The miles and piles of snow have all but turned to soggy puddles, evaporated and carried off as condensation to the far side of the earth to flake down on some drunken SoHe "brews" before they kangaroo off a jump. So let's rewind this season back to the beginning of the last winter cycle, before those puddles were even snowflakes. As the season began in Europe, the valleys were filled with hope as we scanned the facebook horizon for any photos or signs of snow on Euro peaks, but all was quiet on the Western front, not even a tweet.
Awaiting with bated breath for the white gold, we danced on metal tubes as snowboarding witnessed the Return of the Rail Jam. With jib jams going down in urban zones from Oslo to Japan and regular comp dates being pushed back from the lack of snow, people were beginning to lose their already tenuous grip on reality as they wondered if the snow would ever fall. How is the snowboard industry supposed to run when people are hanging around in shorts? Meanwhile in Sweden, everyone is just naked. But suddenly, like a cured constipation the prune juice kicked in and turbo snow began to dump by Christmas time. So much snow that places like Greece were looking more like Switzerland. Well, at least the snowy side of it. After Mother Nature's early season bluff, things were back in order and all the Euros got to chow on major pow. Unfortunately the opposite happened in the US and people went hungry while copious amounts of extra fluffy radioactive snow fell over Japan.
On the comp side the FIS vs TTR drama flared out into the shredosphere. TTR was kicked out of the Olympic discotheque and denied any involvement in the qualification process while everyone waited for Shaun to say "Fuck FIS". The amount of landed triple corks tripled and will soon be the new standard. China got to find out what Air & Style is while ESPN showed us what Real Snow is all about. Nike selected "The Chosen" one, like the hand of god. The Supernatural hit big time, "fuckin' BOOM!", and the innaugural WSC had us all singing like Freddy Mercury that "We are the Champions (of the World)".
The social media grape vine grew at alarming rates, increasing the number of memes and tightening snowboarding's collective consciousness across the globe, from the things we wear, to what we say and the tricks we do. Instagram exploded into life and we officially lost everyone's attention and their chins while they stared at their palms. The trend towards online videos only amplified, to the point where even the most hardcore, full-length movie, DVD-producing crews are forced to post edits online to keep up with the race. Death lenses and Berrics-like cuts reminded us that we all just want to be skaters. It's official, literally everyone has a GoPro now and we saw enough POV's to trick our brains into thinking we got 100 days on the hill while sitting on the couch. The Art of Flight got more buzz than a beehive, Videograss tried to Shoot the Moon but in Retrospect realized that it's impossible, CAPiTA's superhero brigade led the charge in the Defense of Awesome, Think Thank joined in on the world's rebellions and ransacked the place, the D.O.P.E. kids took grimy to a whole new level of dopeness, Burton gave us air sickness with Standing Sidways, KBR got to meet you, COMUNE got us paranoid about the Russians again, Coldfocus took us for one last ride in the Ashely van and the Helgasons healed us with some Sexual Snowboarding!
Burton docked a huge cargo ship at ISPO and Ride stripped it down to what all the boys really wanted to see. Volcom went fishing while Forum took the expression "now boarding" literally and built an airport terminal. The talk of economic crisis has seeped further into our snowy utopia; a steep decline is usually a good thing in snowboarding, except when it's in sales! We will nonetheless occupy the peaks and get our shred on, even if we must resort to revolution.
Kevin Pearce is back! Instead of riding for him we are once again riding with him. Suddenly the most popular thing is totally free, as everyone was reminded to Drink Water in spite of the massive power surge of energy drinks. Bad rap is running rampant with Rick Ross and Juicy J jams burning through hills like wild fire. Electro was chased out the back door with a broom and is no longer acceptable in edits (unless it's a Sail remix by AWOLNATION). But if you're quiet you can hear a distinct echoing through the hills, as snowboarders exclaim "yeeeeew!" like snowboarding went country and we are riding at a rodeo and not down a powdery face. It took a few years but the black veil has finally eclipsed even the bright lights of Euro fashion. Still, we're certain the neon sun will soon rise again.
The best playgrounds for the kids to play starts with LAAX, Curnius is the longest run of fun in Europe. Meanwhile der Dachstein is keeping the rail riders dancing, Penken Park in Mayrhofen is keeping them twirling like tops off their perfect jumps, Area 43 in Meribel is challenging them on the regular with super creative features and make sure you sample Bardonecchia's scrumptious board park di bufala. On the other side of the pond, Bear will always reign supreme, 7 Springs in Pennsylvania brought The Streets to the mountain and Super Park at Mt. Bachelor was simply super.
So as we charge into a foretold apocalyptic 12/13 season with iPhone-eroded fingertips and a mix of fear, fervor and curiosity, somewhere in Russia a pipe dragon still slumbers in hibernation, soon to wake for the quadrennial Olympic circus. It's the only time the rest of the world actually cares about snowboarding, and global audiences will be fully exposed to our slope styles for the first time ever. Let's hope we are all still around to witness it in 2014! In the meanwhile kick back, enjoy a piña colada and let the Southern Hemisphere have their turn at winter. Whatever happens, whether we need to shape our own boards and walk to the mountain then hike up, whatever it takes we will do it to get our ride on. We always have. Long live snowboarding!