Alright guys. It’s hard to admit, but this is Newschoolers, so I feel like its okay to tell you. I have a problem. It’s something that’s been plaguing me for awhile, undetected at first, but now in a full-on addiction. My mom doesn’t know how to handle it, some of my friends don’t understand it, but the glazed look on my eyes says it all.
It probably started about five years ago. Skiing was beginning to control my life, dictating every weekend, separating me from my girlfriends at the mall and putting me on the slopes with the boys. I spent my life at the mountain, but soon came to realize that my problem originated there. I knew some other people probably had the same issue as me, staring off for minutes at a time in one direction, but it wasn’t something we really talked about. No adults would understand if I had tried to tell them. I didn’t know what to do. It didn’t matter where I was, on the school property, in the car, or anywhere for that matter-- it was all I did and all I thought about.
How was I supposed to tell everyone that my eyes didn’t work right? Every stair set was a possibility for a jib, every ledge- a drop. The things I saw in my daily life became a list of opportunities.
It didn’t exactly dawn on me how much I did this until last week on my way to my new job in downtown Syracuse. I crossed the street as the red “DON’T WALK” sign silently screamed at me. I scuffed along, biting on the inside of my cheek as I approached the building that I would be spending the next 6-8 hours in. My eyes dodged around, knowing that fluorescent lights and ringing phones is all I would be looking at soon. And then I saw them.
To my right was a beautiful ledge drop, just asking to be smothered in snow like it was for six months out of the year. The green grass was unsettling to see, awkwardly fitting like a new shirt. I wanted to skip work and jump off it all day. My eyes fluttered at the idea, but I kept walking. I had money making ahead of me, and the result of jumping four feet in heels didn’t seem like it would end well.
But I could taste it. I have never hit an urban jib myself, but being able to film, is just as thrilling. I’m encompassed with the nervous rush, remembering in particular my first experience of documenting illegal slaying.
I had been eyeing the schools stairs since I could remember, driving past them on the way to get gas or moseying by on a walk with the neighbor’s dog. Skill-less on my own, I told friends who had been suffering the same addiction, to try and conquer it. After realizing that my town held better options than at the middle school, I led my friends up to a different location.
As they set up their step-ladder, I nervously fumbled with the camera. Any loud yelps or crashes and we were sure to get reported on. My practiced skill of worrying overtook me, as I constantly panned the area for the property owner to show themselves, shaking a finger with threats of bringing in the bacon. But against my premonitions, we got the shots and left the site, while also leaving a craving within me.
Losing my urban-trek virginity in Syracuse
Your first high of urban jibbing is different. The park, although dangerous, provides promises. Maybe your own mom isn’t there to tend to you as you fall into a landing, but Mother Nature has thought ahead and left you a blanket of white. Whether it’s the coarse, wooly blanket of East Coast ice, or the soft, downy pillows of Westside pow, there’s something there to catch you. Taking to the streets doesn’t have this security.
This is where the trance takes over. As your eyes feast at the idea of a beautiful slaying, your brain takes a backseat. Safety is not an issue. Every summer, skiers everywhere throw themselves into cement, bashing bone against an immobile base. The streets aren’t hard for just the true Gs. Maybe you’d think the real hard-knocks would be found in the rough parts of LA or NY, but I strongly beg to differ. The contours of a city can be conquered with hand-built drop ins and gouged bases, not by busted 9s and sharp knives. It’s just a matter of how you handle them. Seeing as how there are two types of people who run the streets, I wondered how many people of the skiing type experienced the same feelings as me.
I thought I was the only one facing the daily problems with addiction, but I slowly learned I was not alone. Newschoolers of whom I know personally, seem to face the same daily struggle that I do. Upon contact with long-time jibber and top-100 member, Dweezil, I learned of a teenage boy who understood my situation.
Jack has been skiing for 16 years. He seems like your average guy, passionate about skiing just like the rest of us. I knew Sir Dweezil shared the same eye for jibbing, as he was one of the ones who took me on my first urban assault. I asked him if he could remember a time where he realized he was not alone in having an eye for rails, and he began, “Well I mean, I guess I should tell a story, since that’s what seems to put lead in everybody’s pencil. I was on vacation in Block Island, a place many of you may know. If you knew, then you would know. But for everyone else, the place is referred to as the Bermuda of the north. It's a quaint little pork-chop shaped number that’s bitter and windblown in the winter, and balmy in the summer. So I was cruising around on my bike, and happen upon a handrail. After sitting by the handrail for a while, and investing considerable time in trying to figure out how to get snow to the rail, I get approached by a worker from a nearby establishment. He tells me simply to give up on trying to hit the rail, because coming to the island just isn't worth it during the winter, and carting ice rink snow across the ferry would just be too darn expensive. The man was a worker from a nearby Ben and Jerry’s.”
Dweezil gets down and dirty jumping not only chain-link fences, but also people.
I used to ask myself “Is this secret obsession centralized to just the city of Syracuse?” But after Jack’s story, I had to wonder if maybe this was only an issue that infected the East Coast, an area where snow is never taken for granted, and ice rinks are like hidden treasure. Further investigation proves otherwise.
