Newsweek recently released an exhaustive ranking of the best countries in the world, based on key factors such as education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism, and political environment. They even made a fancy interactive flash infographic thing so you could see how authoritative it was, and have no grounds to argue. But perhaps the most newsworthy part of this feature was that the good ol’ USA ranked a sorry number 11, thanks in large part to our pathetic health and education systems. We felt as good Americans it was our patriotic duty to bring some esteem back to the good old US of A. To do this, we’re presenting a similar, but far less researched and authoritative feature on snowboarding’s best countries, where clearly, we rule.
The following totally arbitrary rankings are loosely based on the number of relevant ski resorts, the number (and quality of) of pros it has produced, how good the snow fall/terrain is, and a small focus on the amount of Olympic ass kicking the country has done in snowboarding. However, most statistics we’re completely pulled out of our asses.
1. United States
How could you even argue with USA being number one? Sure, the Midwest and East Coast kind of suck, and the South doesn’t even have snow, but the sheer number of snowboard epicenters contained in states such as Utah, California and Colorado surely make up for that. The number of super pros from here is too many to count, and it’s also the home to a ton of brands (but we have the good sense to get the product made cheaply elsewhere!) As far as the Olympics go, ever heard of a guy named Shaun White? He clearly kicked all of your asses, even if he is kind of a douche. In short, we invented, popularized and continue to dominate snowboarding. The End.
Now we’ve never ridden in Norway, or even been there, but since the entire place is more or less covered in snow, Norwegians grow up riding the stuff. Sure, a lot of them ski or worse, cross country ski, but it’s managed to pump out some serious shredders. Basically, once you have one Terje, you’re on the map forever, and it doesn’t hurt that he hosts the ultra-epic Arctic Challenge there too.
Mostly due to its proximity to the US, Canada comes in high on our list. But seriously, take a trip to Whistler, or take a sled into interior BC, and enjoy some free health care and you’ll soon agree Canada is a good place to snowboard. It is also home to the original Shakedown, and even though French Canada is cold as fuck, it’s got some of the best urban riding and coolest resorts around. Not to mention there have been some incredible Cannuck shreds over the years, most recently Jed Anderson.
Japan is a great place for snowboarding for a few reasons, namely enthusiasm and pillow lines. The Japanese love snowboarding and anything to do with snowboarding, and whether you know it or not, they are pretty much keeping the sport afloat. Many outerwear and other brands would be out of business if not for Japanese support. Throw in a solid variety of resorts, chairlifts that talk to you, beer in vending machines, and some serious natural snow fall in some parts of the country, and you get in the top 5 for sure.
Not only do they speak English in Australia, but it’s quite a snowboard friendly place. It is home to Torah Bright, who is not only the best female pipe rider in the world, but has a postage stamp and there to prove it. BawBawdn’ has been stoking us out all summer, and even though we couldn’t tell you what the resorts or snow there are actually like, it seems pretty swell.
We’re getting down the list, so the rankings are getting tighter and tighter. Frankly, Switzerland scores above some of Europe’s other snowboard-friendly countries in our minds for a few reasons. First, the number of resorts in this tiny country (there are nearly 40 in a space the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined) means there’s a good chance there is one in your backyard. We also like that it’s a neutral country, so they probably hate Americans slightly less than the rest of Europe.
7. Finland. Finland topped out Newsweek’s list, but we put it at number seven because it seems like it’s probably cold and dark there, all up in the Arctic Circle. Also most Finnish pro snowboarders live in Southern California now, so we’ve decided to count their prowess towards the US’s ranking.
8. Chile. Rumor is the snow in Chile sucks right now, but it doesn’t change the fact that you can go snowboarding there, right now! South America Snow Sessions seems pretty sweet, so if we were going to go snowboarding in South America, we’d go here.
9. Austria/ France
Frankly, I couldn’t decide between these two countries as they share a mountain range, and both hate Americans (or maybe we just hate them, I am not sure.) Most of the pros from these places are into racing, or racing offshoots such as boardercross, which makes them equally lame, but who I am I kidding, it would be sick to go ride in the Alps.
10. New Zealand
New Zealand just got done hosting the Junior World Championships and the New Zealand Open, so obviously it’s on the map as far as snowboarding competition is concerned. The entire country is also apparently sponsored by Red Bull. Though often overshadowed by Australia for some reason, it’s a go-to for summer photo shoots and training, so it definitely makes the cut for our list.
And that, by our best estimates, is all you need to know about the global state of snowboarding. Agree, disagree, we don’t care, just as long as you realize how great America is, right!?