Snowboarding

There is nothing remotely like standing atop a snowboard and steering down a snow-covered mountainside at a high rate of speed. The word exhilaration probably comes closest, but even given that, it fails to convey anything like the experience itself. Let me try.

Getting off the Stratton gondola at the summit of the mountain, I walk the forty or so yards out onto the snow-covered surface carrying my board. A weak sun lights the scene and the cold bites on my exposed face. I find a spot and drop my board to the snow. All around me skiers and boarders are getting themselves ready for their descent. First my right boot, the front foot is locked into the binding, the runaway strap attached to my bootlace. Then the back foot is snapped in and the board jumped around or pivoted into the fall line and I am moving. A short run, maybe thirty or forty feet in a straight line and then a reflexed right turn and I am running.

Crouched and swinging the board beneath me from edge to edge, I am in charge, picking the spots on the downside faces of the surfaces rushing toward me. My speed picks up and I begin making more pronounced turns, moving across the fall line and engaging my edges to brake my acceleration.

A wide left turn onto the toe-edge of my board brings me across the top of a wide, chute-like drop off that ends alongside the great expanse of the West Meadows run. Letting go is like dropping off a high board with water ever so far below. Out I zoom onto the wide sweep of the run. Rated Green or Novice, the run is the right place to work on technique. It drops down most of the mountain’s front face in a series of interesting variations of rolling ridges, bumpy drop-offs and smooth faced declines. It’s a perfect place to stay as close as you can to the fall line and to let the board run. The optimum state of being in this particular world is to be going as fast as you can while still maintaining control of your course. I am flying, cutting narrow side-to-side swings of the board beneath me, just catching the edges of the board at the end of each swing. All of this is happening in real time, at high speed and over terrain that is changing by the second.

Up, over and into a straight gravity fueled drop-off where I cut and surf across the face of the slope. It is existential. It is orgasmic. There is nothing else in my life even close to this. I’ve parachuted. I had a motorcycle, and I’ve put in over a hundred hours riding a longboard skateboard down the hills of a shaded street near home. With snowboarding, I am flying. I am dancing. I am the dance. Of course, there’s always that voice in my head warning me to slow down, telling me that one false move, one instant’s loss of concentration could have catastrophic consequences. That awareness is of course, one of the things that gives an activity like snowboarding its allure. Better yet, I am having these experiences at the age of seventy. How much longer, oh Lord?

2 Responses to “Snowboarding”


  1. 1 glivorem March 14, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Snowboarding is amazing isnt it.
    One of the great things about it is the proximity to nature. When you are flying down the hill, its just you, your board and the mountain.


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