Snowboarding’s Boogie Nights

In Boogie Nights, the disco-addled, multi-decade, behind the scenes view of the porn scene, Marky Mark’s character, Dirk Diggler, is “discovered” by Burt Reynolds’ character. Not only does Diggler have a huge package, he’s a great “actor.” In pornography, he finds his calling, his special purpose in life. His favorite thing in the world, the thing he knows he’s best at, is sex. After meeting the biggest adult film director in LA, he finds that he can make a life out of his favorite activity. Sex all day, party all night, and money in his pocket. Sounds like a disco song. The beauty of this symbiotic synchronicity pulls one into the first part of the film.

Sound familiar? Ride all day, party all night, and money in your pocket. The dream of turning snowboarding into one’s life drives many. What could be better than snowboarding full-time and becoming a star in the process?

Nothing. So Marky Mark flies to the top, winning all the porn awards,living large, buying cars, partying full-time. Hell even when he’s working, he’s partying because having sex is his job. Paradise! There’s nothing better than being the best at what you do, especially if you organically love it. I recently overheard someone ask a pro surfer, “What do you do for vacation?” He laughed and replied “Good question,” but there was a certain hint of sadness in his voice.

There is a downside to making what you love your full-time job. Everyone from Craig Kelly to Terjé runs into the post-climax of snowboarding full time. Of course it’s not that these pros lose their love of snowboarding. When they don’t ride for any extended period of time, they get all itchy and mad. But anything becomes a job when it’s your job. And even when you snowboard full time, there’s a difference between riding for a shoot and riding with your friends. The challenge is to prevent the former from tainting the latter.

Dirk Diggler had the same trouble in Boogie Nights. At the beginning, he was superman. He could have sex a million times, stop in the middle, last forever, and above all, “make it really sexy.” As time went on, though, it became increasingly difficult for him to get it up.

Of course it wasn’t exactly the same. He was a coke fiend. But let’s just pretend that the coke was a metaphor for burnout in general. To make matters worse, the porn film industry was switching to video. All the soul was spilling away as fake tits, fast production, and home viewing replaced the artful stylings of Burt Reynolds and our hero.

The last couple of seasons have brought a similar vibe to snowboarding. The magic is gone for many, which makes the burnout loom closer. Many are in the situation of our hero, trying to manage their burnout by doing other things or trying to find the spark that got them into snowboarding in the first place. I recently talked to an insider who has discovered mountain biking (no, not Palmer). His learning curve is steep; he improves every day. He feels on a single track the way he used to feel in the snow: ecstatic. Like Marky Mark, when he went into the recording studio, my friend is digging deep for inspiration.

In snowboarding, you keep hearing the word consolidation. Everyone I know has had a weird weird year. The big company offered a deal nobody could refuse. The numbers just were not adding up for the investors and poof! company goes bye bye. Consolidation and bankruptcy is incredibly depressing for a young entrepreneur. It feels like failure. You go out there and you make a life out of what you love to do, you risk everything, find success, and then the world turns and your bold move becomes a failure.

Some friends of mine are trying to adapt after their companies disappear; they’re looking to find inspiration in an industry with which they no longer identify. This is the plight of Burt Reynolds’ character. He was truly inspired by porn. It was art in the best definition of the word: it inspired and pleased the eye. As the adult film iindustry lost the art, Reynolds struggled to stay inspired. Without his muse it was difficult.

At the end of Boogie Nights, everything is back on track: our hero goes back to Burt Reynolds and returns his golden touch to porn, Rollergirl goes to school, everyone is family again like in the beginning. This is the disturbing part of the movie. We don’t get the feeling that Marky Mark is inspired by sex or porn anymore. It seems more like he has no other choice. This is to be avoided.

Change happens. In snowboarding it happens faster. The world is totally unstable and for most of us in our 20s, the last few years encompasses our entire professional lives. How amazing that people have realized their dreams in snowboarding in just a few short years? The present state of the sport is a new challenge for everyone. Sure there’s a lot of questionable energy coming in, but with it come some great stuff too. Weeding out the bad and appreciating the good is the challenge. Everybody’s gotta make surethey’re going with the flow and at the same time, doing what makes them happy. Marky Mark may have only had one choice. We have many.

Kind of ironic, when you think about it.