It’s our third book review and we’ve now used the weak ‘Judging a book by its cover’ pun two more times than we hoped to, but if there’s one thing we’ve found out about snowboard books it’s that the key to them is in the cover. And ‘The Way of the Snowboarder’ by Rob Reed doesn’t disappoint because this book has the shiniest cover I’ve ever seen. Its mesmerising sheen is simply awesome. If you want the most reflective coffee book possible on the subject of snowboarding then read no further because here it is…
The title of the book might sound like some kind of new age hippy shit but that’s misleading because it’s actually a good account of the history of snowboarding. The book focuses on the stories of people involved in the development of the sport, rather than the events themselves or the technology and that’s a good thing. Rob Reed interviews a number of key characters, from the guys that were there at the beginning like Jake Burton and Tom Sims, through some of the major snowboarders who influenced the sport such as Craig Kelly, Shaun Palmer and Terje Haakonsen and it finishes with a young Shaun White. Unfortunately, as is the danger with any old fashioned offline book, it hasn’t managed to keep up to date and it stops in 2005, but still it doesn’t diminish the interest of the other 40 odd years.
To be honest I knew way too much about the history of this sport before I started reading this book, but I still learned a few new things:
- Tom Sims is a very, very competitive man, especially when it comes to trying to claim sole responsibility for inventing the first snowboard. (p.29-30)
He’s also quite the ladies man.
- This great picture of Jeff Brushie pulling a method in the middle of a giant slalom race at the 1992 Mountain OP Contest. The photo was taken at the time that a division in the sport was starting to happen between the older alpine events and the emerging freestyle scene and this was one of the defining moments of that change. (p.47)
Now that’s how you're supposed to do it Jacobellis
- Tom Burt, Jim Zellers, Craig Kelly and Burt LeMar appeared in the apparently “now-infamous” Juicy Fruit commercial in 1987. (p.72) As a Britisher I had no idea about it or why it was considered infamous, so I looked it up and thanks to the power of the interweb here it is in all its glory...
Still not sure why it is infamous though. I was expecting some soft porn at least.
- Mount McKinley has a snow chute call the Orient Express which is called that because its “nicknamed for the large number of Asians that have fallen from the ridgeline at 19,000 feet and plummeted down a 4,000 foot headwall to their deaths.” Nice (p.72 again, great page)
- Rob Reed loves Terje Haakonsen. He really, really does love him…“Part of what has bolstered Terje to living-legend status is the unique, give-and-take relationship he’s established with gravity – it’s as if the two forces spar with the mutual respect of a master swordsman. It’s a magnificent thing to witness.” (p.126-139)
Nice picture of Terje sparing with gravity and making his debut at the 1990 World Championships...
It’s not specified in the book but I assume that the World Championships was a snowboarding event, although looking at the crowd there’s an odds on chance it could have been the World Championships of Amazed Facial Expressions.
On a side note, why do some people waste their time at events like this taking photos? The only three folks not stuck dumb by awe and having a great time are the three people with cameras and one of them is so caught up in the logistics he’s missed the whole thing. You’re better off leaving well alone and waiting to get hold of the pictures taken by the professional photographers after the event. Leave the photography and in this case the snowboarding to the professionals and concentrate on enjoying the event.
Anyway, back to the book.
This is the best snowboarding history book I’ve come across so far. I’d recommend it to anybody that is even just mildly interested in the origins of the sport, or people who like really shiny things in general. Another plus is that it is currently cheap as chips on Amazon.
P.S. After reading the book I looked up the guy that wrote it. It might explain why the name of the book sounded new age, because Rob Reed really is. He runs a blog called MaxGladwell.com and here are some extracts from his site…
Rob Reed is the visionary and author of MaxGladwell.com, a leading independent blog that covers the nexus of social media and green living.
Who is Max Gladwell then?
Max Gladwell™ is not a person. It’s not a pseudonym or an alias or an alter ego. It’s something much greater.
Max Gladwell is a story.
It’s a story about the nexus of social media and green living. It’s a story being told in real time about real people—about the very people who are living the story. It’s a story that tells of the evolution and convergence of technology, sustainability, entrepreneurship, government, and humanity.
That’s some crazy shit and I still have no idea what the hell MaxGladwell is.
If you’re reading this, then you are part of that story.
What? Shit do I have to be? Turns out I’m now part of the most confused story since the Matrix trilogy, and I guess you are too.
The book is available on Amazon. I guess if you buy it in some way you’ll help save the planet or something.