Of course, with the Olympics right on the horizon, it's certainly a topical question to ask, and as expected, many of you had your own opinions as to the answer.
We've had a read through all of your comments and compiled some of the best ones to in an aim to get a feel for the different schools of thought out there. Have a read through and leave your two-cents in the comments section below.
So, are contests killing snowboarding? Here's what you guys thought:
Some folk think they are...
I stopped riding my snowboard when i saw the x games a few years ago. People nowadays have no idea what it was all about. It was to be out of the mainstream and into the cool. The judges wont give you a point if you don't juggle around like a gymnast in the pipe. - Johann Westerlund
Fuckin' up snowboarding for real, sorry but thats the truth. Sure, sponsorship is a good thing to have but its about way more then that. We do this since more than 20 years and now it's getting to a point where people risk their life in a monster pipe hard as shit for Olympic gold and you could play ice hockey in that thing and the guys/girls do tricks which are nuts, so all the respect to you all but the whole thing was about having fun with friends and enjoying riding. - Thomas Preissler
... while others of you were more indifferent about it:
I don't care, I just want to ride pow and don't care what comps are doing. What's killing the sport is people being lazy and not experiencing anything first hand 'cause they have seen it on the net - Johnny Trail
Personally, I can't relate to these types of contests and I just choose not to even watch. 1080+ flipity do-da' whirly birds just ain't my cup o joe. Therefore, I look forward to the Dirksen Derby's, what Gerry Lopez has goin on and of course the Legends of Tahoe events. Occasionally, I'll check out the Big Mountain or Baldface type contests. - Devin Blane
Of course, plenty of others disagree too:
Contests are not killing snowboarding at all - it's taking snowboarding to a whole new level. Without contests snowboarding wouldn't be where it is now - Kyle Krebs
Not at all, just don't ride in them if you don't want to. Snowboarding is about fun and if you have fun riding in contests then so be it! - Tyler Knight
No, they're raising the bar for the next generation - Chris Fulton
Nah, its making people get recognised, people need competitions for that. Sports are all about competing yet having fun. There's always that competitive side but there needs to be a bigger range of events in snowboarding - Jordan Thompson
Some people have been quick to point the finger at the FIS...
Not ALL contests are killing snowboarding - just the ones the nazis at the FIS are involved in. - Charles Kelly
... while others have highlighted that there could be problems with the current judging systems:
Yo Danny, old friend, i am on your side, but as Ingemar B. said, it could be also the judges. And as we all know, FIS is killing Snowboarding since 1998 - Paul Popp
Love watching it on TV however they need to change the judging to push more style. Snowboarding is getting hard to watch when all anybody does is double and triple corks. Nobody can focus on style when they have to spin and flip a thousand times to even place. If a guy does a huge slow 540 with some style it should score higher then it does now - Ryan Maynard
Many of you identified the need for new, more creative formats:
The problem lies within the system - or lack of system, if you like. When snowboarders are not in control of their own sport, they are doomed to end up in the commercial pitfall where all look the same and no edge is allowed. Making creative competition concepts that will stimulate the original values of snowboarding (creativity, style, fun) is hard. The normal route in most sports is making standards for arenas and formats. And for most sports this path leads to the Olympics, which is happening in snowboarding as well. This is a dead-end street for snowboarding as both creativity and control over our own sport will vanish. - Henning Andersen
Contests help promote snowboarding, but I am getting tired of everyone doing constipated poop spin 1080's all the way down the pipe. How about limiting the amount of times you can throw down the same trick? Get more variety into the runs so there's more emphasis on style. For the rest of us, snowboarding is a week away with our mates once a season. I fail to see how a few people entering contests is going to kill an entire lifestyle. Just strap in and ride. - Dave Laycock
And a bunch of people gave props to contests like the Ultra Natural:
There should be more contests like the ultra natural - John Close
Travis Rice's contest Ultra natural is definitely progressing snowboarding and contests - Chris Major
There was also a suggestion or two on how comps could bring the focus back to style:
Why don't we bring in stuff like METHOD comps? or Triple comps? And 540 comps, and 50-50 on a downrail comps? It would allow the rider nothing else than (if you take the 50-50) rotations off and on, and grabs, which would need a LOT of style to beat the 15 other riders in your field.
