Today I woke up and as I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, jumped up and looked out the window to see if it was snowing. My morning glance was rewarded today with the first flakes of the season and I couldn’t help but have a giant grin on my face as I drove to work, thinking about the good times of the upcoming snowboarding season.
This will be my fourth winter of snowboarding and I absolutely cannot wait to get started. My enthusiasm for winter is well-known to my friends, many of whom either curse my name when it snows or share my joy. Either way, my love of snowboarding is no secret and a few people have asked me what it was about it that had me so obsessed. The question had been sticking in my mind because I’ve really never thought to put it all together, so I decided to take a few minutes to get it out of my head. There are 4 main reasons:
- The Physical
- The People
- The Peacefulness
- The Fact That Winter Sucks Without It
Part of it is the physical aspect. I had never been very active in my childhood and other than some martial arts and a few attempts at sports, I really never stuck with any physical activity. My uncles took me skiing when I was a teenager, but I did so badly that I ended up not doing any kind of winter sport for almost fifteen years after that. Four years ago I decided that I wanted to make some changes in my life and my little brother was always talking about snowboarding, so I decided to give it a try. My first day out was a disaster – with no exaggeration, I probably fell at least a hundred times. I was cold and sore and so out of shape that I managed to sweat in the middle of a blizzard, but I also fell in love with it. It took me another three days of riding the tiniest bunny hill in existence before I had the guts to try the big hill at Glen Eden (a whopping 250 feet high).
I ended up going out twenty times that first season and another sixty times over the second and third seasons. In that time I went from being terrified of the thought of riding down a 250 foot run, to downright giddy at the prospect of tearing down a 5000 footer. Every time I’ve been out I’ve worked on some aspect of my riding that needs improving and every time I get better. I still fall all the time because I’m still always trying to do new things. There’s always some new trick to try, a new run to go down or a new resort to explore. I’ve snowboarded at over a dozen resorts and traveled to the states and to two other provinces with plans to see more. There’s so much to try and so much to explore and so many possibilities.
Another part is the people – I’ve been fortunate enough to find many other people that share my obsession. I’ve ridden on days with terrible conditions, but being there with good friends that were stoked just to be on a board made them awesome days. Together we’ve shared hundreds of hours of conversation while driving all over the place to chase the snow. We’ve been lost, we’ve almost been stranded and we’ve driven on days that no sane person would venture out on. So many fun memories and adventures and so many more to come.
There’s something about it that forms a bond between people when they both discover they love to ride – more so than I’ve personally found with any other of my hobbies and interests. Riding has brought me closer to a lot of people and given me many new friendships that I am thankful for.
Probably the biggest thing for me though is the feeling it gives me. When I’m on a snowboard, all of the stress and worries of life disappear. There’s no work deadlines, no bills, no negativity. It demands that you are there and completely living in that moment and I love that. All of those things will still be there for me to deal with when I get back, but it’s good for me to be able to completely zone out of that mindset into a better one.
I was talking to a friend about this and she thought it was weird, but there are also moments on a board when I feel totally at peace. When I was in Whistler this last winter we had a powder day and I did some solo riding through the trees. In those moments, in the crisp air, in the middle of nature, with hardly anyone else around while weaving through the trees, there was nothing else but that moment and it was the most amazing time I had ever had riding. It was my version of a zen moment and I will always remember that day.
Finally… winter sucks. It’s cold and dreary out and for the four months of the year that the snow was out, I used to be absolutely miserable. I’d stay inside, watch TV, get depressed and mope around. Now that’s changed and instead of winter being a crappy time of year, it’s the complete opposite. So now that I ride, the whole year is awesome, instead of only two thirds of it!
All of these reasons are why I love snowboarding so much. It has made me a better and happier person and has influenced almost every aspect of my life. I’ll ride until the day I die and I’ll never stop exploring and improving because of it.