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Taking it to the Streets Hot

rubansnowboarding2Urban Snowboarding are a growing trendUrban Snowboarding is trending.

After years of operating in relative obscurity, the X-Games put on Urban Snowboarding’s first-ever competitive event, literally bringing the street to the mountain and the sport to a national audience.

During the Snowboard Street Event eight of the sport’s elite threw their best tricks, grinding and jibbing off rails – in search of an unprecedented Gold Medal. Nic Sauvé was the event’s inaugural winner, finishing ahead of fellow Canadians Louis-Felix Paradis and Simon Chamberlain after a 30-minute best trick, jam session.

In fact, both Sauvé and Paradis are from Quebec City – considered a hotspot for Urban Snowboarding.

Sauvé’s smooth style earned him the fan vote in “Real Snow” – a video contest held prior to the X-Games, in which the same eight riders from the live event filmed their best “urban” sessions and submitted them for judgment.

The judges disagreed with fans, naming Utah’s Dan Brisse the official winner of the Real Snow video contest. Brisse received an X-Games Gold Medal and $50,000 as a result. Unfortunately, he was unable to compete in Aspen after falling off a ledge and injuring himself filming a session two weeks ago.

For these riders, its not about medals or prizes, but more importantly, exposing the sport, earning respect and enjoying the camaraderie. “We’re usually out having a good time filming,” Sauvé said. “It was no different here, there was a great vibe.”

The media coverage in Aspen put on grand display what hardcore fans have always known – Urban Snowboarders are the gutsiest riders around, constantly punishing their bodies in pursuit of pushing the sport to new extremes.urbansnowboarding

Falling 60-feet from a rooftop and tumbling down a flight of stairs after a failed rail-grind are normal everyday occurrences for these concrete conquerors. More often than not, tricks fail, but the will to go bigger and better is only strengthened through painful defeat.

And, it’s not just the complete and utter lack of fear that’s astonishing about this breed of snowboarder. It’s the total commitment athletes give to participate in the sport. That’s because no established snowboard parks exist in any city, forcing riders to construct their own downtown digs in frigid temperatures – often in avoidance of the authorities.

The artistry of these self-made snowparks is as beautiful as the tricks performed in them. Creators blend a multitude of mundane municipal elements into snow-filled street playgrounds.

With the help of some well-placed snow, handrails become grind rails, exit ramps become launching points and concrete walls turn into halfpipes. The city landscape morphs into a winter playland usually reserved for the mountains.

The pursuit of the perfect spot is something that consumes veteran JP Walker, “I spend so much of my day thinking about it and I can’t control my mind. I just picture everything around me covered in white, and finding that perfect spot.”

As evidenced by the “Real Snow” competition, viral video is another critical element of Urban Snowboarding’s participation and proliferation. Thousands of homemade videos can be viewed online – posted by snowboarders on YouTube and elsewhere. Don’t be surprised if that number spikes after the Winter X-Games spotlight was shone on the sport.

However, Snowboard Street competitor Jeremy Jones believes the sport is more about the labor of love and not the publicity, “It’s all about the grind and the twenty hour sessions and the search for a spot to complete a trick that you have. I won’t stop until I can’t walk. It’s addicting.”

Moving forward, Jones’ addiction will likely be shared by thousands of adrenaline junkies now aware of this form of aerial artistry.

Ryan O'Leary

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