It’s winter time: Do you know what your daughters are doing?

The Mall Diva and I did a little sports-watching bonding Saturday night. Nope, it wasn’t football, basketball, figure-skating or her new-found favorite, hockey. It wasn’t even lacrosse (sports with sticks that you can hit people with usually get her attention). We were watching the Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe competition at the Winter X-games.

Truth be told, she was already watching the event when I arrived in the basement hoping to check out what was on the movie channels. We have just one television in the house and really only one rule on what to watch – he (or she) who gets there first, rules. Since she was unmoved by my puppy eyes and salesmanship, the SuperPipe it was.

Actually, it was pretty interesting. I’ve not followed the so-called “X” sports that much since I’m of the generation that prefers coffee to cola as a morning eye-opener and gravity and I have long-since settled on the terms of my surrender. SuperPipe is a long, wide tube with the top cut off and the sides and bowl packed with snow. Contestants snowboard back and forth across the “pipe”, riding up and over the sides high into the air while doing twists, flips and other stunts, mixed in with the occasional face-plant. Hey – women in danger; now that’s good TV!

Besides appreciating the skills and “did you see that!” moments of this particular event I was amazed at how much my daughter knew about the sport and the contestants. While I can go three-deep on the NFL’s team by team skill position rosters, the snowboarding stars, jargon and arcania section of my memory capacity is as fresh and unmarked as a slope of new powder. According to my daughter, someone called – what was it, the Raging Tomato, Flaming Tomato, Flying Tomato? – had already won the men’s competition and the leader in the women’s event was Kelly Clark, the American girl favored to win gold at next month’s Olympics and someone who has the name “Jesus” painted in large pink script on the bottom of her board. A shredder for Our Savior? I can dig it.

This is definitely a different kind of event, and one that hasn’t caught the eye of network advertisers yet since we saw the same two commercials over and over (“what do you think your beard is doing all day, taking a nap?”) but it has more than just attitude to set it apart from more traditional women’s winter sports. The competitors wear baggy, kind of punk, “uniforms’ instead of the skintight suits of skiers or the foofaraw of figure-skating outfits, and when the ladies are interviewed at the end of their runs they inevitably have hat hair, creases on their face from goggles and flaming red noses. No, this definitely isn’t figure skating. The girls have, however, mastered the big-time trick of keeping their sponsors’ names (including Jesus) prominently displayed for the cameras.

I think I can get to like this.

2 thoughts on “It’s winter time: Do you know what your daughters are doing?

  1. Welcome to the mid-90s, folks. Snowboarding rules, skating drools.

    Oh wait. Too much Mountain Dew for my breakfast beverage. Or actually, yes, cola.

    Anyway, as a snowboarding instructor, I’m glad that you found the contest interesting. The “big air” get is likely to be six inches at most, and I have made it through a halfpipe perhaps a half dozen times at most, but that only makes me appreciate the feats of the X-men and women even more. I figure it’s like watching football: I’m too big and slow to qualify for the MOB flag-football league, but I can enjoy watching a talented receiver make a one-handed grab with two feet in the air.

    As for Mr. (Flying Tomato) Shaun White, he has had a remarkable career. This season, snowboarders faced off in five “official” competitions (“The Chevy Tahoe series,” or something) to determine who will be on the U.S. Olympic team. One guy one them all: Mr. Shaun White. At the X games, he has won the halfpipe 4 years in a row—and he’s 19.

  2. There are three major kinds of snowboard competitions. One is halfpipe, which you saw.

    Another is slopestyle, which, like halfpipe, is a judged event. Riders jump onto handrails or picnic tables (“jibbing”), fly into the air, and may perform some twists along the way. Each rider picks his or her own “line” down the mountain, choosing among a variety of jumps, rails, etc. More difficult features are given more points if successful. Many athletes compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe, since there are some similarities.

    The third major form of competition is SBX, snowboard cross, or snowboardercross. It’s like motocross, but with snowboards, on snow. Four to eight riders race around gates, over jumps, etc. Knocking someone down is forbidden, but if someone goes down, well … things happen.

    The “snowboarding community” in the US is focused largely on halfpipe and slopestyle competition. Slopestyle won’t be in the upcoming Olympics. SBX and halfpipewill.

    By the way, there are several prominent (or once prominent) snowboarders who are self-identified Christians in addition to Kelly Clark. Dave Downing is a guy from the old days. Hannah Teter (still right in the thick of things), Luke Wynen (on his way out), Keir Dillon, and others. Google “Board for the Lord,” in the Aspen Times.

    “What you jib, jib for the Lord.”

Leave a Reply