|If you can’t get to the slopes, you might take some pleasure in reading about snowboarding.
There’s a lot to not like about most snowboarding magazines. At least that’s the opinion of the reviewer, a whitebread middle-aged guy who is blissfully ignorant of nearly everything dealing with MTV, indie rock, and hip-hop. He has been known to take a glass of wine with dinner or a pint of stout during an evening among friends, but can’t imagine that drinking until dawn and then puking on the chairlift the next morning is any fun.
He’s also a cruiser rather than a cliff-dropper, and is taking his time in trying out the halfpipe. He does not think that sports injuries are cool or a badge of honor, but he does appreciate the poetry of a well-executed turn, jump, or landing. Keep these things in mind, reader, as they color the reviews below. Though he enjoys riding, our reviewer bristles at the thought that snowboarding is a “lifestyle,” reserving that term for other matters such as faith and family.
Your mileage may vary; adjust your TV set accordingly.
Pricey and Classy
We start out with a high-gloss, high-price production, Frequency: The Snowboarder’s Journal, It’s on the expensive side; subscriptions go for $40 (4 issues a year), and a newsstand copy will set you back $13. But take consolation in this: high price means less advertising clutter. The magazine has 110 pages available, but use only 10 or so for advertisements. The high price is likely the reason why there is little content on the magazine’s web site; no use giving away the store.
Frequency emphasizes big mountain riding, including back country terrain suitable only for advanced or even expert riders. In a typical issue, it includes an interview with or profile of a professional rider, and a story about riding somewhere outside the U.S. Most importantly, it features full-page photos, on heavy paper stock, of spectacular scenery and riders enjoying untracked powder. You don’t have to be able to ride on that terrain to appreciate the eye candy.
Subscriptions also come with a DVD, so you can enjoy more visual treats. One downside to the magazine: like others in the trade, it uses very small fonts. Maybe that’s a clue to pay more attention to the photos.
The Snowboard Journal used to fill this market space as well, but it ceased publication after only few years.
Fair to Middlin’
Future Snowboarding [link now broken]
Future Snowboarding made its debut with the November 2005 issue. It suffers from some of the design problems that plague other snowboarding magazines, namely, a difficult-to-read color combination of fonts and background, along with tiny typefaces. Do you get the impression that snowboarders aren’t much interested in reading? The magazine indulges a fair amount of vulgarity, though not as much as TransWorld Snowboarding, while sharing much of its attitude. In his inaugural letter to readers, for example, the editor muses that snowboarding requires a “recessive gene that starts humming as soon as you point your carcass down a hill.” To which we say: nonsense! To begin with, humans don’t have carcasses, thank you very much, and some of us snowboarders don’t appreciate the “recessive” comment.
Oh yes, there’s also a one-page review of some indie music. The “lifestyle” folly appears once again. Can we instead get some letters-to-the-editor? Gear review? Something actually related to riding?
Future Snowboarding does have a useful Q&A section as well as a collection of readers’ tips, and factoids about snowboarding. The first issue contains a review of boards, including women-specific boards. A photo gallery provides a tie-in to the web site, with a “vote for your favorite photo” feature. A review of Whistler contains a fold-out trail map, and a “best of” list, that includes–cue up the stereotypes–“Best place to eat breakfast with a hangover.” If that’s your thing, it will be useful to know.
The charter issue came with a DVD. The disk has better resolution on the computer than on a regular DVD player/TV combination. It also contains computer wallpaper and links to web sites, neither of which will do any good on a TV-top DVD player. The features of the disk could be better arranged, but it’s a start. Published bimonthly, Future Snowboarding is available for subscription at a rate of $12 per year, the news stand price of one copy of the two previously reviewed magazines.
Still, Snowboarder gets some credit. A recent issue featured a letter from a 56-year old rider, and a list of 22 notable riders who are “Over 30 but not over the hill.” The DVD that came with the issue used for review purposes had many freestyle tricks worth a look, for admiration if not inspiration. On the graphic design front, the web site may be more readable than the print edition, which is not a great testimony to the magazine.
By the way, the magazine’s name is snowboarder, but its web site is snowboardermag.com. Enter snowboarder-dot-com, and you get taken to a spammish web site. [October 2009: Now you get taken to Snow on Grind TV, a great improvement.]
The copy reviewed for this site included one article authored by a man who concludes that snowboarding is his life (yawn). On the other side of the maturity divide, a second article was penned by someone who has come to peace with the fact that he can’t ride 100 days a season anymore. There’s also a photo spread of various gear and clothing; since the credits are obscured, one must conclude that the feature is meant to be eye candy rather than informational. There are a few interviews of pro riders, who talk about the boards they have designed. Unfortunately, the interviews come and go without leaving much of a trace. On the other hand, the magazine does have some impressive photos of backcountry riders.
You can get a subscription for about $10, but be prepared for a lot of ads.
Note that its web site is snowboard-mag.com, not snowboard.com.
If you like MTV
Older “out of it” adults may wish to keep a dictionary of hip-hop words on hand. With its references to “your parents” and “your grandparents,” TWS pitches itself as a “no adults allowed” club. That might be just as well; older eyes strain at the extra-small types used in some of the articles, as well as the white text laid out on red backgrounds.
Snowboarding history is filled with anxiety over “selling out,” or what the rest of the world calls “growing up and getting a job.” TWS pays tribute to that ethic, though it should be noted that the periodical is published by a giant corporation (Bonner) with nearly $3 billion in annual revenue. In other words, it is owned by “the man.”
Here’s a clue, folks: snowboarding can happily exist as a participant sport, a spectator sport, and a business. The mountain’s big enough for everyone to find a place.
While TWS has elements that the grown-up reader may find tiresome, it does have a handful of useful articles. A recent edition, for example, featured stories about gear and techniques, as well as a preview of the 2006 Olympics. Click here to subscribe to TransWorld Snowboarding.
Taking Care of Business
Ski Area Management
North American Snowsports Journalists Association