Every time I watch quality mountainboard footage and European kids setting down tricks with that heavy style, i ask myself how can mountainboarding be so small. There has been a lot of great video popping up on the web so i have been thinking about this a lot. This is my gripe, my opinion and if you don’t like it tough. I encourage you to tell me what you think, even if it’s a capital “F U”. Mountainboarding means a lot to me and i want to see change.
1. No well financed industry behind it
When i look at most other action sports that are thriving i see an industry behind it or decades of dedication from individuals looking to push those sports. Let me start with snowboarding, an outcast sport from the start but only an outcast to the ski industry, a thriving industry, now with annual revenues over $2 billion dollars.
Once snowboarders were allowed onto the slopes they were no longer seen as complete jokes and could legally ride good terrain. It’s a lot easier to get big cash sponsorships when you have the support of a major resort which brings 1000’s of visitors a weekend. Wakeboarding is similar in some ways, boats are a complete necessity to wakeboard without it you’re just standing on a dock. Get the support of the boat industry you are in business.
Then there are the sports driven by decades innovators and true lovers for their sports. Surfing and skateboarding both have had a long hard road of isolation and bad reputations but it was that edge and never stopping that got them to a place where they were accepted. AJ made a great point, look at all the kids you see rocking the Hollister tee shirt in the mid-west who have never seen the beach, let alone surf. So these sports created there own image and it was that image that built there industry.
2. Media exposure
Ya ya ya, Johnny Kapahala, big fucking deal…. well actually it is, expect they called mountainboarding, dirtboarding through the entire movie.
I think this movie was great for exposure but it targets a really young audience one that will effect the sport in 4-5 years but this audience isn’t spending the money and isn’t pushing the sport quite yet. Outside of the Disney movie mountainboarding has seen its fair share of regional TV coverage and highlights from the Nokia Core Tour back in 2004, 2005, but these are niche audiences and the frequency of coverage is low.
The last bit of media that mountainboarding sees spills over into my next point but it’s guaranteed to be seen in 1 in 10 bloopers videos aired on every major network. Or you get the occasional jokers like Travis Pastrana’s boys who take it out on Nitro Circus and break themselves off and to my next point.
3. Bad stigma (“way to gnarly!”)
Your friends have either never heard of mountainboarding or say “i know what that is, isn’t it really dangerous”. All these first generation Red Bull addicts got a hold of a video camera and a mountainboard and thought they would get extreme. Then only to find out they had no balance and fell off a skateboard the last time they stood on one, now they’re shooting video of themselves crashing and they thought “Dimmu Borgir’s Black Metal” would be the perfect soundtrack. Like WTF, you really felt the need to post that on Youtube!!!
Now you wonder why people have no desire to try mountainboarding. We need to make it look fun and kill that bad late 90’s rep. NEW RULE FOR ALL MOUNTAINBOARDERS POSTING VIDEO ON YOUTUBE – NO METAL – NO CRASHS – ONLY FOUR WHEELS DOWN AND BUTTER!
4. Not enough technology in the boards
Let’s face it, until recently there were only 3 real mountainboard companies out there and a lot of fly by night start ups that failed. MBS hold dominance in the industry, they have spent the most time researching and testing their boards and with more than a decade of experience under there belt they have designed a board that sells. No offense to J Lee, Joel and PMC but they have been sleep on the new products and innovation and yes, innovation takes money but damn its time to risk again. In the European market Scrub and NoSno seem to be producing some high quality products which i have only heard great things about, but they have no distribution in the United States so I can’t pass fair judgment.
Ok i got a bit off track there, the technologies haven’t changed much over the past 5 years but the way kids ride the boards have. Since the release of MBS’s Matrix truck we haven’t seen anything to progressive that can compete. Ground Industries tried the cube and it seems to work at low speeds but I’ve watched Kody Stewart blow up half a dozen sets when riding sizable jumps. In my opinion lighter wider trucks would allow for a more stable ride and allow riders to travel a much higher speeds and maintain complete control.
I think about snowboarding and skateboarding, both industries have boards that are designed for a specific type of riding and technology that supports it. The highest end mountainboards have a few options on legnth and the variation on width only happens between brands. My point is boards need to be customized all riders can not fit into this cookie cutter shape that the companies have designed the boards around.
5. Followers not innovators
My final point for this post is we all have our own ideas about what mountainboarding should and shouldn’t be. Unfortunately we have a lot of similar board sports that have taken some of the creativity out of it for us. Whether your roots are in snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, biking or even gymnastics you will find similarity in the tricks which you can do. I know there are other elements of mountainboarding, it’s not all freestyle, but lets face it how many boarder cross races or grass hill runs can you watch before you get bored. In the end i think it comes down to our creativity, it’s time to dig deeper and find those unique elements that can’t be imitated by every other board sport and at the same time keep it fun.
I love mountainboarding for the feeling i get when i land a trick, for the hard slashes and the feeling of my tire taring through the dirt, most of all i love the community, the people. I’m not the only one that feels this, i think it’s important to relay that this is something we all have in common, we all do this for fun, this is no million dollar contract at the end of a season, only a couple of beers with your friends and the memories of some great event.
Let’s not be the next flat ground BMX, and just fade away. In the words of the Allman Brothers “I’m gonna keep on keepin on.”