USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘snowboarding’
Folk speech
Proverbs

No Friends on a Powder Day

Information on the Informant: Troy Dixon, the informant of this particular saying, is a 20 year old student who attends Lafayette college in Pennsylvania. He plays college football there and is a linebacker. Troy grew up in Santa Monica, California and attended high school in Los Angeles. Ever since he was born, Troy was an avid skier. He went up with his family to their house in Mammoth every week that was possible during the winter. Because he skied so often he became extremely skilled and became a member of the Mammoth mountain ski team. This only lasted for a few years, however, because it was such a large time commitment. However, Troy has remained an expert skier who frequently travels around California skiing the tallest and fastest mountain. This particular proverb was something he introduced to me numerous times since I met him in 2012 and something he frequently told me while we were on the mountain together.

Me: “What exactly is the proverb that you always say when you’re on the mountain and there is fresh snow?”

Informant: “The saying goes, ‘There are no such thing as friends on a powder day’.”

Me: “So what exactly does this saying mean?”

Informant: “Okay so what this means is that when there is new snow on the mountain, or ‘powder,’ as a lot of skiers and snowboarders call it, you have no friends, aka skiing the fresh snow takes priority over skiing or conversing with your friends. It pretty much means that nothing, especially not your friends, can distract you from being able to ski the amazing snow.”

Me: “Where was the first time you heard this saying?”

Informant:”My dad told me about it when I was 6 years old and when I went to the top of the mountain for the first time and skied in powder. My dad has skied for 30 years and is an expert skier so he learned it from some of his friends who he went to the mountain with over the years.”

Analysis: This saying is a traditional skiers proverb. It appears that it is one of those sayings that most people know but aren’t exactly sure of the direct origin. The informant, Troy, also stated that his father has skied all over the world and heard the saying before in other states besides California.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general

“Send it!”

“Okay, so in the snowboarding world, when, um, you’re about to, like—‘cause I was a competitive snowboarder, you know, and so we would hit, like, really big jumps or something and then, or like if the pipe was like really big that day, um, so usually it’s used with jumps that are like over like 25 feet, so no like it doesn’t have to be big [laughs of disbelief from other people in room], but usually they’ll be like 90 feet when people use this saying and it’s not like, it’s like a, um, we would be like, ‘Oh, like fucking send it!’ That means like ‘huck yourself,’ like ‘do like what you got’ or yeah, like spin whatever, do flips and so it’s like just like ‘give it your all’ type of deal and so yeah we would just use ‘sending it.’ ‘Cause then it’s like ain’t nothing comin’ back, ‘cause you’re sending it and you’re giving it your all and you’re gonna kill it.”

 

The informant was a 21-year-old USC student who grew up in competitive snowboarding and has dabbled in CrossFit and other workout programs. She has been in a prominent sorority on campus since coming to USC and goes out every night of the weekend, as well as some nights of the week. I live with the informant and the interview took place in my room during one of the lengthy conversations we often have. The informant has been known to use aspects of her athletic and workout life in social interactions and “Send it!” is no different. She went on to tell me that “So now I’ve started to integrate that into the Greek life culture and so if someone’s in a drinking game I’m like, ‘Dude, fucking send this game!’ and they’re like, ‘I’m gonna send it.’ (Interviewer says: “It’s not coming back!”) And then they drink a lot. Yeah, it’s not coming back. So then they just like drink a lot.”

 

This piece of folk speech was interesting to me because of the meaning behind something like “Send it!” The other people in the room and I got hooked on the idea that you would say it because “it wasn’t coming back.” In addition to this being about “giving it your all,” it seems like it’s about taking opportunities when you have them. It would make sense, then, that the informant would translate this phrase into other areas of her life, like the Greek life culture. It is easier to do wild things at a party when you have someone telling you it is the moment to do them. It is also interesting that it is primarily a way of encouraging someone else to do something. While it could come across as pretty aggressive to the uninitiated, those inside of snowboarding culture would know that it is a way of supporting one another and pushing each other to get better and try new things.

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