Some people may feel that I moan quite a bit about the state of UK snowboarding, its competitions and its “scene”, a lot of people tell me I should just ignore the “mainstream” stuff run by Soulsports, ignore the British Championships, “stick it to the man and stop putting cash in Brassy’s pocket” and so it goes on.
So why do I care? Why do I keep moaning and keep doing the comps?
I care because I love snowboarding, I like competing and to me it’s important to be involved in “proper” competitions as well as the (apparently) more friendly jam sessions where you rock up to be told there are nappies at the bottom of the slope for anyone who is too scared to straight line the run into the kicker.
It seems to me that snowboarding tries to be everything to everybody, and probably due to its relatively young age as a sport, it hasn’t managed to sufficiently organise itself into factions in the same way as skiing, gymnastics, ice skating, boxing (and pretty much every other mainstream sport in the world) have. There’s no national grading system that allows people to compete against people of a similar skill level, there are no widely available schemes that direct people towards the same goal (remember your BAGA badges at school?), and there’s the constant fight going on between riders about whether the Olympics are good or bad, is snowboarding a sport or a lifestyle? How can we stop it being taken over by corporations? And so it goes on!
Folks, snowboarding is both a sport and a lifestyle, it’s time to live and let live and understand that each of us as individuals wants something different from the time we spend on snow. Some of us want to train, use sports psychology to make us better and enter (fairly & transparently judged competitions) to prove we are either better than someone else, or better than we were last year)
This brings me on to what triggered this post. As someone who views snowboarding as a sport I want to be able to plan my training, plan my goals and act as a mentor to younger riders who are just starting out. In order to do this I need to know more than 3 weeks before a competition what the format is and what disciplines are included, this is especially true of the British Indoor Championships. This competition should be the pinnacle of UK competition for the season, it should also (in my opinion) be a key day for the GB coaches to take a look at the up-coming talent, and give them a chance to find out more about being on the GB team.
In order to perform to the best of your ability in a competition you need to be able to train for it. That means it is helpful for you know how you will be judged, what on, any additional factors involved in scoring etc. Knowing this means you can prepare your 2 (or 3) comp runs in advance, or know that it’s a jam format so you need to cram in as many good tricks as you can in a certain time period. Do you go for an easy trick on a harder rail, or an uber-tech trick on an easier box? Without knowledge up front you can’t train to be the best.
Throw into the mix that for parents it’s handy to know days, timings and locations well in advance to plan around other family commitments, kids that need ferrying around. Â It shocks me that on the morning of 6th September I am writing this because I’m awaiting some fancy poster & website about the British Indoor Championships taking place on 22nd September.
I don’t care about a fancy poster, I just want info! Fine, posters are useful for those people new on the scene, who may not be tapped in to the fact that the comp should be happening soon. For someone like me though, who did their first British champs in 2003, I would just like an email saying “hey, you’ve done this before, here’s all the info, stick it in your diary and guess what we took on board feedback from last year and have decided to do x, y & z to make things better.” Â I also don’t expect to be told something will be annouced on a certain day and then have it constantly pushed back. Yes I understand sometimes delays occur, but it seems that the same thing happens year in and year out.
I don’t think this is too much to ask. Yes, I may be a bit anal about organisation and planning but my day job is project management, it runs through my veins and I refuse to fight it. If snowboarding in the UK wants to breed snowboarders who can compete on an international level and impress at the Olympics then it needs to start by improving how it hooks people in to the competitive scene and then keeps them there. Wherever you go people always comment on customer service, how they were treated by Brand X or they won’t buy from Store Y because of bad service, so why does the UK snowboarding scene put up with such shoddy service?