My apologies for being a bit late to the party, but I was on vacation during the broadcast of Ultra Natural and I still need to vent.
I love snowboarding. I love blue bird days, park laps, deep powder and hard carving. I don’t love commercials and flowery testimonials. I have already mentioned on this site that I do not like the delay between the event and the broadcast of said event. Within seconds of the completion of the event we all knew who made the podium, over a month before we would actually get to watch it. Now it is apparent that they needed 30 days to produce the space filling fluff pieces that make up three quarters of the broadcast “Signature Event”. I loved last year’s Super Natural. We saw every rider and adequately covered the venue and comp styling. This year’s event was a forty minute RedBull commercial.
Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying my objections and disappointment are with the Broadcasting of Ultra Natural, not the competition itself. I think this comp structure is awesome and the future.
Does anyone remember the old saying that Budweiser was a marketing company with a beverage division? Lets change that saying from Bud to RedBull. Set aside the purchase of Anheuser Busch by InBev, the poster child for Marketing/Beverage crossover has got to be RedBull. Now lets back up a moment. There is nothing wrong with this business model, more power to them. The money that RedBull and other like companies pump into the sport has allowed unparalleled progression in snowboarding and other sports. What I as an independent rider will have a problem with is when the balance becomes too far skewed and begins to alter the landscape of the sport I love. Am I overstating it? Perhaps. Yet take a few minutes to read over the comments and you will see the general reactions by the viewers and core riders are of disappointment and almost completely negative. You will also see the disappointment these comments reflect comes primarily from a “Misrepresentation” of snowboarding, and the lack of actual snowboarding. Why do I believe this is altering the landscape of snowboarding? Look at the numbers. Ridership is falling, dollars spent falling, and days on snow per rider is falling. All at a time where the media and social presence of the sport is at an all time high. I’m not trying to say one company or even one factor is responsible for the drop in these numbers. The weather the last two years has sucked. Especially here in the Midwest. But at this critical juncture in the sports still relatively young life, where marketing budgets are at an all time high, a “signature” event for our sport should be more than an hour long commercial for a Marketing/Beverage company.
Now that I have stepped down from my soap box, lets talk about the actual snowboarding that took place. Congratulations to Gigi Ruf on a well deserved win. That was a huge back one. It was nice to see Mark McMorris surf powder. While not dropping perfection he wasn’t timid and did stomp a double cork over the park jump on his second run and earned 6th place finish.
Terje Haakonsen dropped what he’s known for, all but making the podium. He lined up a clean and killer top section. Highlighted by frontside bones and methods he pulled in a 4th place finish and a spot in next years comp. With the top eight invited back next year, and only space for 16 overall, will Travis Rice be back? I have to believe that he couldn’t be left off the roster. I mean it is his brainchild and he did win last year. He stomped clean drops and airs in the upper section, but the park jumps caused him shall we say trouble and he finished in 10th. Regardless, he will be back. Mark it down.
Some great snowboarding all around and I am not going to let the broadcasting of the event completely turn me off to the event. I still believe this style of competition is the future of the sport. Multi-faceted terrain and the best riders in the world, proving it.