Are Airbags Ruining snowboarding? We speak to the pros to hear their views.

Some people think Airbags are a great, essential and a progressive development, whilst others are quite vocal about how the use of these bags are ruining snowboarding. Across the world, airbags have been popping up more and yet opinion seems equally divided. The gulf between the for and against seems massive but how can those views be so different?


Ludvig Billtof: “I don’t ride them myself but it’s a really good way to progress, there are Swedish kids that go to the Banger Park twice a season and they learnt so much. Personally I’d rather go actual snowboarding.”


  There is no way getting around it, Snowboarding like any other boardsport takes practise, a huge belief in your ability and more often than not, pain. It’s inevitable that you will get hurt and injured if you are ever to make it as a professional rider.  It was obvious that as soon as tricks got to a certain level, riders would look at ways they could practise with causing themselves as little pain as possible.      

Sebbe de Buck:” I don’t like them you have to earn to learn, if you need an airbag to learn a new trick you aren’t ready to learn that trick and also don’t be a little bitch. I’ve never ridden one in my life. 

In the times pre airbag and foam pit, the standard way to learn a trick was to build a kicker into powder and launch yourself off it. Whilst we weren’t seeing the types of tricks we see that were learnt on an airbag, powder kickers have been the stepping-stone for riders to learn new tricks, ever since the first pair of bindings were mounted on a board. Seeing someone transfer a trick they learnt into pow onto a park kicker brought with it a certain amount of respect. Fast forward to today and airbags have been a familiar site in resorts and even custom made slopes, built with the sole purpose of riders to learn tricks.  In the past a pro rider would head to Japan to film a powder section and now riders also go to japan to hit a Dryslope run with an Airbag. 


Jake Pates: “I have hit airbags, they’re definitely good for progression and trying to safely learn new tricks. I think a lot of people don’t like airbags because they have pushed the sport so quickly. I see the upside too though, it’s hard to keep up with the progression of the sport nowadays so airbags allow people to try tricks without just hucking it on snow not knowing how to do it. I’ve had my fair share of trying tricks with no airbag attempts to back me up. That’s 100% doing it the hard way, which is mad respectable but nowadays can be pretty dangerous. The airbags are keeping us safe, to an extent 🤷🏼‍♂️ ” Photo: Cole Pates  

Maximise in Quebec, essential progression tool or cheating?
With Snowboarding becoming part of the Olympics, riders would quickly try and gain an advantage by learning tricks into airbags. There is no question we wouldn’t see the types of tricks that riders are doing now without the use of airbags, they are way more accessible than hitting a pow kicker and you can get 100 hits in a day instead of a maximum 10-15 on a good backcountry booter.    

Sarka Pancochova: “It’s fun, I approach it in the same way as skateboarding, i don’t think of it as snowboarding, it’s just something else to do. I try lots of tricks with different grabs, it’s not like you have to go there and do triple corks. Some riders are negative about it because they are nervous that some young kid who learnt on an airbag will steal their spot as a pro but I feel like everyone is so good now it doesn’t make a difference if you ride an airbag or not, you have to have something different and creative to get further and make it”

On the flip side, since the introduction of airbags, we have had more pro riders on the competition circuit that don’t fit the typical mould of a professional snowboarder. Many of them don’t party or drink, wear gym clothes instead of skate clothes and grew up on a gymnastics background rather than skateboarding.  But as airbags create the ideal spot to learn new tricks, some riders that wouldn’t usually hit an airbag are now feeling forced to ride them too or be left behind the other more gymnastic loving counterparts.  

Max De Vries: “I think airbags are shitty, I’ve ridden them twice before the Olympics when I went with the national team. I fucked up all my clothes because the airbag is so dry, it burnt through my snowboard pants. It’s a bad thing for snowboarding because people that can’t do a seven on snow are suddenly doing triples on an airbag, it’s cheating.


Whatever your opinion on airbags is, they won’t be going away anytime soon and who knows how mad snowboard tricks will get because of them. We are already seeing that the airbag trained riders might be picking up contest medals but when you look at the most popular riders around, the majority have never hit an airbag before. We believe that these riders will always show snowboarding in a more fun and positive light and in a way that is more relatable to the common man and consequently it is those riders eventually have the longest and most successful careers.    


Carlos Garcia Knight: “I think they are bad because for one they costs lots of money for kids to ride, when they could spend that money on lift tickets or a new board- it’s an extra cost and two, when people are a kid you are so influenced by what you see around you and now kids want to go out and huck new corked tricks and not just go snowboarding with their friends and have fun. When I grew up snowboarding I was messing around and just cruising but for some riders that part has been lost.” Photo: Alek Oestreng 

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