Home is where the web page is¿at least that’s how it is more and more, now that pro snowboarders are building and maintaining their own sites.
Of the many reasons why, the three most cited go like this: To promote themselves and sponsors (and attract new ones), to stay in touch with the fans, and to just plain have something to do when the snow is bunk. Web searches for snowboarding will bring up “Jeff’s Hardcore Snowboarding Page,” “A Kid Called Tweeker Shred Master,” and “Lets sic Just F###in’ Ride.” Browsing for pros would likely take you to a sponsor’s home page. But now, key in travisparker.com and go straight to the source¿like the Internet intended.
“I do it all myself,” says Parker ( www. travisparker.com), who just relocated from Utah to Tahoe. “I update the opening page once a week or so. I’m always on my computer, so it’s something I’m interested in. It keeps me in touch with people who are stoked on what I’m doing.” Parker says he learned the skills from his programmer brother who has a computer science degree and maintains some six websites. From there, Parker supplies links to his sponsors, past coverage, and digital pictures he takes. “A lot of it is joking-around stuff,” he says, “I need to do some work on it. I want to learn Flash.”
Once Parker does, he’ll probably be as unstoppable as he is on slope. Since they are pro riders and not programmers, most sites fall into the simple point-and-click category. There’s Mark Fawcett (dynamicinfo.nb.ca/fawcett/), Ryan Queen (ryanqueen.com), Janean Soltis ( janeansoltis.com) and Tanya Simonson ( tanyasimonson.com). Generally, these include a profile, titles, results, coverage, and the obligatory links to sponsor sites. Punch up similar offerings from Nicola Thost ( nicola thost.com ), and Keir Dillon keir dillon.com).
Then there are those who go far beyond the online resumé. Jason Brown ( jason brown.com) is a longtime cybernaut who is said to maintain a site just for Star Wars trivia. Now Chris Engelsman has joined the fray, employing Nemo Design to build a winter environment ( chris engelsman.com) complete with sound, animation, and tracers that follow the cursor’s path like a bad acid flashback.
“Basically it’s just blatant self-promotion,” Engelsman laughs. “I definitely threw down a chunk of change to get it running. Nobody has really had their site done professionally, they’ve all done theirs themselves. I tried, but I don’t have the time or computer knowledge to make it look the way I wanted it to. I didn’t want it to look amateurish, I wanted it to look legit.”
Thanks to the work of web designer Dominic Orlando, Engelsman’s site looks too legit to quit. Orlando has done work for filmmaker Whitey ( kingpin productions .com) and photographer Chris O’Connel ( chris oconnel.com) as well as his own fluorinelabs.com. He was freelancing for Nemo on their website when Creative Director Trevor Graves put him to work with Engelsman.
“I didn’t want to have a bunch of text with ‘contact me,’ as the first thing you see,” Orlando, who now works in L.A. says. “Chris wanted something simple and cool, with no music. So I’d give him snippets and he’d say yea. He was a fun, easy client to work with.” Orlando has been designing just a couple years, but the site is more sophisticated than most manufacturers’ home pages. “I started writing HTML, then I got into web design with Shockwave, but Flash is mostly what I work with now to get the sounds and animation,” Orlando sayys. “It used to be a drawback, but if people don’t have it now, they’re behind. It’s like not having a telephone.”
Besides the top three reasons mentioned above, Engelsman has a fourth for seeking professional help¿for the time being, he’s selling his line of E-Tree clothing on site. Then there’s still another group of riders like Michele Taggart, Mike Basich, Mike Michalchuk and others who feed information to squintdog.com to post for them. The motive is profit as well as promotion¿all of them own equity in the site.
“When you type in ‘ michele taggart.com‘ this is where it goes,” Taggart says. “I think it’s neat, there’s all kinds of opportunities to have fun and be creative. On the message boards you get to know people. I can chat more one-to-one.” Taggart says plans are to put up links so you can order each riders’ gear right from the site. But even with such technological advance, the main problem stays the same: Where do you find time for content in a pro’s hectic travel schedule?
“In the off-season I can, but the season is too busy.” Taggart says, “I’m not traveling with my computer.”
©opyright 2000 by Billy Miller, all rights reserved