Friday, May 29, 2009
OG Cory Smith Interview
Cory Smith and I grew up right next to each other in southern Colorado only separated by a small mountain range but bonded by the blood of snowboarding. Here is an amazingly interesting history and a bit of a life lesson from one of Snowboarding's greats.
1. When was the first time you started snowboarding?
1987, in Silverton Colorado, Burton Elite 145. Hiking the local sled hill after school almost killing myself because of that fin in the bottom of the board. Then moved on to riding at Purgatory where I went through the certification process before they would let me ride alone.
2. Was it hard growing up a snowboarder in a ski-dominated area? On a side not my dad was one of the dicks that made you jump through those hoops at purg. Fn fascists!
No. Silverton wasn't a ski-dominated area back then, it was just a mining town. Silverton Mountain didn't have a chairlift on it back then, it was just an avalanche slide path. Snowboarding was just one level above sledding back then so the animosity between the two sports didn't really materialize until later in the 90's when the popularity of the sport grew.
3. What are some of your most memorable moments in snowboarding?
Linking turns. The equipment was so bad back in the day that it literally took a few years just to be good enough get down the mountain with control but besides that there are countless memories that all kind of blend together. Learning how to spin tricks on a snowboard was a great feeling. Watching Randy Rod do backside 360 mute grabs on a Look Lamar Trick Stick was pretty cool thing to see, but even better when I learned how to do them the next day. Working at Windell's camp on Hood for 10 summers in a row, so many memories I could fill a book on just the stories at Hood. Doing backside rodeo 7's over 12 years ago...riding bottomless powder everyday with Travis Parker, Chris Englesman and Nate Christanson when we all lived in SLC together.
4. Back then who did you look up to for inspiration?
Chris Englesman was my main inspiration; he was very professional and very talented. He set the bar on what was possible back in the day. And for the record, Englesman did the first backside rodeo, not Peter Line. I saw it go down...
5. Do you feel snowboarding ever took a wrong/bad turn?
No, but it evolved into something a bit different than what it started out as - for me anyway. It was an extension of skateboarding, punk rock, rebellion, youth and being different than my parents. Back in the day snowboarding was underground, if you saw someone with a snowboarding sticker on their car you probably knew them. It was small group of people participating in a sport that was coming of age and things were being invented everyday. Being a part of it back then I felt like I was part of an exclusive cub or something, it really mattered to me personally. Now it's just become so popular, which is not a bad thing, it's just different. The things the pros are doing now are insane, the sport has really established itself. Now it's funny because everyone snowboards, it's as popular as skiing.
6. Did you ever get into a fight with a skier because you were a snowboarder?
Only the skiers wearing red coats with white crosses on their back. The ski patrol at Purgatory was out to get me... or all of us I guess. There was no such thing as a park then so we would jump everything in sight. Especially at Purgatory because it's littered with headwall jumps that we would constantly boost off of. In hindsight I see the need for stopping us from doing this because it is quite dangerous for the Texans, I'm surprised I never killed one of them on accident. I had my pass taken on more than one occasions. It always boiled down to them against us, which just fueled the rebellion aspect of the sport. I kind of thrived on it. But it also made us get creative, we would go into the trees and build log jibs, we would have a whole line of these things built, the patrollers had no idea what was going on in there. Riders these days don't know how lucky they are to have perfectly manicured parks to ride.
7. Do you feel the snowboarders of today know their history or take it for granted?
In a way I guess, but for the most part they're kids. I don't know any kid who cares about history, I know I didn't. Who cares about what some old dudes did 20 years ago, all that really matters to them is what's happening right now. What did Shaun White or Rice pull off, what ridiculous outfit their friend are wearing, etc... It's progression. Someday they'll look back and realize they did things that the next generation doesn’t give two shits about. It's all built upon what the people did before you but at the time you don't really appreciate that. It's unfortunate that youth is wasted on the young.
8. What is your take on giant corporate sponsors like Navy?
That shit happens whenever a sport or a band or whatever gets popular. You know some dude in the Navy marketing office has just identified snowboarding as being "cool" and "popular" with the impressionable youth market. It goes back to the popularity of the sport. You can't blame snowboarding or these corporate companies either, it's business. The sport is just in a different place now and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. I don't see any Navy ads or banners in the backcountry. The core riders who still loves snowboarding for the powder and the solitude and the adventure can seriously tune that crap out. I know I do. The only time it affects me is when I have to pay attention to "popular" snowboarding at the X Games etc...and then I cringe at all the corpo razor-blade, Taco Bell companies that think their being "core". They sponsor the X Games and hand out foamy taco hats and plastic junk to all the confused kids in attendance, comical actually.
9. What is your favorite aspect of snowboarding now as a seasoned veteran?
Solitude. Backcounry riding with "like minded individuals". Powder, friends, good-times. Enjoying the outdoors with my family, teaching my daughter how to slide on snow...
10. If you could give solid advice to the next generation of shreds what would you say?
Enjoy it while it lasts and have a back up plan because only a very small percentage of professional athletes are able to turn it into a life long carrier. But by all means necessary, chase your dreams and don't take no for an answer, life is full of set-backs, turn them into opportunities.
Did you wana give anybody thanks!
You're making feel famous or something. Tim Windell for not firing me when I threw a lawn chair off the second story deck onto a campers car and smashed the sunroof in during my first summer at camp.
Hahaha nice! That's all?
Too many to list. Of course my wife and Super Sophie!
I just think its awful how people that made such a huge difference in snowboarding can just be forgotten about. This is my way to give back with a huge thank you to a hommie that has always had my back as well as so many others.