I wrote this a while back, but it stands true. Two of my friends recently approached me and asked me to write about the skier/snowboarder divide. Hope they like it.
Imagine, for the sake of argument, you play the drums. You love playing the drums, it’s one of the few things that make you happy. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing, say, the piano or trumpet, but for you it’s drums all the way. Now say you live in, I don’t know, a really musical town, Seattle in the 90′s for instance. You’re hanging with your other musician buddies at a coffee shop (because why the hell not? You’re in Seattle after all). One of your drumming friends brings along a guitar enthusiast, and when it transpires her musical preference, another guitar player in your group gives her props for “playing a real instrument”, or something along those lines.
Now, don’t get me wrong, of course not ALL skiers hate ALL boarders, and the opposite is also true. And naturally, what with the way snowboarding entered the culture through its “movement” – that is, punk music, baggy pants, partying, etc. – a certain number of elder people are biased (intimidated?) by this relatively new sport. Before that, skiing was (and still is) a rich person’s game: the majority of people, myself included, cannot afford to buy a condo in Aspen, so the hills were saved for the elite. ”Those snowboarders” became as commonplace as “those damn kids”.
The problem I have rests with those people who have picked up or embraced skiing in its renaissance – with fat skis for powder, twin tips for switch, and huge contests with mad rails and novelty cheques – and still hold onto the notion that they are playing the respectable game.
This perspective, much like racism or sexism, is self-perpetuating. It will only go away when the barriers have been broken. We are all here for the same reason – the snow, or maybe more specifically the mountains. Can’t forget about the bikers! That’s why I love Whistler so much: it attracts those of a similar mindset, which adds to the amazing community feeling here. Stop putting up walls, and the doors will open!