Legends of Shred: Punk Outlaw Shawn Farmer

Shawn Farmer was a pioneer of big-mountain riding and one of the most rock 'n' roll riders ever.
Farmer hams it up for the camera.
Shawn Farmer - 1991 © Bud Fawcett
By Matt Barr

It is unlikely that snowboarding will be graced (if ‘graced’ is the right word) by a rider like Shawn Farmer ever again.

A shame because, as recent events have predictably shown, we need his anti-establishment type now more than ever in modern snowboarding.

After all, can you imagine Shaun White, say, coming out with something like:

The corporation has infiltrated and tainted every part of American life

... as Farmer did in a recent interview?

Shawn Farmer Rocket Air off a Tahoe cliff
Shawn Farmer, Rocket Air - 1989 © Bud Fawcett

The Farm was equally pioneering when it came to big-mountain riding.

His approach to freeriding was a mixture of balls-out power and incongruous finesse, like a wrecking ball dressed up in a tutu.

He straight up attacked the mountain, straightlining chutes, dropping cliffs and owning the fall-line in a way that modern legends such as Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice would recognize.

Off the hill, he was a lunatic dirtbag at a time when snowboarding was crying out for some character, as comfortable spouting insane raps to camera while wearing a leather waistcoat (see Farmer’s legendary rap in Critical Condition) as he was backflipping 40 footers.

Shawn Farmer vs Shaun Palmer - 1989
Shawn Farmer vs Shaun Palmer - 1989 © Bud Fawcett

The attitude he brought to snowboarding made him the flagbearer for any rider preferring to ride the natural mountain’s 'cliffs, chutes, gullies, bumps and trees' rather than 'burn a bunch of diesel by making ramps and parks' in resorts. "That’s what drove me then, and that’s what drives me today,” he says.

Building kickers in the backcountry is bullshit, it's cool for showing off your skills, but it sure is a lot of work.

Today, Farmer is still shredding, notching up 100 days a year in Squaw, Sugar Bowl and North Star, playing in his band, Hunks of Metal, and skating and kite surfing in the summer.

Shawn Farmer Cliff Drop - 1994
Shawn Farmer and a big cliff drop - 1994 © Bud Fawcett

Perhaps more importantly, he is still growing old disgracefully and still refusing to toe the party line without any regrets. As he puts it, “I could have made different choices, but that’s not who I am."

I had a good time. I still do.

Amen to that, brother.

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