[Unknown carver getting #relatable in Stubai. Photo: @samoetiker]

There was a time that the tricks that graced the silver screens of snowboarding generally tended to be ones that regular snowboarders could aspire to. Sure, you’d have Jussi Oksanen stomping the first switch back 10 in powder on film, Terje experimenting with natural terrain freestyle on big mountain lines or Romain hitting 30-odd metres of Hemsedal cheese wedges, but as a frothing young buck you could look up to this kind of riding as something you wanted to achieve and envisage a way you could get there – perhaps not on such a spectacular level, but you could certainly be inspired by it and try to emulate on your own terms.

Today, however, those at the frontier of pushing the technical boundaries of snowboarding are riding at such an insanely high level that it’s essentially unattainable to all but a select few. Kids need gym time, airbags, coaches and a sprinkling of disco dust to even get close to pulling off some of today’s stunts, and as a result such riding is becoming – at best – something akin to that lunatic shit the Nitro Circus lot do, or at worst, a turn-off. To blatantly contradict this article's title; yes, if someone were to pentacork a bunch of people would watch it, discuss it, and most certainly would fucking care (no doubt caring so hard that they'd feel implied to tell the world that they’d prefer to see a slow, backside 180), but unlike watching Johan Olofsson tweak till the bindings creak way overhead or Nicolas Müller painting lines in Alaska, there’s little chance of it making any Average Joe want to go snowboarding. In the grand scheme of things how much would they really care? Mind blown? Certainly. Mind thinking 'Wow, I'd like to do that!'? Unlikely.

"Kids need gym time, airbags, coaches and a sprinkling of disco dust to even get close to pulling off some of today’s stunts, and as a result such riding is becoming – at best – something akin to that lunatic shit the Nitro Circus lot do"

But herein lies the rub. For riders at the apex of the sport, progression is just as important - if not more so - as it is to regular, passionate non-pros. Learned your first back 3? You’ll want to step up to a back 5. If you’re at the point where you can pull a back 10 out the bag at will, it’s only natural to want to mix it up and try double dipping in the quest of bettering your riding. And this is compounded further when you figure competitive snowboarding in to the equation – after all, these guys earn their corn by doing tricks that are determined to be more difficult than the ones of their peers. As a result, much competitive freestyle snowboarding has reached a point where the top riders are at a level so high that it’s at once utterly incredible and completely uninspiring. It’s a Steve Vai solo when your heart craves Cobain’s simplicity.

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The past decade has seen progression rise exponentially – what was once a steady, seasonal progression of tricks received a paradigm-shifting shot in the arm when internet video became widespread. All of a sudden if someone stepped to an NBD it could proliferate almost in real time, and snowboarding rapidly evolved from a couple of people doing double corks in 2007 to it being a stock trick by 2009, and Torstein cracking off a triple in 2010. It was an arms race, and more and more riders had become nuclear powers with increasingly hectic spins and corks becoming stock. Now, in this avenue of progression, we're racing head on at a wall set by the Laws of Physics – plus what a human body can physically handle – and we're headed at it fast.

But for most snowboarders, even those who would classify themselves as firmly in the freestyle camp, the thought of getting to the point of double, triple or – god forbid – quad corking is so far removed from what they can aspire to that it’s almost become a turn-off. Imagine a kid with dreams of turning pro these days seeing what the likes of Max Parrot or Dan Brisse get up to. ‘What, THAT’S what I need to be doing?!’ It’s not hard to imagine ‘fuck that’ to be the logical conclusion. And it’s not just on jumps, the democratisation of video took the power from a select few elite and gave it to the many. And the many were good, but many. So now – as delved into deeper in our article, The Wank – we have an internet absolutely littered with good snowboarding, but precious little that really strikes a chord with people outside the tight sphere of those producing it. We’ve become desensitised.

"Thankfully over the past couple of years there’s been a tendency to seek out the weird and wonderful over adding another rotation, kink, flip or cork."

The march of progress has been inevitable, predictable, necessary and brutal. For several seasons we had contests awash with the much-maligned back 14 triple mute; street riding (a niche within a niche if ever there was one) seemed to be headed towards bigger rails, bigger gaps, bigger winches and bigger builds, and halfpipes kept on getting bigger to the point that no sane weekend warrior would ever look at Shaun White's bonkers stunt ditch runs and think "I'll have me some of that!"

Thankfully, over the past few years, there’s been a tendency for more riders to seek out the weird and wonderful. The best thing is, not only is such riding good enough to not be seen as a gimmick, it's been received like a breath of fresh air from all levels of snowboarding. Actual inspiring riding that resonates all the way from the pro-level guys to the newcomers to the sport. Think Halldor’s übertweaked Method backflip, the emergence of setups like the Holy Bowly, mushrooming of Banked Slaloms, the recent affection for knuckle tricks, the urban lines of Louif Paradis's Beacon, or anything from the Yawgoons or Fat & Furious. It turns out there's more than one avenue open to getting progressive, and it's signposted 'Creativity'. Thankfully there are riders out there with the mindset to push boundaries in more creative ways, beyond tagging on another spin, flip or cork – ways that inspire distinctly average snowboarders because they will sow a seed that can flourish on many levels. Look at the response Arthur Longo got from his Side Hits Euphoria edit last year. Everyone but the absolute beginner can – and does – ride side hits, except there’s not many who could do anything like what Longo was doing on them. It doesn’t matter. You can put yourself there. Apply it to your own level.

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And you don’t even need to leave the ground to fire the stoke. As the creative flatground work displayed by more and more riders in their web clips, Korua's Yearning for Turning series and the movie Glue from Christian Haller showed, there’s an eternal beauty to going fast and putting your board on its edges that resonates whatever your level. Specifically shouting out to the Yawgoons who showed the world at large that there was an untapped fountain of carving tricks that could be tapped. Then there's Beacon, which despite being filled with some legitimately Class A street riding, also managed to make (at least some of it) look fucking fun.

Suddenly, after years of hurtling towards the inevitable Omega point, there’s a swing back to being relatable again. Adding shifties into spins? I can do that. Figuring out new ways to carve? I can do that. Spending a day sending it off sidehits? Dreaming up your own personal take on snow-covered street lines? Sign me up! Of course, Cab 12 Roastbeef shifty-shiftys, some Dylan Gamache wizard edge work, or going sidehit bananas like Longo is probably out of the picture, but you can be inspired to bring the riding these guys do at the highest level, to your own.

Fun, style and sickness are the essential cornerstones of snowboarding, and snowboarding that combines these will trump something simply technically impressive nine times out of ten. There’s certainly still a place for pushing boundaries and genuine WTF moments (the first draft of this brainfart parped out as Yuki Kadono just put down a quad cork 1980 – mindblowing, a bit of a blur, predictable comments of awe and disdain, and not exactly making me want to ride a snowboard) but these are inevitably rarer. The swing back to riders being actively happy to show the sport's more relatable side, rather than just an onslaught of 'the best tricks' is both welcome, and important for the sport's future.

Snowboarding is still comparatively young but there are signs that it’s started to shake off the follies of youth. Much like musicians who emerge from a teenage fever of just wanting to play the fastest, most complicated bars imaginable, the chops learned are now being applied to more creative, apparently more simplistic melodies as well as a mere brute force attack on what's possible. The results speak to us more intimately than simply having our minds blown, and as a consequence the stoke to get out there and get some reaches new heights.

There will always be room for the latest new mindbending tricks, but as long as insanity is tempered with inspiration and creativity, snowboarding as a whole will continue to benefit.