Snowboarding is not a crime
Back in the 90s I was a young skater who proudly displayed the sticker ‘skateboard is not a crime’ under his board. Often, because of the slides on the benches, the word ‘not’ was crossed out and it read ‘skateboard is a crime’, which my father, a police officer, was not very proud of.
A little later the first snowboards started to appear. A few evenings as a waiter in the local bar and there I was with my savings buying my first equipment, a Nidecker Camille Brichet twin tip board, Drake bindings and Airwalk boots.
In those years there was a strong sense of community, few but united, all together we claimed the right to access the lifts, but nothing. The resorts didn’t want to give us ski passes, they said we were ruining the slopes.
I was just a kid, studying photography. I hated it, but at the same time I loved that moment when they denied me the possibility of buying a ski pass, because I felt I wasn’t part of a system, I felt like a transgressor walking up the slopes. And I liked it.
Years went by, I started taking pictures of snowboards for some magazines, and even though year after year the ski resorts started to give us ski passes, we were always labelled as “offenders” because we went off-piste, we built jumps in the slopes by hand, we went up the rails with our boards. We were often asked for our documents by the police or our boards were confiscated at the end of the day.
Then all of a sudden, alienated and dissatisfied men, bored with their office jobs and the walls of their homes, began to be attracted to the strange phenomenon of snowboarding, this lifestyle, this transgression. Skiing had become terribly boring.
Week after week you see more and more snowboarders in the resorts, more and more jumps, parks, events and parties where you don’t go home with a girl if you come dressed as a skier.
The attraction to transgression, even if only for a few hours, was too strong. Lawyers disguised themselves with improbable bright colours and went crazy at the parties, entrepreneurs, workers, students, nobody was missing. There was no distinction, they raided by day and partied by night. And then, on Monday, we would tie our ties and go back to the grey lives and the system that had been imposed on us.
The Olympics arrived and Terje Haakonsen, the most influential rider in history, immediately turned against them, saying in an interview: “I hate the Olympics. They are stealing snowboarding from us. They will destroy our sport.
Here comes 2020. The Covid19. The lockdown. The closure of the lifts. You can’t stray far from home beyond your municipality.
But for some people snow is more important than the air they breathe, so the only illegal solution is to take skins and splits, walk for hours, savour the taste of toil and sweat and earn every single centimetre of powder, immaculate, perfect.
So you load your board into the car, well hidden by blankets, illegally cross the border, park in a secluded place and walk to the top. Sweat, toil, perseverance. Finally you reach the top. “Violator’ is the adjective that rumbles through your head before you drop. A flashback to the 90s, when you were a “transgressor” just for being a snowboarder. Again, for love, you transgress, you become part of a community again. And only those who are part of it can recognise the smile on your face when you come back from the mountain.
Snowboard is not a crime (anymore).