Spanish snowboarding icon Iker Fernandez through the lens of his fellow countryman Andoni Epelde.
Photography is the most accessible and intelligible language of snowboarding, understood not only by those who ride but also those who wish they did. It’s not only a catalyst for progression but also a record of how snowboarding has progressed: It can teach and inspire, as well as set benchmarks to which all can aspire, both in photography and riding.
Spain’s snowboard scene is a quiet affair, with little known about it beyond the countries borders. Riders to have found fame on an international level can be counted on one hand. They include the likes of Queralt Castellet, an outside favourite in the last Olympic pipe event in Vancouver, until she knocked herself clean out.
Perhaps the best know Spanish rider of all time though, the daddy thumb on that counting hand if you like, is Burton rider Iker Fernandez, here seen chucking roosters in the Pyrenean resort of Formigal.
In the 90s Iker was at the forefront of freestyle snowboarding, competing as well as filming for the likes of Absinthe Films with a faultless style and tricks that were boned to the point of popping base plates.
Now 37, he still rides as hard, says photographer Andoni Epelde and has lost none of the style and enthusiasm that won him his place on Burton’s international team. He even has his doubles on lock, to keep up with the kids.
According to Andoni, the creator of this week's Photo of the Week, Iker is still one of his favourite riders to shoot with. He knows that after a day on the hill they come home with a ton of printable shots.
So why is it that more contemporary riders don’t get the recognition that Iker has had outside of Spain? Andoni maintains that the economic woes of his country have hit snowboarding hard and that snowboarding, as expensive as it is, plays third fiddle to the more affordable and accessible board sports of skating and surfing.
There are also very few riders getting financial support from their sponsors in Spain, with the exception of the DC team says Andoni, so there is little chance for them to travel or compete in the international arena.
At home independent shops have also been decimated by the internet and falling sales and without these incubators of talent and guardians of the heart and soul of the sport snowboarding and its popularity is dwindling.
There’s only one upside to this downturn, according to Andoni, and that’s that with reduced competition on the hill there’s always plenty of untracked to be had in Spain when it dumps.
Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark II N
Focal length: 70mm
Film speed: 100
Shutter speed: 1/1000th
F Stop: f4.5