The ideal snowboarder rises early, effortlessly opening up a pair of perfectly white and deep-blue eyes. Not a trace of red-eye needs to be removed, nor any stains of nicotine or wine from any of the 32 dentist-sculpted teeth. His skin is what the beauty advertising industry would describe as firm and well toned. He is The Man.
The ideal snowboarder charges up for the day by preparing a healthy mix of fresh fruit, juices, eggs, yoghurt and granola muesli. After having filled his body up to the top, he changes – no no, he wouldn’t dream of having breakfast in a smelly pair of underwear – into a set of casual yet fashionable, comfortable and practical undergarments. It’s almost as if this set had a scent of lively fragrance to them, spiked with freshness and sensuality. It’s as if he didn’t ride the day before, but instead went to a designer dry cleaner to pick them up. The image of him with them could have been taken out of a Chanel billboard, muscle mass and shape protruding where they should.
He adds a set of the latest tech outerwear, dyed in the colours shown on the Milan catwalk during the autumn. This may seem sort of odd, as designers of outerwear prepare their look for a season at least 12 months in advance, but you see, the ideal snowboarder just happens to have a set of hand-made prototypes for next season. He got them for free from the managing director of the brand, of course, as a gift for just being himself. No puppet-strings attached to them. “Oh no, just use them if you feel like it and let us know if there’s anything we can improve on. We’re not asking you to sell-out or anything, you know. That’s what The Other companies do.” Another set of freebies are the pair of light, stable and warm boots he steps into, colour-coded to match and complement his equally light, stable and durable bindings.
Although looking almost impossible from a distance, the run appears both enjoyable and smooth.
He picks up his board on the way to the gondola. It’s been in the corest ski-shop in town overnight, where a former sixth-time downhill world champion has tuned the edges and waxed the base with flour-based waxes mixed for the snow structure of the day. A few fashionably clad girls on their way home from a late-closing bar whistle and giggle as they see him loading his Mach Z snowmobile onto his truck, a V8 Chevy Avalanche 2500 LT.
Even though it has snowed heavily the night before, he’s the first one dressed for riding at the base station. As always, the liftie recognises him and lets him under the rope for a dawn patrol ride with the ski patrol. Just before the gondola door closes, the girl working in the cafeteria passes him a paper bag. Inside the bag is a steaming latté and a freshly baked Schwartsbierbrot, still warm from the oven. He did date her once, and even though he continued on to other adventures, she never forgot him.
Long before they reach the rest of us still down in the valley, the first rays of light glance the horizon and the ideal snowboarder. He smiles back at them just before dropping into one of the steepest, yet most unknown, chutes anywhere in the Alps. Although looking almost impossible from a distance, involving several drops at critical places, the run appears both enjoyable and smooth. Just by accident, a top cameraman happened to be sitting on an opposite hillside and spotted the ride. With a telephoto lens he captures the complete run in high-quality images – images which will later make the cover, the contents page and the centre spread of several international snowboarding magazines.
You’d think this guy invented the afterbang at birth after landing on his feet in front of the midwife.
The ideal snowboarder enjoys a hearty – and free – lunch in the cafeteria, hooking up with some mates. They play a game of pinball and of course he sets a new high score. When he picks up his board it has auto-magically been shortened and widened into a smooth freestyle shape. It is also light as a hummingbird feather. The bindings have arranged themselves to duck-stance, perfect for ruling in the park or pipe.
Our hero opts for the park first, pointing it for each kicker, yet always landing each air smoothly near the bottom of the sweet-spot. It looks so effortless that you’d think this guy invented the afterbang at birth after landing on his feet in front of the midwife. At the bottom of the run, near the area where the crew hangs out, a new rainbow S-rail has been installed. Naturally he is the first one to clear it – first try too! The crowd watching cheers. A young boy asks if he is Shaun White’s older brother or Shaun Palmer’s younger one. This is answered with a sincere laugh and a kind lesson in how to improve the boy’s own attempts at sliding rails.
Having made himself king of the park, the pipe is then conquered. After each well-tweaked run our hero hikes back up, spending more air on cheering other riders than on his own breathing. Even though he never “practices” anything, his stamina would allow him to hike a pipe the length of Mt Blanc. Even though the temperature now has dropped to well below 20, not even his boogers freeze.
As the ski area closes he hangs out with his mates in the lodge for a while, listening to stories from the day. When asked for his own story, he smiles shyly and says it was “a good day, it’s always good riding with friends”.
He spends a few hours helping out at the local charity and then jams with his band.
He spends a few hours helping out at the local charity and then jams with his band. He is the lead singer in a heavy-rock band, with just the right amount of irony in their appearance. Later that night – after a gourmet style dinner targetted for the lifestyle of an athlete but with a large amount of beer to accompany it – the band plays a few songs at the local club. As our man signs large numbers of autographs on the skin of misty-eyed indie-girls, a talent scout from Sony Records steps out of the shadows to introduce himself. “Have you signed with any major label yet? If not, please take my card. Give me a call when you feel ready for the big time.”
The bartender passes a free beer to the ideal snowboarder as he walks over to the Black Jack table. He breaks the house in only six rounds and later wins a few of the largest poker pots of the night. Even though he’d taken their money, his opponents still think of him as a friend.
At closing time the bodybuilding bouncer at the club fetches the BMW M5 4WD Supra Edition and heats it up. He then hands the keys and the jacket of our hero over. A set of blonde space-amazon twins stalks him to the car, asking if he’d like to “Take us both for a spin”. The police wave in recognition as he passes their Don’t-Drink-and-Drive stop.
And after having partied through the night and then more, the ideal snowboarder wakes up early once again. In fact, even though he was the last man standing at the bar – and the last one to fall asleep in bed – he’s the first one to wake up. It’s almost as if he woke up before even going to bed. Yet his eyes open as effortlessly and sparkling as always and the story repeats itself, over and over again – forever.
Anders Hagman is a Swedish former pro snowboarder who believes we should not try to compare ourselves to “the ideal” – neither in the snowboarding world nor in any other. To each his own.
Words: Anders Hagman, Illustration: www.mothi.biz