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David Benedek On The Current State Of Snowboarding

Current State: Snowboarding. With such a demanding title, you might expect that author, editor, and designer David Benedek is offering answers. Right off the bat, however, Benedek clarifies that this may not be the case; that the book instead provides a ‘blurry’ insight as to what the culture of snowboarding has come to.

Pro-shred David Benedek has spent the last three years piecing together the past thirty; crafting two-interconnected books that present a 450-page snapshot of, well, the past and current state of snowboarding. From its raw, rowdy, non-conformist start, right up to the contracts, contests, and double-corkage that have come to define its progress, Benedek has molded an impressively coherent lineage of the sport’s history. Current State boasts 23 candid and unapologetic interviews with the culture’s most influential, innovative, and arguably insane, including: Shaun Palmer, Jake Burton, Richard Woolcott, Terje Haakonsen, Mike Basich, Travis Rice, and 18 other legends. With everything from personal narratives to hand-drawn pictures, Benedek traces the evolution of the sport up till now. The two books can be read separately, but together they combine like Voltron, offering 4- page compilations of correlated content; a literal bridge between past and present.

“We’re in a time where core and corporate worlds converge, where it’s not easy to stay true to the roots of snowboarding and why it’s interesting and unique,” Blue Montgomery.

Needless to say, Current State is an unprecedented dive into the world of snowboarding, dissecting it from core to corporate; from the days of Shaun Palmer’s American flag suit and half-shaved head, to the realm of reality television and Shaun White gum. The days of boarders as ski-resort rejects may be long gone, but many of the sport’s founders seem to question whether or not this is a positive thing. The evolution of snowboarding has brought the sport into the mainstream, with contest riders like Louie Vito becoming the face of the industry. Vito, for example, has gained fame from his domination in the superpipe, but also for his turn on Dancing With The Stars-and with sponsors like Toyota and Barbasol shaving cream, he is a prime example of the direction snowboarding has taken. It is impossible to belittle the obvious talent and insane progression that today’s riders bring to the table, but the question remains: has this progress come at the cost of that core, rebellious spirit that united riders to begin with? Have style and passion been sacrificed in pursuit of sponsors? Benedek captions one photo with the comment, “I thought it was about going out and having fun. Not about hoping to have your own TV show and buy some gay Euro sports car.”

Some see this growth as both natural and promising. As Danny Davis states, “I think snowboarding will always retain that core element and attract people you won’t be able to fit into a box…I actually think snowboarding’s in a pretty amazing state of change, turning away from a lot of this stale shit. And as for the younger generation: They might have a more professional environment, but they are not going to change the core of what snowboarding is. They’re still part of the culture for the most part.” Peter Line, for his part, compares the various levels within snowboarding to music genres, which people can take freely in any direction. With growth comes new opportunities for creativity and style, and small, quirky tricks haven’t lost their appeal.

TransWorld Business had the chance to catch up with Benedek and get a look at what Current State is all about…

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