Monday, January 08, 2007

Why do I snowboard?

Adventure reporter Eric Godfrey reflects on what got him started snowboarding and what keeps him coming back.

It’s winter here in Utah, the mountains are white and the snowboarding season is really getting rolling. Although the season has had a slow start and it seems like a lot of those huge pounding storms we get so spoiled with here have missed us, the season has still been a fun one so far as long as you can avoid those rocks and branches buried just under the snow. I know you are used to getting canyoneering videos from me every month, but this time I decided to mix things up a little and share my other passion; snowboarding. A fresh new video is in the works that should be much better than this one, but to hold you over I’ve included a short video put together by my good friend Randy Mangum. It’s old and includes some ugly riding, but hopefully entertains you a little. Our group of snowboarders have improved our skills (we are no pro’s by any means still) and I’m trying to get some good footage for a quality video hopefully next month, but no guarantees as to how long it will take.

The readers of this blog I know are very diverse but share a love of the outdoors. Everyones passion probably lies in different activites etc… and I wanted to attempt to share with you all why I love snowboarding (maybe one of these months I’ll share why I love canyons so much too). For some it’s the deep powder lines, for others it’s fields of moguls, for me it’s about accomplishment and progression. I started skiing later than many, it was just after high school when I bought my first ski’s and tried tearing down the hill (I was also one of the dorky guys sporting those short skis). After my first powder day I was hooked and could never turn back. Slowly all my friends started converting to snowboarding and I was the last to switch (leaving my skills behind too). If the snow was good we would drop cliffs, build jumps, and find natural features to “jib” (pretty much bonking your board against or sliding along something that isn’t snow covered like a tree trunk, log, rail, box, car, etc…)

After a few years ski resorts started building terrain parks full of rails, jumps, and all kinds of good stuff for us to play around in and believe it or not, the parks were actually best ridden on days in between storms. So now we basically ride powder when it storms and ride the parks in between.

Whats the big deal with sliding rails and hucking yourself off jumps? I get a lot of people telling me they can see the thrill in jumps, but what about rails/boxes? Well the first thing I always hear is how dangerous they can be (I’m sure everyone who loves the outdoors gets the “it’s too dangerous” lecture), or that the risk of hurting yourself isn’t worth trying them. The truth is they really aren’t as dangerous as you might think (after all those wrecks in that video, you probably are disagreeing, but just trust me here) and can be a whole lot of fun as you get better and better at them. The key is making sure you can ride in control enough to approach the rail with the right amount of speed (faster is better, but of course you don’t want to go too fast). If you hit the rail at a tortoise pace, you will immediately stop once you try to slide it and fall. Best to start with short rails and go fast enough that if you wreck you fall PAST the rail, not on top of it (that’s just my personal preference). Rails/boxes provide an added dimension to what you can do while on the slopes. If I was confined to just riding down groomers all day, snowboarding would quickly become uninteresting and I’d quit doing it. There are so many variations to how you slide down the rail, what you do before you jump on and jump off. You can spin onto it, jump onto it, ride onto it, slide it forward, backward, sideways. You can spin while on it, spin while jumping off, do multiple tricks while on etc… the possibilities are endless and it takes enough work and effort to get good at these you can work on it for years and always feel like you are progressing, thus keeping things interesting.

Jumps are similar, there are countless ways you can progress with doing new and exciting tricks and catching more and more air. Again if you start small and build your way up, you can keep things as safe as possible. Of course the bigger the jumps get, the worse the consequences if you do screw up. When you can get comfortable flying through the air, there is nothing like it. It’s no substitute for dropping a cliff on a big powder day, but is about the most fun thing I can think of on a sunny day between storms!

Snowboarding gives me a chance to relax and enjoy the outdoors, it especially allows me to enjoy winter. It’s something I can always improve at and even if I never get as good as those guys I see on the fancy snowboarding videos it’s always a blast landing that new trick I’ve been working on for a while or finally getting my turns dialed in to where I feel comfortable going down something steeper and faster. It’s being with friends and building off what they are doing, getting stoked that they landed a new trick giving me the motivation to push myself further. I’m lucky to get to do the things I love so often (sometimes when schools in I wonder if I really get to do them often enough) and I hope to be doing this stuff when I’m old and gray (I might lay off the jumps and rails when I’m old, but who knows). Hope you all are having as good a winter as I am, and I’ll see you on the slopes!

P.S. I'm a little behind on posts so look for a winter canyoneering write up coming this month too!



Blogger testmonkey said...

fun: yes. painful: you bettcha. I must be doing something wrong.

1/11/2007 11:36 AM


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