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Saturday, January 29, 2011
Updated: March 25, 8:06 PM ET
Mike Ranquet month


Now and then -- proof that style is forever. Ranquet would have killed a Best Method contest as well.

It kind of seems like January has turned into "Mike Ranquet Month." First off, this month VBS.tv is featuring Ranquet in its third season of "Powder & Rails" -- the multi-part web-video series chronicling the history of snowboarding. And just last night, TransWorld presented Ranquet with their Legend award at the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) trade show in Denver, Colo.

And, hey: We're all for it.

Ranquet has gone off and on snowboarding's radar quite a bit over the years, but his legacy has always remained true to the core. An early proponent of skate-style tricks in the era of snowboarding filled with neon garb and freestyle grabs named after food, Ranquet has always been quick to speak his mind when it comes to what's cool and what he thinks is a stupid trend.

It's refreshing to hear from someone who was a young punk in the sport's early days but who clearly loves it as much as ever. Make sure to check the Ranquet series on VBS.tv to see classic Baker footage and some real cultural petri dish action from his backwoods vert ramp. Ranquet's description of Shawn Farmer as the "devil on one shoulder [with] Craig Kelly as the angel on the other" sounds just about perfect for this truly legendary northwest troublemaker.

We hit Ranquet up with a few questions before he went down to Denver to receive his Legend award:

Coast range mountains of B.C., circa 1997.

ESPN: Do you feel like a legend when you get out of bed in the morning?
Mike Ranquet:
To me it's not just a meaningless title bestowed upon me by the powers that be -- it's a whole new way of life. I equate it to being knighted by the Queen, and I believe certain perks and bonuses will start falling like rain drops into my lap.

We really enjoyed your BuoLoco bit on "the lack of personalities in snowboarding" and are wondering if you've had any change in your opinions since that went up?
By saying "lack of personalities" I mean a lack of riders being able to open up and be themselves. That in and of itself cuts off how much a rider is willing to put himself out there and or speak out against something he may or may not agree with. All of which are mechanisms of fear -- which sucks.

You said something to the effect of, "perfect parks everywhere are stopping riders from developing their imaginations and/or performing originally in natural terrain." Do you think your generation of riders had bigger imaginations?
I don't think they had bigger imaginations, just more active imaginations, because they needed them to survive as snowboarders. Not to say the imaginations of today's riders aren't running rampant -- it's that they don't apply them to mountains, which is weird.

I just think snowboarding as a whole shouldn't be so scared to grow up a little bit and show a more mature side. It's what is needed right now.

Any snowboarders out there today you think really embody the kind of originality you want to see more of?
They're out there riding every day. A couple names that come up quick would be Gigi Rüf, Nicolas Müller and T Rice.

I've noticed an upswing in people digging into snowboarding's past. Do you notice a new hunger for details on shredding's early days and, if so, where do you think this hunger's coming from?
I said this to my girlfriend two years ago: Once the Olympic circus awards a winner and packs up and leaves, the snowboard industry is going to have to look itself in the mirror. I think that is what has been going on the last six months. Maybe people are realizing that our history isn't as embarrassing as it has been made out to be, and that maybe it's something to embrace rather than push away.

Do you think it's even important that kids getting into snowboarding today even know anything about snowboarding's history?
I don't ever think it's important to shove needless history down anyone's throat. Once I was interested in the importance of today and how it came to be, then I was looking back and reverse engineering how crazy lucky we are to be where we're at. I think [that] snowboard history is having that realization now with its own past.

Legends of snowboarding sandwich -- Haakonsen, Ranquet and Jake Burton.

Your big vert ramp gets a lot of play in "Powder & Rails." I had no idea it was such a cultural crucible for everything from music to the Volcom team gelling. You must miss it...
More than anything. I loved having a vert ramp. It was the driving force behind me being such an advocate of snowboarding following skateboarding instead of skiing. To a lot of people back then that would've normally written snowboarding off, the fact that I had a proper vert ramp and could skate it made them see that there must be something more than neon clothes and jester hats.

What have you been doing with yourself the last few years?
My girlfriend lives on Maui, so I moved out there. When I first moved I was in complete denial about my hip [injury]. Once I realized the seriousness of my situation, I went to Chicago for the operation (total hip replacement) and came back to Maui to heal. There is a perfect vert ramp and a 12.5-foot pool that I skate three to four days a week, and otherwise I surf a little bit.

Whistler, B.C. storm shot, circa 1996.

Does snowboarding need more smart-asses right now?
No one needs a smart ass but sometimes a smart ass is needed to take the piss out of something... Does snowboarding need to have the piss taken out of it? Yes.

If you dropped a shiny, new, fresh-faced 12-year-old kid off at Mt. Baker and dropped another identical 12-year-old kid off at a California park mountain and came back five years later to see how they're faring, how do you imagine these two otherwise identical kids would differ?
You'd have two very different motivations as to what gets them up in the morning. I think a kid that rides Baker is more in touch with the mountains and the power they possess and the kid that grows up at a resort will be more in touch with what it takes to be sponsored rider.

What aspects of the grand scheme of snowboarding today get you stoked, what doesn't?
Since my injury I'm stoked on just riding, and at a certain point -- as selfish as it is -- it's what is most important to me now. As far as "the industry" goes, when you look at the two ends of the spectrum -- urban rail kids on one end and Jeremy Jones' "Deeper" on the other -- you realize that there is a lot of room in between. People riding who are over 25 have been abandoned -- they're still buying product and still riding, but the mags and marketing campaigns have largely pretended that they don't exist.

I just think snowboarding as a whole shouldn't be so scared to grow up a little bit and show a more mature side. It's what is needed right now.