by David MacKinnon

As expectation sets in, boarding changes. This will be the best season ever, I’m gonna light up the park. That TM is feeling me, my rep’s getting me a deck. With this new glass I’m getting a shot published for sure. I’m getting trained on the cat, this year I’ll be pushing jumps. Pretty soon they’re gonna pay me. Shit can keep you up at night.

I don’t mean to slag on ambition. We strive, and that’s important– Rasman didn’t get a pro model, three covers in a row, and a project with Travis slacking on his goals. But expectation is a little different. It creeps around with entitlement, and has a funny way of turning into disappointment– bad voodoo. You might even sour on snowboarding, and that would be no good. This lifestyle gets real hard to justify if snowboarding is an escape to the wrong place. Plus we need ya, bud, your shit is where it’s at. I see you building that backyard park for the homies and hooking up sticker-hungry groms– if you’re passionate about snowboarding, you belong.

But expectation hits and you fixate. It’s the same as riding a line or battling at a spot. You slip into a mental space that makes you vulnerable to poor decision-making. Your perception gets warped, tunnel vision sets in, and you hold on to something that can hurt you. It might be what you expect of yourself that stings you, maybe with an early season injury or a bad mood leaving a session where you didn’t get a clip. But that darkness can just as easily come from what we expect of other people. I’ve burned bridges when folks were trying to help me out, just because what they brought to the table wasn’t in line with my expectation. It’s not a good feeling.

I think of expectation like I think of risk. Without it no reward, sure, but handle it poorly and get spit out. And just like before I stick my neck out in the mountains, when expectation comes along I try to pause and clear my head. I ask questions. In place of “is this the right line for the day?” it’s “what am I looking to gain right now?” “Can I make that choke before my sluff?” becomes “have I earned it?” If the answer is yes, I’m more likely to drop in, more likely to treat that expectation as an acceptable part of my ambition. If no, maybe I change my thinking. The modern man must hustle, and hustlers must adapt. Let go what brings you down and move.

A quick note: there may be cases when your expectation is justified but isn’t met. Maybe you’re a photographer still waiting for a cheque, or a rider who genuinely should be sponsored but isn’t. I feel you, but that’s a topic for another day– for now I’ll urge professionalism and leave it there.

Chad Chomlack photo

I know this is a snowboard mag and I’m preaching. But here’s the thing: expectation is good for industry, and it’s function of snowboard media to whip it up. Expectations for the season open up that wallet, and as we tell our stories we sell you on the dream. And straight up, I want you hooked for life– if this piece prevents burnout, I’m doing my job. So take this as a disclaimer when re-watching Kamikazu, when reading about that perfect Kootenay pow, when tearing out your homie’s check-out for the wall. We’re gonna show you what’s up, give you the line on how to get it, and sell you on what genuinely is the best lifestyle we know. But your snowboarding, what snowboarding becomes for you, depends on your attitude and what you put in. Even with that Ultrafear you’ve gotta hike to learn pretzels. Ask if you’ve earned it. Be ready to work.

Mental wellness is just wellness. If a cold lingers you go to the doctor– when your head needs shrunk reach out. Friends listen, family listens, and those conversations don’t have to wait for five more beers. Need anonymity? Chances are your community offers fast response to whatever’s bogging you down. Look up local options, find what works for you, and if things are really bad 9-1-1 will connect you with help right away. We’re all in this together– be well homies.