Seriously. F*ck this, f*ck that, f*ck everything.
First time I encountered this video (see above), I let out a dorky laugh.
‘Hur-hur’ Was the noise I made, ‘Silly skier getting in the way.’
Then I watched it again.
Wait… did that guy actually… push that kid over? The video was looped and so the jab of the arm, as quick as it was, was playing over-and-over-and-over again in front of me and I stared with my eyebrows raised.
At first, disbelief. Quickly coupled with anger.
Scrolling through the comments on the Newschoolers.com share, I realised I was not alone.
‘F*CK THAT GUY. NOT COOL.’ Wrote one internet commentator.
‘Man, this infuriates me,’ chimes another, ‘If I saw that happen to my son, the bigger kid wouldn’t make it to the bottom of the hill.’
The debate got hostile.
Some called for the rider to be named and shamed, his name and details publically posted in the forum. Other people launched their anger at the child for being clueless about his surroundings instead.
Newschoolers themselves condoned the rider’s attitude with a stern warning: ‘Don’t be a piece of sh*t. Treat all your fellow skiers with respect.’ and I applaud their bravery in asserting what seems to be quite a controversial opinion.
When did this sort of behaviour in the park actually become a thing? Am I being oblivious? Has it always been there? There’s always been the entertainment of watching Jerry Of The Day up to his usual foolish shenanigans on the mountain, and I’m rather impartial to circulating another Silly Skiers video around the office to earn my street cred, but when did a bit of casual banter from skiers and snowboarders alike tip over into physical abuse and hostility? What I just can’t fathom is where did that rider get the elevated sense of entitlement to very literally shove another skier out of the way?
Well, bully for you, my freeriding friend, that poor kid is probably now so upset, he won’t be coming back to the park again. You’ve saved the world of freestyle skiing from yet another potential hero.
I mean, point me in the direction of someone who wasn’t at one point been a massive Jerry. I endured ski school, I went through a phrase in my early teens where I was rockin’ that gaper gap. I snow ploughed my way down the mountain and caused havoc where I could, and that was fine. I was a kid. I was exactly where I was supposed to be for someone of my age.
Breaking into park and freestyle skiing is not easy. And with parents pushing their children harder and harder to master expert-level tricks before they turn 10 years old, any novice adult freestyler finds themselves stumbling onto the set of a rather freaky, grunged up version of Toddlers & Tiaras… on snow (Toddlers & Tail Grabs? I’ll leave this one open).
"...where did that rider get the elevated sense of entitlement to very literally shove another skier out of the way?"
When you’re not a carefree child whose Dad is cheering you on from the other side of a GoPro, the art of hucking yourself over jumps and mastering rails and boxes is difficult and can take a lot of practice (and balls) to get right. It only gets harder when people like this (see fig. 1) have a lofty sense of importance stemming from their ability, and make beginners feel uncomfortable getting practice in.
Take a large step back and remind yourself that not every skier and snowboarder has the same access to the mountain as you do. While some freeriders like this (*gestures explicitly at computer screen*) seem trapped inside the exclusive-pros-only sphere, it’s this attitude that’s seeing more and more parks across the world making it increasingly difficult for entry level freestyle skiers and snowboarders to get that crucial practice to move on to the next level.
You’ve probably seen that viral photo of a park that erected a fence across its entrance so the only way to get in was to clear the jump and landing, or use the rainbow rail. I’ve dug it out of the depths of the internet for your viewing pleasure anyway (see above). As someone who dabbles in freestyle, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have been able to get into that park without a warm up. Which is annoying because it looked like fun.
It’s not a subject that’s untouched in the world of skiing and snowboarding either. Many people bemoan the fact that backcountry touring is becoming more and more reserved for the ‘locals’, those visitors who come to explore new terrain are met with hostility from people with an I-was-here-first attitude.
It’s this ‘Exclusive Freestyle Club’ gung-ho spirit that’s doing the industry more harm than good. Not everyone has the privilege of having access to the mountain, yet alone the park all year around and as a result, not everyone (myself included) is at a ‘super-grom’ level by the time they reach their early teens. The result of this? I need practise. Lots of it. Let me have my practise free from humiliation, abuse and that feeling that I’m committing nuisance.