This story originally appeared in the Variables section of the January 2015 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding. Click here to subscribe.
Words: Preston Strout
History is messy, and prone to heated debate, but it’s hard to deny that snowboarders have been misusing the term Indy for over two decades.
Early freestyle snowboarders who skateboarded, naturally adopted skateboard trick names to describe what they were doing on the snow. Over time, many of these names have been used incorrectly, but none worse than the Indy. During the mid-'90s, all toe edge grabs with the rear hand, in between the bindings, were unfortunately generalized by announcers and magazines, as Indy grabs, regardless of which direction the rider was spinning. This led to a mass miseducation, and incorrect statements like, "he did a frontside 360 Indy." The problem with this, pointed out by those who know better, is that there is no such thing as a frontside Indy.
The term Indy, named after the Independent Truck Company* by skateboarder Duane Peters (who popularized this grab around 1980) was in specific reference to grabbing with your back hand, between your feet while rotating backside. There was already a term for this grab going frontside—the frontside grab. Freestyle snowboard pioneer and life-long skateboarder Todd Richards confirms that, "it’s inherently a frontside grab, unless you are going backside." Richard’s clarification also rules out referring to a straight air with this grab as an Indy.
To those accustomed to mislabeling this grab an Indy, it may sound strange at first to say a frontside 360 frontside grab, but that is the correct way to say it. Some will argue that if all snowboarders are calling a grab the same thing, even if its wrong, then like it or not, that’s now the name in snowboarding. Well, that may be true, but that also means we all sound ignorant to the ears of history, and skateboarders. Although skateboarding and snowboarding are very different beasts, there are undeniable parallels, and if we are going to use skate terminology to label snowboard tricks, we should respectfully retain the original definitions. If we’re not going to stick to this method, why even use skate terms?
*Which is why Indy should always be capitalized, as it’s technically a proper noun.