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20 years already!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
He was the icon of a generation, snowboarders and skiers alike. The kid from Chamonix who reinvented the rule book. AlpineMag have published a tribute to Marco Siffredi on the 20th anniversary of his descent of the Norton Couloir of Everest, the first descent by snowboard and arguably a better line than Davo Karničar's ski descent in 2000. Siffredi would vanish a year later skiing the Hornbein - "The perfect line".

For many, he was an icon with a blond or green mop depending on the mood, an icy mint look and a smile whose scratched incisor reveals the temperament. “In powder we are all heros but there are none when it is steep and icy, no one dares make a turn ”. Balanced with a smirk, this punchline from Bertrand Delapierre's film, Marco Etoile Filante (Seven Doc, 2011), will complete the inscription of Marco Siffredi in the history of snowboarding and steep slopes in general.

20 years ago, on May 24, 2001, Marco Siffredi set off from the 8,848m summit of Everest and descended the Norton Couloir on a snowboard. He then skied the steepest slope of the highest summit in the world, 200m at 50 degrees but perched on the roof of the world, with changing snow which, more than elsewhere, allows no error.

More than a big name in a pantheon, Marco has become a symbol. There is his list of steep slopes, Nant Blanc à la Verte in the lead. But beyond the achievements, he was a free, elusive, rebellious and a free electron. He was the embodiment of the mountain's most exhilarating values. In a way, he gave snowboarding its “alpine” credentials by taking his board where only mountaineers and a few rare skiers dared to venture. And on the other hand, he brought a dose of freshness and fun to this austere high mountain, difficult to make accessible or understandable to the general public and to the youngest in particular.

Twenty years to the day after his historic descent to Everest, the spirit of Siffredi continues to inspire all those who remain animated, as they choose, by the ardor of youth or the casualness allowed by age.

But twenty years changes you, man or woman. Many of the old timers have cut or lost their hair. Some of the anarchists have turned right, some left, others have stopped altogether. Some have joined Marco somewhere in the heavans.

I wonder how Marco Siffredi would have been at 40? I dare to believe that he would always have colored hair, with his gapped teeth, and that he would continue to gently mock freeriders, to tell sponsors to clera off and to choose ever more incredible slopes. Andrzej Bargiel would certainly have had his K2 descent stolen before he could even think about it. Pierre Tardivel would have swapped skis for snowboard much earlier, with a teacher of choice. And the Hornbein would be an old story ...

This is absurd, I grant you that. Marco will still be 20. Twenty-two years precisely, which he filled with the ardor and eagerness of one who understood that nothing lasts: “To live, you have to risk. Already we are nothing, we do not control anything, especially if we let time slip through our fingers”. You are never too old to be 20.
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