One of the most beautifully-kooky moments of my life occurred in the picturesque Snowy Mountains of Australia at Perisher Resort. I was working on a film project, running the GoPro up and down the gum tree-lined slopes of Perisher Terrain Park built by the man, Charles Beckinsale. While helping our camera guy, I watched every big name snowboarder and skier worth his or her salt chuck themselves off the giant kickers.
Now, I love working on films, but after a while, sitting around gets old. I’d watched countless people send – clearing each jump with ease, throwing all sorts of trick variations. I knew I could make the gap, and maybe pull my signature, spread eagle crotch grab. I wanted it. After all that watching in the beating spring sun, I was like, “Fuck it.” I took off down the slope towards the first hit. But I’d missed an important detail which quickly became apparent: with all the travel, I’d forgotten about wax.
In the spring conditions, I was moving painfully slow. I launched, and tucked, knowing the spread-crotch wasn’t in the bag. I thought I’d made the transition but instead, slammed into the knuckle and exploded. Shit was everywhere. Hat and goggles downhill of my poles. A single glove, lay at the bottom near the flats. I picked myself up and moved on. What else could I do? But I guarantee you one thing: if I’d had video of the incident, I’d have posted it on my meager social account for laughs. I try to be open (see honest) about stuff that pisses me off or embarrasses me or makes me sad.
That’s why I applauded Laurie Towner’s honesty the other day on social media when the man – who’s one of the best big wave carpenters we know – roasted the WSL for leaving him and others out of the Big Wave Awards. “All my life I thought it would be amazing to have a ride of the year next to my name,” he wrote. “I now know it’s a meaningless award chosen by kooks.”
He might not be exactly right, but that’s not the point. At least there was real emotion there. Something you could grab onto and be pissed about for him – or even pissed at him. But damn if you didn’t respect his opinion. And I wish more surf and mountain athletes would follow his example.
As someone who covers these freeride geniuses, who in this day and age have hired all kinds of PR agents and marketing gurus to safeguard their brands, I’ve grown fatigued by this kind of post: “Well, contest didn’t quite go as I expected, but learned so much about myself and my sport. Thanks again #GoldCoast.” What? Is that all we get? No, no, no, no. What I want is this: “Gotta say, judges screwed me this go around. My mum could have scored a better heat and she doesn’t even surf. Did ya’ll see that last turn? Judges missed it. And I’m sick of meat pies. F*** this place. Out.” How much more interesting would that be? Or, “Can’t believe FIS is still testing for marijuana. Idiots booted me out of the contest cause I smoked a doober last week. Step into the modern age.” Or even the non-comp post – mountain peak, sitting majestically on its own with a caption like, “#Blessed.” What about, “This beast completely destroyed me today. #luckytobealive.”
Yeah, that would be great, especially considering most every quote we get from athletes these days is carefully curated by some publicist. At least give us a heaping bowl of reality on social media.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily need to hear about some messed up night a snowboarder or surfer or skier had where everything went wrong and they ended up hurling bits and pieces into the dive bar trash can before waking up God knows where (or maybe we do?). And at a certain point, too much info can turn into whining. Maybe that much honesty is too much, but gettin’ crazy on social ain’t all bad (see Antonio Brown, former Steeler, current Raider. Man got paid). Terje Haakonsen has been known to go off (great follow). So has Joel Tudor (another solid follow). Kelly Slater always seems to have something to say (and interacts with his audience). I might not even like what these influencers go on about. Sometimes they actually piss me off (Haakonsen famously called journalists cowards). But at least I can learn something. Anything.
All I want is a little reality in my life when it comes to our favorite surf and mountain pros. A little, “Hey, I’m having a shitty day. Wanna’ hear about it?” Because they’re humans too. But sometimes, when looking through the lens of social media, it just doesn’t feel like it.