038: Jeremy Sladen/The Sideways Gospel

Jeremy at Baldface Lodge

“The driving force is that one day that changed my life. I just wanted everyone else to experience the same thing”.

For me, there is much more to the action sports world then the globe-straddling superstars we all know about. For every top pro or household name, there’s a lesser-known industry hero who’s passion and drive has contributed just as much to the culture we all love. Today’s episode with UK snowboarding pioneer Jeremy Sladen is about celebrating this integral part of the industry story.

Absolute scenes in this photo for a feature in Skateboard! Magazine back in 1989. L to R: Jeremy, Mark Webster, Steve Kane (Editor of Skateboard Mag), Fatima Kane, Rob Cooksley, Dave Furneau, Ed Tinkler, Vernon ‘Mutie’

Jeremy was part of that first wave of early adopters who did so much to launch snowboarding in the UK and Europe back in the 80s. Driven by nothing more than a passion for the sport, Jeremy and his peers set up the brands, magazines, shops and associations that laid the foundation for much of the modern UK snowboarding industry.

Today, as head of The Snowboard Asylum, he is one of the most respected presences in the European snowboarding industry, famed for his massive personality, sense of humour and love of snowboarding.

Classic Baldface cover-up

In March 2018 I headed up to Aviemore in Scotland to sit down with Jeremy and cast an eye over his incredible, colourful career. As you might expect, we covered the whole story: how he got into snowboarding, how the UK scene developed, how he makes the decisions that characterise his role as one of the biggest retail influences in the UK, his thoughts on the future of snowboarding and much more.

We also, as I’d hoped we might, addressed what for me has always been the key question: why? What has driven this character to dedicate 30 years to the passionate stewardship of the sport he loves? Was there one single spark?

Getting ready for a big one at the Sun Challenge in Aviemore, winter 89/90.  L to R: Sue, Jeremy (sitting down), Alan Innes, Tudor Thomas, Rusty Russell, Al Fleming, Mark Webster, Gus Gillard, Jonathan Weeks

I’m happy to say that during our intensely enjoyably chinwag we got right into these details, and I came away with the answer I was looking for. Hopefully this episode helps to celebrate one of those unsung individuals who’ve had a huge impact on the European snowboard industry scene.

Big thanks to Jeremy for coming onto the show. One of my favourite conversations this one, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

If you only have five minutes…

Listen to this section - Jeremy on how the industry has been telling the wrong story about snowboarding.

Show Notes

  • A trip to Aviemore.
  • Acid Snow – first UK board brand.
  • How Jeremy got into snowboarding.
  • Early film influences: Apocalypse Snow and This Is Snowboarding.
  • Early snowboard prototype.
  • The price of those early snowboards.
  • A seminal La Mongie powder day.
  • First job in the industry – Sims distributor.
  • Meeting Eddie Spearing and Dave Furneaux.
  • The early dryslope years
  • Seeing Steve Bailey ride for the first time.
  • Snowboarding sabbatical.
  • Jeremy’s sense of purpose.
  • Snowboarding – the lost years.
  • Coming full circle.
  • The importance of attainability.
  • How the industry works.
  • The importance of the Palmer years to snowboarding.
  • The legendary Tahoe City Dump sessions.
  • Looking after the legends.
  • How The Snowboard Asylum came about.
  • The responsibility of sponsorship.
  • The snowboarding boom years.
  • Snowboarding and the Olympics.
  • Ed Leigh’s commentary on Jenny Jones.
  • The slow burn influence of snowboarding over other sports.
  • How snowboarding wasn’t ready for the Olympics.
  • Steering the story of snowboarding
  • Jeremy’s support for CALM and Nelson’s Tour de Test Valley.
  • Near-death experience.
  • How this experience affected Jez’s outlook.
  • It comes down to one good day.

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