Treating America like his lake, and the states like his lily pads, Line skier Giray Dadali is known not only as an East Coast shredder, but a young bottle of energy. Although young 'Gary' may be controlling some of the jib scene, there is one thing he can't control; his cravings of urban carnage. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO SUCK DICK FOR GAS MONEY TO HIT RAILS?!!", the young Dadali shouts in frustration, holding back tears as I press the tough questions. It’s hard for the soon-to-be high school grad to talk about, as he is deep in addiction and still young in age. Starting his urban missions so long ago, Giray has a pretty high tolerance, known for turning the nastiest handrails into his biddy for the day. While Giray continues to destroy the winter scene, it is still impressive to see where his Subie takes him in the summer. As a ticket of freedom is handed to Giray in the shape of a diploma, we can only wonder where his addiction will take him in the coming years. After years of railing railings on the East, we have no doubt that Western snow will not stop him.
Giray on the streets steezing it out. I think this shot might've been worth the gas money bargain, Giray.
A fellow born-East, gone-West rider, Tom Wallisch, might be able to provide some advice to riders like Giray, and others falling deeper and deeper into cravings. Once riding in PA, and now shooting with Level 1, Tom has experienced hometown jibbing and hitting it in the limelight. No matter where he is or how many people know his name, Tom still gets the same feeling. “Spotting an urban jib during an everyday outing is sort of like spotting a long forgotten friend from the old days. You may or may not have known or remembered she existed but now that you’ve seen her, the only thing to do is run over and catch up on things. You go catch up on everything and maybe take a picture or two for memories,” he says with a laugh. Noting how Tom has also been able to travel to a variety of places, he mentions how his craving still lingers. “Whenever I spot an urban jib no matter where I am, could even be in Hawaii… all I can think about is the possibilities for that feature. What tricks I could do on it, where you could film from, how to set it up, where to get snow from, and countless others. It’s a certain mindset only skiers and snowboarders that really love the sport possess and yes it truly is an addiction.”
Tom "taking a picture for the memories" on some classy kinks.
After being able to discuss the levels of urban-addiction amongst three boys with an obvious problem, I had to consider the fact that I was different. Bearing a username in a pink hue, I admit that I am in fact a girl skier. While the species is growing, I contemplated how many lady riders were also stricken by moments of architectural awe. Confiding my problem in my close friend, NS’s very own and very adorable sugarloaf, I found I wasn’t alone.
I checked my voicemail and found that sugarloaf had returned my call. The message began with a long pause and then proceeded. “My name's Colleen, and I have a problem,” she says nervously. Between the heavy sighs, the story of Colleen’s addiction begins to seep out, beginning with her first pair of twin tips and the promising 04/05 season. She mulled around on the past, stating that she, “learned a lot that season. One of the milestones was that I learned how to slide rails-- it was a big year.” She continued after a moment, savoring her words like they could possibly bring her back to the high she felt in that season. Much like Jack, Colleen realized she might have a problem as soon as she went on vacation. “See, I love skiing. I love skiing just as much as anyone who was put on skis just after learning how to walk would. Skiing's in my blood, but normally I can go down to FLA and enjoy myself and relax on the beach and love being warm,” Colleen rattles unclearly as the pace in her voice quickens. Just talking about such a topic makes her heart skip a beat. She slowed down and regained herself. “But this trip....this trip was when I truly realized something. I realized that I had a problem.” Spending the week in a snowless area, Coll resorted to the pastime that many off-season freeskiers have, freestyle walking. With no skis within her reach she noticed, “That I couldn't stop spinning off of curbs, benches, or anything else that happened to be around. And that was just the start of it.”
Being a dear friend to Colleen’s mother Nancy, I gave her a ring to check-out the situation. She remembers the vacation as I picture her shaking her head on the other line. “Everyone got sick of it,” she says with frustration. “The whole family was starting to get annoyed and straight up…” she holds her tongue and searches for the right word, “…bothered with Colleen pointing out every single skiable rail in Vero Beach and the surrounding vicinity.” I sense a nervous mother and begin to wrap up the conversation, hearing an upset tone in her voice. She quietly mutters, “This is a problem,” and hangs up the phone, leaving me to ponder the state of my dear friend.
Minutes pass and I’m still listening to Colleen’s message. I fast forward the tape and walk away for a second, listening as I wander. “Everywhere I go, I see a rail and I just have to go check it out. I have to tell everyone that there's a rail there and it’s sick and that I have to come back in the winter to hit it.”
Cliche, yet true. Colleen is so Red Bull.
In the midst of knowing how crazy this may sound, I understand what she’s saying wholly. It seems like my addiction isn’t something I should call up MTV’s True Life over. The skier is always going to be the kind of person who has cravings; since we let our lives become dictated by unreliable clouds full of snow. Although some of us are able to hit urban jibs in the winter, many riders can agree that the grueling months of summer can sometimes lead you to riding on bare landings. From East Coast to West, we have been able to talk to riders who understand the highs of hitting something that others glide with their hands-- while skiers hit them with their feet. We also note the lows of the off season or pot-bellied po-po. With each rider I talked to, I met different stories and different faces of addiction. Even though each rider’s story of being an addict is unique, Tom Wallisch purely summed up the feelings of those living with their addiction to jibbing. “I’ll admit I have a problem… but I don’t need therapy for it.”
Thanks to Jack, Giray, Tom, Colleen, and of course, Nancy, for their time and unabashed emotions.
**Note-- no persons have any type of real addiction that would classify them as ready to ship off in a straight-jacket. Skiing does not harm your brain, and all riders featured are happy and healthy human beings.**