Plenty of teenagers lead dual lives. Whether lurking in sinister anonymity or posting exploits on Facebook, every kid in America seems to have an internet persona. It might be trite or shallow to say that a website or blog has changed my life, but in the esoteric world of freeride skiing, newschoolers.com is essential to my existence.
Freestyle was born from “hot dog” skiing, a style in which the rider wears neon colors and skis moguls in a “hot” fashion. It evolved into the heavily structured aerials and moguls that still exist today in the Olympics. As this type of skiing progressed, many of the athletes realized that they wanted their old, unstructured sport back. Younger kids began to introduce off-axis spins and grabs. Snowboarding was peaking at this time, and skiers wanted a sport in which they could be creative. The invention of twin-tip skis brought the possibility of skiing backwards, or “switch.”
I was lucky enough to grow up in a mountain community, work with exceptionally skilled coaches, and access world class training facilities. But the freeskiing world is one of daily innovation. Revolutionary maneuvers are imitated almost instantaneously after new videos are posted. The cult-like devotion of the website’s followers is astonishing. If I don’t monitor it daily, I may be left behind in a matter of days. The style of the sport changes as well. One day, fist-pumping is the right thing to do after landing a trick; the next day it is forbidden. People can go from unknown to professional in no time. A small-town Pennsylvania skier, riding at his local mountain, decided to make a video. That viral video catapulted him to professional status in just a few weeks and allowed him to compete at international contests he had formerly watched on TV. Thousands of others others, like me, seek to emulate him.
On newschoolers.com, I have discussed technique and style with kids from Sweden and France. Once, I helped a kid in Wisconsin with a math problem he didn’t understand. In another instance, a pair of prototype skis was stolen from a small company trying to get their new idea on the market. The community banded together, found the culprit, spoke with him, and had him turn himself in. The new company got the publicity it needed and was able to sell the new skis, and the thief was prosecuted.
Newschoolers.com has honed my video-editing skills and photographic perspective under the harsh scrutiny of creative peers. I’ve been praised and reviled. I’ve learned to market myself selfishly and humble myself quietly. The tightly-knit freeskiing community allows for unprecedented access to industry representatives and emergent professionals. I know that it is unlikely that I will become a professional skier, but like any other teenage boy, I can’t help but dream. Newschoolers.com gives me with the tools and the community to expand my vision; I can’t wait to see where the future will take me.