A Core Snowboarder’s Guide to Watching the Olympics

Mainstream Multi-Sport Nation-Baiting Can Be Fun!

[Sage Kotsenburg, shortly before appearing on cereal boxes and The Conan Show. Sochi 2014. Photo: Nick Atkins.]

Once every four years, snowboarding gets to bathe in the fountain of mainstream attention as the Olympics pulls the sport’s highest-ranked park and pipe riders through the glory hole and gives them all a good old fashioned servicing.

However, for many, self-described ‘core’ snowboarders, it can be a perplexing time. Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum – from the grizzled hater of anything that impinges on the purity of well-heeled kids sliding sideways on a modified sledge, to those with an unhealthy interest in all facets of snowboarding – for dedicated riders there’s always something a little uncomfortable, a little cringe, that comes from being presented to the mainstream once every four years. The uniforms, Article 40, guy in the sky photos, articles like this.

It’s as if that fountain of global attention is located in Trafalgar Square and has a bunch of kooks taking iPad selfies around it, with a few empty cans of Red Stripe and the odd dead pigeon floating upon its murky waters.

But fear not, core snowboarders! We have thought short and soft and assembled some guaranteed ways that you, too, can enjoy the five-ringed circus without compromising your stringent belief system! Of course, the simplest solution is just don’t watch it: Go out and snowboard. Make an edit – even if it’s wank. Put in some hashtags about Terje. Or even, due to the fact it’s all going on in the middle of the night in Europe, sleep the shit through all of it.

Hahahaha, who are we kidding?! Of course you’ll watch it – at least the highlights – You just won’t tell anyone. Like you do with your secret love of Austrian afterski ooompah music…

With that in mind, here’s how to enjoy yourself…

1. Mute

No, not the world’s most maligned grab. Depending on your geographical territory, you’ll have a broadcast commentary team that are, at best, overexcited and getting some of the trick names wrong, or at worst, utterly useless with a barely-concealed contempt for snowboarding. It can be enough to have the savvy snowboarder wanting to gouge their ears out with a spoon. Hit mute or try that red button thing so you only hear the on-site noise.

2. Drink

However, especially in territories who’ve gone with employing MC Hermann Kockinmowff, there’s still fun to be had with the sound on! Open your alcoholic beverage of choice and drink each and every time the commentator gets a trick wrong or sounds utterly bemused by what they’re witnessing. Neck the whole damn thing whenever you hear the black words ‘frontside Indy’! And if anyone pulls off that rainbow to flat-down, drink everything in the house and pass out safe in the knowledge that you’ve just witnessed a bona-fide miracle.

3. Bingo!

In fact, take the whole thing further and recruit your close compadres who are on the same ‘not-watching-but-watching’ tip. Set up Snowboard Commentator Bingo for each broadcast, with words such as ‘Amplitude’, ‘Uniform’, ‘Extreme’, ‘YOLO’, ‘1800’, ‘quad cork’ and the like in the mixer. Loser gets the beers in. End result – everyone wins!

[Sage found the Holy Crail last time around. Photo: Nick Atkins]

4. Root

Our Australian friends will no doubt have a different interpretation of this, one which is an equally sure-fire way of guaranteeing enjoyment watching the Games. However, we mean this in the context of ‘support’. While we’re not as militant in our beliefs as Terje, we can understand his point when it comes national pride being a bit of a funny one, especially when it comes to something as individualistic and free-spirited as snowboarding. Whatever the discipline, pick the rider you feel embodies your version of the spirit of snowboarding best and root for them. Even better if you think they have little real chance of winning. Somehow, against all odds, it worked out OK in Sochi’s slope….

5. Flashback

Before each discipline begins, dig out what runs won the big contests 20 years ago when snowboarding first debuted at the Games – for pipe check Gian Simmen’s OG winning run, in Big Air look at the Air+Style from 1998 and, well, slopestyle hadn’t really become a thing back then so here’s the BEO finals from 10 years ago – , and marvel at how insane the progression of snowboarding has been in two decades. Then bitch about how it was better 20 years ago.

6. ITK

Look for the rebels. Enjoy watching your heroes gently undermine the whole event via their haircuts, constant smiles (What? No game face?) and interview answers that baffle the world’s assembled media. Relish the realisation that only people like you – on the inside – understand what the fuck is happening. You, my friend, are In The Know!

What can happen when we group chat about snowboarding contests. Fine art yo.

7. Bantz

Chat shit about the whole thing with your buds. Get a group chat going, swap your shock and awe in real time, and be the first to rag on Shaun’s boot grabs!

8. Rants

Chat shit about the whole thing on the internet. Some pointers for the rookies: rage about the judging, how a slow back 1 looks much better, boot grabs, hot-potato grabs, spin-to-win, zeaching, that rainbow to flat-down and capitalism! Remember, though: it’s important not to let people know you’ve actually watched it!

9. Troll

Having enjoyed/spat bile at the halfpipe/slopestyle/big air (delete as appropriate) on the television, go on the nearest post-match FB discussion and write FUCK FIS. Or, for ultimate troll points, write “Wow, aren’t the FIS are doing such a sterling job…”

10. Article 40

But remember. Above all, the first rule of the Olympics is not to talk about the Olympics.

Happy hating!


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