It was with a tinge of sadness that I deleted www.snowserve.co.uk from my links yesterday.
The site was set up in 1999 as a companion to the "snow" list, an email list created in 1996 by Will Macdonald to connect UK snowboarders. Although it had a relatively small number of subscribers (100-150 I think) the list in those days was an excellent resource for UK riders and as a community it thrived, spawning several meet ups, snowboarding trips and friendships.
In the heady days of 1999 expanding the list to a web site seemed the obvious next move and Snowserve was born one September evening in Costa Coffee in Soho Square. My small contribution to the initial brainstorming session was to suggest the name; the site itself was developed by Will and Chris Berry.
Despite a burst of initial enthusiasm from a core of eager contributors, the web site never really took off to the extent we had all hoped, though it did continue to serve as a portal and archive for the mailing list.
In the last season or two even the mailing list has gone quiet as more and more people gravitate away from email lists and towards web forums. Last week Will and Chris decided to pull the plug on the Snowserve web site and call it a day (the list will continue).
It is sad to see it go but I hope that as the Web changes some of the old contributors may turn to blogs to share their snowboard know-how and when they do I will be the first to link to them.
John Kerry has been snowboarding in Sun Valley and Howard Dean was famously turned away from Mad River Glen, one of the few remaining ski areas were riders are not welcome, when he was Governor of Vermont.
It is clearly a stunt on Kerry's part as he is really a skier but, fair play to him for trying.
The Times ran a 5 day series on fitness for snowboarding this week with a recommended daily exercise regime. I might just try it next week in preparation for my upcoming week in Tignes. Here are the links to each day (free registration may be required): Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.
That lucky fellow, Jake Burton, reports on the African leg of his world tour including snowboarding in the Atlas mountains of Morocco as part of an attempt to ride six continents in a year.
When I first started to promote this site I listed it with all the usual search engines and with the Open Directory Project (ODP), the open source directory of The Web. The ODP is built and maintained by the collaboration of thousands of volunteer editors and its directory data is freely available and is used by most of the major search engines.
Well I got my copy of The Snowboard Journal and it is very good.
It is, as I hoped, quite unlike other snowboard magazines. It is beautifully produced on thick quality paper with hardly any ads and is full of exquisitely printed photos that are not just 'rad', but beautiful to look at and well contextualised with narrative.
The Wicklund Project is the intriguing tale of how a Burton exec got hold of 1930's film footage of members of the Wicklund family riding rudimentary snowboard sledges in Chicago and, get this, linking turns! The film footage, together with some of the boards, are in Burton's archive - a shame the footage is not available on the history part of their web site.
Meteorite is the story of an epic heli trip in Alaska and reads like an armchair adventure. More please.
The Snowboard Journal is well worth the price, I just hope they can maintain the quality.
My weekend trip to La Bresse in the Vosges was a great success. Driving down on Friday night we were held up for an hour or so on the A26 just north of Rheims by snow and snow ploughs but other than that the journey in both directions was smooth and painless. On Sunday we left La Bresse-Hohneck at 3:00pm and were back in London by 10:00pm, frequent driver changes and an iPod set to shuffle made the journey a breeze.
Spotted this piece in the Anglican Journal (I'm a regular reader don't you know) about Neil Elliot and his PhD thesis in the spirituality of snowboarding. It caught my attention because I had met Neil through the Snowserve mailing list and I was one of the riders he interviewed.
Talking to Neil did get me thinking about snowboarding as a meditation and certainly I have found that it can sometimes be like that, especially when you find yourself alone on the mountain rhythmically linking turns like a mantra. I can identify with his 'out of body' experience in these situations.
I am reminded of the mad cult leader Frederick Lenz's book Snowboarding the Himalayas in which he describes transcendental snowboarding (sounded more like an acid trip to me) but I think Neil has a bit more credibility.
I have been looking forward to reading the thesis (well maybe an executive summary and his conclusions) but it looks like he has some more 'research' to do in BC before writing it up!
It seems that between filming he rode down under a lift, took off over a ten foot drop, landed on the tail of his board and struck the back of his head on a small rock under the snow. He was apparently taken to hospital in a coma and never recovered. It is being described as a freak accident and it is a tragedy for this young snowboarder's family but I can't help wondering whether he was wearing a helmet and, if not, whether it might have saved his life.