Muzzey
In snowboarding, we hold on tight to our legends-Kidwell, Kelly, Palmer, Sanders, Haakonsen, Lynn, et al. These larger-than-life riders make the myths for all of us. No doubt Shawn Farmer is an ironclad hero in this sport, but compared to other hall of famers, he’s something else entirely. His vertical exploits are well documented in photos and film, but the self-proclaimed godfather of soul is really nothing short of America’s last outlaw-you’ve heard the stories. Full throttle, nonstop-he’s lived his life truly on the margins. Never yielding and never resting on slack rock-star clichà‡s, Farmer is still here. Where will you be when it’s not cool anymore?
Why is snowboarding boring?
It just seems stale. It’s not boring for me personally, I rode one day last year and it was great-a powder day at June Mountain-but in general, pop culture’s just got me down, man. It drives me nuts-the constant bombardment of bullshit. I hate the radio stations. Forget the TV-I’m just overwhelmed by the whole media-presence thing. I mean the mainstream shit-how there’s always a TV screen pointed at you, a chick with big tits, a snowboarder, a skateboarder. It’s just not cool anymore. I want to see something new. Anything that was ever cool-the corporate media-circus money-machine just whores it out to the level that it all disgusts me. The music, the premade look, it all sucks. Maybe I’m jaded as hell, but it’s dead. It’s all about the money-and I’m not opposed to making money. It’s something we all have in common-if we’re not making that money, we’re pissed, right?
But I’ll still stay pissed even when I have money.
Why are we still talking about Shawn Farmer?
Because I’m the godfather of soul, man.
Do you feel like a legend?
Yeah, I guess. I was there. It’s all about the powder, I love it. When I ride pow, I feel like a god. There’s something about it-a sick-ass powder day. It’s like being superhuman, for me. The legend thing, though, I don’t know. To really be a legend, to perpetuate it, you have to die. But I don’t have a master plan-I thought I’d be dead by now.
Can you recall one of those “god” days?
Well, obviously when I straight-lined that chute back in the day in Utah, on Mount Superior-The Hidden Chute-that was a moment. Then I ate it at the bottom really hard because I hit avalanche debris. When you hit hard enough, your brain really gets rattled. There have been some sick ones in Alaska, too. I straight-lined Pythons, this peak back a ways in Valdez. It’s a continuous 45 degrees-I had to make some turns near the top. I laid down a few Euro-carves going like 60, then it just cliffed out-and I rode through that shit, too! I didn’t have eyewear on, so once I got up to top speed, I just froze. The tears were just coming down my face, and I was going fast-70?
I couldn’t see shit, and I just pointed the whole f-king thing.
Did you always scare the guys you were with?
Well, a good rule of thumb is, “Don’t follow Farm.”
To live up to your reputation, was there more pressure on the hill or off?
Both. I had some scary ones, but I think I’ve risked my life more in the mountains. We used to call ’em “soul-leavers,” when you got really close to death. If you get beat down or roll out of an avalanche-that’s a “soul-leaver.” And that’s what it’s all about for some of us-the fear.
You were ahead of the curve-white rapper and snowboard superstar in like 1990 …
You see this stuff coming. Kid Rock-I was doing that shit when he was a kid. I was rapping, flying off cliffs when Kid Rock was in sixth grade. Everyone knows about the snowboard stuff, but this other shit, I’ve been doing it for ages.
You have thousands of ideas …
I want to sell records, I want to make a movie. But I need money. If anyone out there has a hundred Gs, send it my way and watch it blow up. I have raps, but you need like five Gs to get a good beat done. I’ve been fooling around with these guys who are all, “Let’s do a song,” then I get the beat back and it’s some weak-ass shit. You gotta pay to play-and you get a weak beat when you’ve got no money.
Do you feel appreciated within the sport?
Yeah, it’s cool. I think it’s easy to forget the soul of sports, the old guys. What I did can never be duplicated. Those early days-there will never be anything like that again. Society isn’t even the same anymore. The whole mind-set was so cool back then-it was different. It wasn’t on a soda bottle at 7Eleven. People didn’t even know what it was. In order to find the cool things in life-the truth, I guess you could call it-you have to search. But now, there’s no search-they’re trying to sell you the truth. And it’s all a lie. This whole monkey-circus show-it partly progresses the sport, but at the same time it just washes it out. People are doing shit for the wrong reasons. Think about having some f-king fun instead.