Outside magazine, January 1996
"I knew they'd come around," says Glen Plake, the unmistakably mohawked star of extreme-skiing flicks and patron saint of snowboard-bashing. "Maybe there's a reason all those places are called ski areas?"
Plake is talking about a gentle shift in the landscape of winter sports that some say could become, believe it or not, a major quake in the next few years: Snowboarders chucking their baggy pants and Frankenstein boots to become skiers.
"As soon as everyone and their grandma started snowboarding, it just didn't seem so cool any more," says Jon Heine, a snowboarding pioneer and cofounder of board manufacturer Gnu, who is widely credited with being the first high-profile snowboarder to make the switch. Among the growing list of complaints about the sport: the tiring, Flintstonesque way in which you have to push yourself along in the flats, the difficulty in negotiating Moguls, and the dull ache that results from long chairlift rides dangling a 15-pound tongue depressor from one foot.
One snowboarding company, Seattle-based Lib Tech, has even begun producing--gasp--a few pairs of skis. "We like to stay ahead of the competition," says spokesman Pete Saari. "And we feel that when nobody's skiing anymore, skiing will be the trendy thing to do." Don't haul your stick to the Salvation Army thrift shop just yet, though. "I'm not concerned at all," says Brian Delaney, co-owner of the Aspen-based Delaney Adult Snowboarding Camp. "If skiing is the next fad. Then snowboarding is the next next fad.