Pre-modern snowboarding, the mid 1990s to be inexact, Mike Ranquet was a self-proclaimed “anti-Olympic guy.” Meanwhile, Ted Martin was a competitive skier who’d moved to Vail and inadvertently became the literal “man” who’d help usher snowboarding into the Olympics. Ted would switch from two planks to one, co-found the ISF (International Snowboard Federation), and later jump ship to work for the FIS (Federation International de Ski). He also once kicked Ranquet out of Japan, but we’ll get to “the incident” at the end of this post…
20 years later, older, and possibly wiser, the two once sworn enemies found themselves hanging out in Hawaii over beers and talking. The stories they shared had evolved, and as time often does, old battles are now the stuff of humor.
As we watch these 2018 Olympic events unfold in PyeongChang, South Korea, we can expect much of the same shit that went down 20 years ago. Some people will display Olympic outrage over unsafe courses and judging scandals, many will swell with national pride and watch as kids’ dreams come true, and the third sect of the snowboard population will enevitably say, “What’s an Olympics?”
But whether you love it for the glory or the agony, the Olympics are definitely still happening, and snowboarding is now a staple in the Winter Games. In this three-part series we attempt to answer the eternal question: how the hell did we get here? — Brooke Geery
If you’d like to listen to the entire interview in one long sitting, here’s the uncut audio version:
Or if you prefer pictures and well-timed breaks with your informative historical content, scroll down for the video courtesy of Mike’s neighbor Matt Williams. Filmed for fun, and provided to you at no cost for your viewing pleasure!
And why the hell would a skier wanna organize snowboard events, anyway?
The true story of how Ted switched sides
Snowboarding vs the World
An official statement from Michael Ranquet describing “The Incident” discussed throughout the interview.
The incident is in reference to a mishap involving Chris Roach, Ted Martin and myself while at Rusutsu resort on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in 1990.
On the last morning several obviously angry Japanese men in finely tailored suits were in our room. To my surprise, Ted Martin was also in our room! What an honor! Being unable to recall coming home the previous night made my stomach shrivel. My initial thought was, “Oh no, no, Gold please help me, what have I done now!?”
I hadn’t done anything wrong, but from what I could gather, the hotel had double-booked our room and we had to vacate, pronto!
I felt sorry for whoever eventually incurred the wrath of Ted and his very angry, well-dressed, Japanese friends. Lucky for us, Ted quickly came to our defense and they agreed to book us another room, But here’s the kicker — not only was our hotel booked, but they said every hotel in Japan was booked!
They were such gracious hosts, which made it impossible for us to say no to their gesture of booking a room in the next closest city… San Francisco! So in the face of their unwavering insistence that we fly to San Francisco, we witnessed the great Japanese tradition of never giving up despite impending and imminent defeat.
When we left the hotel it seemed like the entire hotel staff (some in tears) and even the police came to bid us farewell. The hospitality of this once fierce island nation extended to the airport as the police let us follow them (in case we got lost) and even walked us on the airplane! I wanted to convey to my hosts a big artigato, but I don’t speak Chinese. They really wanted us to make the flight and in that sense, it was like a tickertape parade in reverse (ie switch/fakie).