Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Current State: Sandboarding

Following the success of David Benedek’s book Current State: Snowboarding and now that it’s the end of the season we thought we’d dissect snowboarding’s summer cousin, sandboarding…

The Beginning
The two sports share some similarities. Like snowboarding, sandboarding has no defined starting point or single recognised inventor. People have been riding boards down sand dunes since the 1940s but it was only in the 1960s, mirroring the development of snowboarding, that the sport started to gain some popularity when a few pioneers started to define the sport. 

Here’s a Joe vs The Volcano era Tom Hanks and some awkwardly apparelled friends sandboarding back in those halcyon days. 
One of the major causes for the lack of growth of sandboarding was their insistence on only using porn backing tracks in their edits.

The Middle
Sandboarding grew modestly in the shadow of snowboarding during the 70s and 80s, but it did benefit from the progression and adoption of snowboarding technology. By the 90s and early 00s the sport was at a peak, it started to get featured in the media outside of the sport, someone went to the trouble of building a dedicated sandboarding park in the US, a small circuit of semi-professional events took off including a World Championships and to top it off the sport even got some celebrity endorsements such as:
Celebrity snowboarder and sometime skateboarder Tony Hawk
and his comedy toupée

Some of Tony's celebrity mates including Dame Kelly Holmes (British middle distance runner), Layne Beachley aptly named seven time World Champion surfer, two random triathletes and  professional in-line skater (I shit you not, they exist) (in France) Taïg Khris.
In neither picture does Tony Hawk's face look like it's enjoying itself

Cameron-Fucking-Diaz, random travel buddy pro-skateboarder Eric Koston and a rag tag group of assorted celebrities and entourage. 
Skip to 5.15 if you want to see Cameron Diaz doing some impressive scorpioning in the desert.

The End
Snowboarding has gone from strength to strength and today there are over six million snowboarders in the US alone. Sandboarding on the other hand is not going so well and no one has even gone to the trouble of counting the few thousand remaining participants. This very literal 90s style website is left as the biggest website for sandboardists, after getting a hell of a battering the celebrities have moved onto gentler pastimes and the last World Championships took place in 2008. Here's a video of the 2007 event... 

Today sandboarding is mostly something people do once for about an hour, when they find themselves on a holiday in a desert, after they’ve spent 90% of their holiday trying to figure out why they went on holiday to a desert in the first place.
Cross country sandskiing never even got off the ground. 

Current State
So why has sandboarding not become as big in summer as snowboarding is in winter? Here’s a few things to consider...
Good: You can do it in the summer so global warming can go and do one
Bad: Short runs. Sand dunes are the shit bit of surfing, they are to surfing what car parks are to snowboarding.
Good: Less painful crashes (compared to pistes), sometimes...

Good: You need less kit and specialist clothing, so the big benefit is...
it's cheaper

Bad: There are downsides to the lack of specialist clothing - see Tom Hanks video 
Very Bad: No lifts.

Good: This…
a sandboard ski lift

Let's not mess about, by far the biggest benefit to going snowboarding is the dune buggies. If you go on one of these trips 90% of the time spent and 90% of the fun to be had when sandboarding (and when not spending 90% of your time regretting being in a desert) is on the commute to and from the sandboarding part.

Bad: There's an odds on chance you'll be killed or enslaved by...
Good: It’s a bit like snowboarding
Bad: Like shit snowboarding
When Dubai, a land that only consists of sand dunes and should be the promised land for sandboarding, goes to the trouble of building huge snowdome costing $400,000,000 for snowboarding, it makes you realise how shit sandboarding is by comparison.

Bonus Celebrities Taking Part in Obscure Sand-based Sports Pictures
Like sandboarding, sandskiing got its own celebrity endorsements in it's brief flicker of a heyday...
Marilyn Monroe

Jill Ireland, Dr Spock's love interest and Charles Bronson's wife

Sadly Marilyn Monroe's invention of, and endorsement of, spaniel-powered sandskiing never came to much either

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1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately the author of this article knows nothing about sandboarding. But... you can! or


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