After a short hiatus, Gossip from the GoodLife returns with some chin-stroking inspired from an infamous Onboard sticker from way back when...
A few years back Onboard produced some stickers [albeit ironic – a point lost on some] which caught the eye, and still now stands out with a certain knowing look: Europe Sucks. There was a huge debate a few years ago over which continent – the US or Europe – was bringing out the best riders. Now 10 or 15 years ago perhaps the States had a better developed infrastructure to nuture through talent in the forms of parks and events, but Europe has caught up no end since then, and despite a lack of facilties at times in certain areas, Europe has consistently brought through some amazing riders.
If we think of riders who are in the legendary bracket of snowboarding, I would offer up names such as Haakonson, Nyvelt, Müller, Gigi, De Marchi (for his groundbreaking riding at the turn of the century), Andreas Wiig (for his reinvention of what was expected on a park jump or from a video part), and the same can be said of Eero Ettala, who after just rewatching his part in Eurogap, and his part in White Balance from several years ago, it's apparent that he has been at the forefront of progression for a long time. That’s no mean list even before we include names like Johan Olofsson, Axel Pauporte and Daniel Franck.
From the US there are also a huge number of amazing shreds, you just have to look at Travis Rice, Jake Blauvelt, Danny Kass for proof of that. The US has always brought snowboarding a wealth of talent and is responsible for many riders who would be considered legendary, but it does seem that here in Europe we are capable of bringing through these enigmas from the far reaches of the north, or from some dark Austrian or Swiss Valley, who come out and blow minds for decades at a time.
So, going back to that sticker. It was tongue in cheek from the beginning and I for one would love to have a sticker like that on my board. I mean, think about it. We have all these parks now cropping up everywhere. Mayrhofen, Laax and Livigno are all just getting better by the month it seems; we have amazing events cropping up quickly, from the Open, to Air&Style, to the new events like Stuttgart Big Air all of which bring snowboarding to the people.
Then think about the next generation of amazing riders coming through who are already heroes to the kids out there: Halldor, Torstein, Gjermund are names which are synonomous with progression, and seem to be the leading lights as they can mix up rails, parks, pow... oh, and of course they can win any event they want. It seems the riders coming through in Europe seem a touch more rounded whilst those in the States seem focused on trying to wear leather, smoke cigs, and tap their way through a video part.
Take that, America!
Geographically, Europe is unreal. When was the last time you took a roadtrip, or even better a train trip? Seriously, train travel is the future. If I could go to every event through the world, by train I would be on Platform 1 with my bags packed. From Innsbruck, you have access to Arlberg, Zillertal and of course all the local resorts around IBK, I mean you couldn’t wish for anything better. Accomodation-wise, Austria runs the show. You get big appartments or hotels with wellness. Coming from the UK, I didn’t get the idea of wellness, but it makes you feel, well, ummm wellnessed if that’s a word. Then you can take the train down to Italy, and hit up any of the parks from Fakie and his crew of shapers (watch out for Kronplatz blowing up this year) that also means you get to taste some amazing food, some top class wine, and they have a fine range of dark haired ladies around there. Of course you can also take the train down to Switzerland and stay in some amazing places like the Rocks Resort, and ride mountians home to Freddie Kalbermatten and Nicolas Müller. Hop on the train the otherway and find yourself in Munich ready to hit some beer gardens, and shred some mighty fine hills in Germany which have an amazing jib scene going down. Did I mention the beer gardens?
Otherwise you can jump in a cheap-ass plane and head for Scandanavia, which is home to some amazing parks (all with great accommodation) and amazing-looking women thanks to the Vikings who raped and pillaged all the good looking ones from around Europe when they were on the rampage. That explains the lack in other regions…
Europe is really an awesom place, so use its openness and ease of travel as a chance to grab your crew and a camera and go on a roadtrip this season. It will open your eyes as to how close we all are, yet how different we all are. Different laguages, different people; you can try some other food, drink another man's beer, and enjoy this place we call home.