Friday, June 26, 2009

LEGO Snowboarding and the ‘Whatever happened to Ross Powers?’ Mystery

A lot of companies have jumped on the snowboard merchandising bandwagon over the years. Strangely a little company from the land of bacon and no hills joined the party at one time. Here is LEGO’s contribution.

Back in the heady days of 2003 LEGO produced a series of snowboarding sets and their press release explained why:
“The philosophy of this generation mirrors the core values of LEGO products, imagination, creativity, fun and self-expression, making the alliances a natural fit.”
Such a natural fit that the series ceased production that same year

Two LEGO snowboarders riding the pow in front of the Great Ice Sphinx.

LEGO produced three sets which you can still purchase at a hefty premium through Amazon:

LEGO Sports: Gravity Games Super Pipe - cost $100

Rabbit Boy rips it up...

LEGO Sports: Gravity Games Boardercross - Cost $194

7-12 why is this one not suitable for kids aged 6 like the other one? Must be that they are more likely to damage themselves on the rails. I always do in real life..

All this for a price of an actual snowboard. Is it worth it?
And there is one more.
LEGO Sports: Some other kit - cost unknown

Featuring the Unabomber.

They only cost $9-$45 back in 2003. That’s inflation for you. Back then the $194 you now have to pay to get the boardercross set would buy you a small home.

Why did they stop production? Here are my guesses.

  • They ride boards the size of old wooden surf boards. This really limits the freestyle progression. If only they had short, poppy boards with reverse rocker camber, these little guys could have been contenders.

  • A hill made of LEGO is immediately a hill covered in moguls.

Moguls - Real-life's LEGO snowboarding hell

  • They were forced to wear rather impractical motorbike helmets. Sweaty...

  • The snowboarders looked like seasoned criminals. That’s not going to encourage the kids to enjoy the sport. That will encourage them to think the mountains are infested with crazed child catchers.

  • Once you've assemble the kits the only thing you can do is make really shit videos and stick them on YouTube...

This one is very real. Starts of with a classic 90 to face plant. Music is a bit wrong though...

X-treme Man Sabotage. A lot of work has gone into this. Still it has a good tune and this is the most important thing to get right in any snowboard video.

THis one is my favourite. Very minimalistic

The ‘Whatever happened to Ross Powers?’ Mystery
Now I noticed that there is a snowboarder complete with signature on the box, so I decided to find out who it was, and it turns out it was Ross Powers. Remember him? Ross “The Boss” Powers? The guy with the gold medal? No?

The Lego Press release mentioned him:

“world-renowned vertical master, Bob Burnquist, and Olympic gold medallist snowboarder, Ross Powers”

Yes, Ross Powers, the guy who won a gold medal in the half pipe at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.

How much cooler does Bob Burnquist’s job sound though? In a similar way by life’s ambition is to become a world-renowned horizontal master.

Anyway after winning the medal everything was going for Ross, he had the LEGO series, he had the big Burton signature snowboard deal...

He had the short-lived personalised Huck Doll...

The website for Huck Dolls is possible the least interactive site I have ever seen

He had is own VHS video called 'Gold Medalist Ross Powers Trick Tips'

Easy as 3’s, 5’s and 9’s.
Yeah sounds real easy. I mastered 9's one week after starting snowboarding.

He gazed lovingly into Tony the Tiger’s eyes...

And you know you’ve hit the big time when you have your very own Congolese stamp...

He had the women, the lifestyle and he was heading to become the first snowboarder to earn a $1million in sponsorship and then he dropped off the radar. What happened to him?

Essentially nothing much. He didn’t suddenly quit the sport and become a monk and he didn’t go off to snowboard in the Himalayas, basically he was still snowboarding but people just forgot who he was. He lost the big Burton contract in 2008 because of his decent into obscurity and we know the LOGO was short lived so what’s he up to now?

Well he’s still snowboarding and he’s got a few things going on...

  • He has a Foundation to help snowboarders with financial needs. Which is nice
  • He is part owner in a shop called Podium (he’s a gold medal winner don’t you know)

Ross Powers - Gold Medalist - Proof.
  • He runs a paving company. Although this may be a different Ross Powers. Still one day I hope that this misinformation gets added to his Wikipedia profile
  • And lastly he is trying to get back in the spotlight by qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics in the boardercross. You can follow him on Twitter whatever that is. He is pretty determined to remind us that he is a gold medalist if his logo is anything to go by...

Maybe he can practice his boardercross skills on his LEGO set.

Mystery solved. The end.

I also found an old LEGO snowboarding game if you fancy a play. Check out some of the more advanced moves like the 'Walk the Plank' and the 'Hang Time'. I'm hoping to see them in action in next season's batch of snowboarding vids.

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