And the triple comp would need like the most epic Kotsenburg-ish grab and the perfect Helgason-tweak with the most steezy and mellow McMorris-stomp to do a 100. - Kristian Morgen
Henning Andersen, CEO of the Arctic Challenge, made a very valid point about the need for one unified system run by snowboarders:
Snowboarding is an easy robbery as the athletes are not united. If they stood together, there are plenty of event organisers that would love to develop creative events with different formats and areans - much more tailor made to the "real" action sports culture and values. The way it is now with all eyes on one event every 4 years, controlled by outside organisations, is a sad thing. - Henning Andersen
While Tim Boffe, who has also organised (and judged) at snowboard comps, highlighted some of the more visceral benefits of competition:
As a judge and organiser of contests I have seen what an energy a contest can create amongst riders, helpers, crowds and sponsors. During a contest new ideas are being shaped and new platforms are being created because like-minded people find each other in a world where they love to be the most. I am a big fan of riding powder with friends and redefining my limits in that part of snowboarding and although I sense that the true core of the lifestyle lays in that part of snowboarding, contests should be viewed in a different context and are only a piece (but an equally important one) of the puzzle. - Tim Boffe
Kristian Morgen touches on the difficulty of being recognised commercially without the mainstream pull of contests:
I think the problem is the comercialisation of the contests; without the contests, no one gets paid. It feels like the ones (that are not Nico Müller and T. Rice) who want to go pow-shredding, needs a sponsor. And the sponsors are being paid back in selling stuff. And to sell stuff you need to be known, and the easiest way to be seen is through a TV. And who gets to be on TV? Well not the super creative, well produced, powder-lovin', 'lifestyle'-promoting, full movies that comes out these days. - Kristian Morgen
and some of you argued that the desire to compete is inbuilt into our human nature:
Contests can be found in any corner of our society, it’s a natural part of life; even growing the most beautiful beard (see movie Mansome) has people going to facial hair extremes. We like to measure our capacities to our equally talented fellow humans in any discipline where we feel we have a chance to stand out of the crowd. This gives us a sense of self worth. - Tim Boffe
Contests (and snowboard movies for that matter) have an inherent power in them: a moment that we can enjoy what our fellow humans are capable of and a moment to reflect on your own possibilities. - Tim Boffe
There is a market of people who want to see people compete, and as long as that market exists and people are willing to pay, companies will jump on the back of it, and try and turn a penny. Without their support the audience wouldnt get to see people 'fight it out'. Its just human nature as much as it human nature for people to want to compete against each other. And even if snowboard competitions ended tomorrow, snowboarding wouldn't be dead. Competition is just one form, a very high level, of snowboarding that people choose to do. You always have had the pow riders, the groomers, the park kids, the street kids, the posers - and you always will. - Jack Reeves
As Jack from Oakley Europe suggests (above), we think that competition will always be part of snowboarding and that it's up to all of the individuals involved, riders, spectators or otherwise, to decide for themselves what effect it has on their snowboarding:
It's up to the individual to decide what aspect of snowboarding they want to try. Competitions isn't my idea of snowboarding but it might be someone else's. Nicholas Muller said it best in Never Not, but he was anti competition, I'm like him but I think competitions are needed to push the sport in various different ways. What's awesome about snowboarding is it's fun no matter if your shredding with your friends or shredding for that podium spot. At the end of the day it should be about having fun, so just do whatever style of riding you want, I even think some of the free ride kings have bigger balls than some of these park rats and don't get enough attention compared to who evers pulling the next triple whatever. - Aiden Lind
Thank you for all of your comments and if you haven't yet had your say, feel free to get involved in the comment section below!