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Are Combinations the Future of Snowboard Progression?

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Announcer, editor, writer and snowboard enthusiast Mark Sullivan recently laid out his theory for the future of snowboarding on Facebook. In an attempt to separate the top level of competitive riding from, well, skiing, something must be done, and we think this theory is so crazy it might just work so we’re reposting it in its entirety.

For years now, I have been a careful observer on the progression of snowboarding, from the time you could see a picture or a video of a trick and go try it that day, until today – where stringing together tricks with 4+ full spins is the ‘state of the art.’ snowboarding for me, both on the mountain (and in business) has been about progression.

So without further adieu, here is ‘Sullivan’s Theory of Combinations’.
(I know, kind of hokey, but, it’s my idea, so why not?)

Shaun White‘s greatest contribution to the sport of snowboarding will not be his back to back gold medals in pipe, his own flavor of gum or the fact that he is the richest snowboarder on the planet (unless you count Jake) – he will be remembered for his frontside 540.

Let me explain.

About a month ago, Ayumu Hirano 平野歩夢 did a frontside 540 to hyper tweaked Japan at the LAAX European Open. He also did a bunch of 1080s etc., but we have seen that thousands of times since 2002, besides 10s are more common than straight airs today in the pipe.

That’s when I realized what Ayumo and Shaun White were doing was essentially the same thing – putting two tricks together into a combination – for White – it was a frontside 540 with a pause in the middle for a Jeff Brushie tweaked out stale fish. Hirano has the frontside 5 to Japan. There are many more out there already – and the possibilities are limitless.

In the past, anytime I saw one of these new tricks – like Shaun White’s 540 or the trick here – I simply said, “wow”, or “sick”, now I realize that all of the new tricks have a common thread – that they are a combination of less complicated tricks and are in fact better (challenging and stylish) than the sum of the parts. Now I call those tricks, the ones I find most impressive, “combos.”

Imagine a backside 5 to method, a frontside 540 to backside 180, a stale fish to switch backside 3 to method… I could go all day.

In every case, it seems, these types of tricks are more in line with the artistic progression of snowboarding, at least more so than the backside 1800 mute.

Here is a simple analogy: I am no expert on billiards – but I know I will take any available straight shot, before attempting anything in combination.

I believe that adding any two (or more) relatively difficult tricks together is a way that not only enhances the difficulty of a trick, but maintains the essential creative elements of style and individualism, are the future of the sport.

If the venue is the canvas, the rider is the paintbrush. I for one would rather look at a Picasso than a plotter chart of perfect circles. Besides the way we ride is what sets snowboarding apart.


So, what do you think?

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Comments (19)

  1. Double pits to chesty?? Where you been

  2. whoa, that panda, aka the late ink impressionist you so conjured, just kind of, trundled around for awhile. aw shucks indeed.

  3. gotta give credit to Vincent Gagnier, this shit last weekend is a pretty good example of an obnoxious combo prevailing over multi corks (even though its ski)

  4. All this had me thinking about was how back in Amped 2 days (circa 2004), I would do some ridiculous 2160 quad cork shit and say to myself, there is no way snowboarding will EVER get to that level.

    Well I guess all those gymnastics classes really got the best of us.

    I whole heartedly agree with the Sullivan approach presented here.


  6. but isn’t a front side double-cork 1080 just a corked front 540 into a corked switch backside 540?