You guys seeing this showdown between Shaun White and Mark McMorris? Shit. I can’t even imagine the pressure on those two. If McMorris doesn’t win, he comes off looking like a real deal asshole. And if he does win, Shaun has to go home and cry on his bed made of gold medals and cash and a ridiculous legacy.
I was really trying to avoid Xgamesy stuff. But I had to watch this video, simply because a Helgason put it out:
Holy shit. Look right there, in the background. Shaun White is co-mingling with other riders. He’s not sequestered in a private Shaun White Stride Gums Lounge. Is this a new Shaun White we are seeing?
People love to go off about who’s going to beat Shaun White, and it’s going to start happening—probably consistently and probably soon. The guy has been on top for a decade now. I’ve wondered time and time again if snowboarding is even fun for Shaun White. It never seemed to be about screwing around with friends, it was about winning. Now I’m wondering if it isn’t getting a bit old for him.
Can he put his game together tight enough to take home medals in halfpipe and slopestyle in Sochi?
What if he did it and walked away? What if he pulled a Craig on us? What if he stepped off that Russian podium, walked into the mountains and never came back? Would we still spit vitriol at him? Would we still blame him for ruining snowboarding?
But that is tangential. I’m here to discuss a young dude that is making me happy that I still follow snowboarding.
Jamie Nicholls, who I once bagged on for being from the UK. This kid is the raddest in the game right now. First off, he is an impressively good rider. You can see him get loose at the Nike Chosen event last year:
Now consider that he grew up riding dry slopes, because he was from the UK.
But apart from that the kid is straight-up 18-year old. He’s out there with friends and having a good time. Blasting off tweets like this:
Then jock-poppa in charge of snowboarding in the UK reprimands him.
In a shocking turn of events, Jock-poppa gets charged at because this is snowboarding and it’s all about having fun and screwing off, it’s not rugby and he backs down, admitting he needs to learn to roll. You don’t see the game get played like that in the USA.
Jamie Nicholls, free to be young again, heads off to Quebec for a contest. He makes it through to the finals, but doesn’t do as well as he hoped to, so he puts out something like an apology on the tweets.
WhoTF is this dude? Dude just brushes it off, essentially says “I’ll do better next time” and goes to hit street rails. Perhaps he feels like he owes his followers this, because he’s on the dole, sucking from the titty of the British sporting public (In case you missed that part). It seems like a noble thing to do.
More importantly it seems like a well-adjusted thing to do. This dude is 18 and apparently has been on the British scene since he was six. Contrast that to Shaun White who played that role for those of us in the US. Shaun has always been on a pedestal. Whether it was self-imposed or done at the bidding of other forces, Shaun has existed completely outside of snowboarding. It’s part of what has allowed him to be so successful, but it’s one of the biggest factors having lead to the incessant Shaun-bashing.
Honestly I hope this kid keeps ripping the shit out of things. According to the European connection, riders like Jamie and his pal Billy Morgan have a good chance of blowing up before they head to Sochi. And, It doesn’t hurt to have the likes of Nike and Salomon behind you. The guy is headed for great things, and he may never really hit it big stateside, but I really hope the next group of contest kids, and more importantly their parents and (for fuck’s sake) coaches, take note on how to be awesome for yourself, your friends and the whole shred game.
***The screen grabs I used came from Whitelines article about the twitter kerfuffle, which you can read here.