We try to take too much from skateboarding. We name tricks after theirs, despite ours bearing no relation to their namesakes. We follow their fashion trends, despite how impractical for mountain life they are. Yet skateboarding is without question the most popular ‘extreme sport’ and there is a lot skiing can learn from it’s success, starting with the following 5 principles:
Jake Johnson, no caption needed
1. Park tricks don’t count.
Sorry, but it’s too easy to film a park edit these days and as a result there are far too many. That's why park footage has long since been dismissed as irrelevant in skateboarding. Yes, they have the Berrics and people film little park clips with their friends but nobody is taken seriously until they get off their ass and film a good street part. As skiers we even have more options than they do. Go kill it inbounds like Sander Hadley, paint lines on a blank canvas like Nimbus or go drop bombs in a city like Stept. Go film something new and different. Oh and from the viewer’s point of view, stop acting like it’s the second coming every time someone does a stylish cork 7 on a park jump. If everyone is forced to leave the park to get noticed, we’ll get to see a lot more interesting skiing.
2. Brands should give back or get out.
Seriously, how many ski brands chuck a couple of pairs of skis at the latest flavour of the month and give nothing else back. Sure skateboarding has Nike, Adidas and countless others grabbing a piece of the pie but every one of them has to back a whole rostrum of pros, sponsor videos and contests, produce their own content and generally support the industry financially. If we, the consumers, forced ski brands to do the same by thinking more about our purchases, the whole industry could be a lot stronger.
Nike SB Shelter in Berlin
3. Support skier owned brands
Despite the amount money pumped into marketing the sportswear brands, a large chunk of skateboarders won’t buy from brands that aren’t skater owned. The result is ‘core’ skateboard brands that stand tall alongside the big boys. Think Emerica, Etnies, Supra, Baker, Girl/Chocolate, Toy Machine and many more. We’re starting to get the idea in skiing but we’re a long way behind. ON3P, Moment and J-Skis are all growing fast but none of them really competes on a the same level yet. These new young brands are definitely something that we should get behind, not least because it will force the big brands to give more back.
4. It’s fine to do triples, just don’t make such a fuss about it.
Yes, Shane O’neill does switch double tre flips in Street League and yes, people do wacky ass shit in the Battle of the Berrics. But most pro skaters keep the circus tricks to a minimum. Therein lies the beauty of skating. Different ways are found to be technical, be it new spots, rough ground, awkward transitions etc. There are countless kids on Youtube that can quadruple kickflip in a skatepark and aside from the odd Youtube goon, no-one cares. It’s an attitude that keeps things fresh and crucially, relatable for the general public. If your average person switches on Olympic Slopestyle, they think “that looks cool but I could never risk that”. Turn on skateboarding and it looks achievable, so people give it a go. Sure skiing will always be less accessible, it needs snow and expensive kit to even start. But if you lose the connection to the everyday punter then the sport dies. I know it's cliché, but look at aerials.
5. Get in a van and go on tour.
Skateboard marketing is dominated by video but the brands have long since realised this alone isn’t enough. Sure it’s great to blow minds with a crazy video part but what people really remember is the day you turn up and ride their local park with them. Every skate company goes on tour and ski brands should do the same. The Inspired Demo Tour and Tell a Friend Tour (which incidentally deserved much more support) were amazing. Line Traveling Circus came to the the UK to ski indoors. I have so much respect for those guys making the effort but it should be commonplace. A number of US skate teams roll through my hometown of London every year, yet I could only think of 3 examples of skiers running demo tours anywhere, sort it out.