Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Snowboarders

The snowboard craze hit the slopes of Colorado in the early 80’s. Seasoned skiers did not welcome the newcomers; many resorts actually banned snowboarding. And with good reason. Boarders treated the slopes like their own personal playground. The rule that uphill skiers watch out for those downhill was thrown out the window by those upstarts on one giant ski. They were skateboarders who wanted to skate even in the winter. Those early boarders were arrogant show-offs, flaunting their newfound “sport” in the face of seasoned skiers.

I was learning to ski at that time. And I, as a skier, thought those ruffian skateboarders were just a bunch of trouble. They cut too close and swished around the slopes like they owned the place. I felt they did not have the proper appreciation for the beauty of actual skiing. Which they didn’t – otherwise, they’d be skiing. I referred to them as punks and hooligans.

I held that view for years. Years and years and years. And many of those years I didn’t have the chance to ski, so I didn’t witness the evolution of snowboarders. My only experience was with the upstarts, so my ideas of snowboarders didn’t change. And then I met some real-life snowboarders. And I was dismayed. One of my daughter’s youth group leaders is a snowboarder! I didn’t believe it at first because he's always struck me as the kind of person who's, well, kind. But then I went skiing with Barry and witnessed his board ability. But more than that, I witnessed his kindness to my daughter on the slopes, encouraging her as a new skier and including her with those more seasoned on the snow. His personality on and off the slope matched.

And then there are these two:

Oh, they look the part of punks and hooligans on the slopes with those boards strapped to their feet. But behind those loopy smiles are hearts of gold. I went skiing with them last week and saw their courteous attitudes and kindness to novice skiers around them. And aside from not cooperating at all when I wanted to take their picture, they would move mountains for me if I asked.

So now, when I say I will never snowboard it is more about my lack of flexibility than dearth of respect for the sport. The boarders I know have been excellent ambassadors of the sport, so much so that they have changed my perception of those crazy people going down the hill on ski.

I am now a skier who counts boarders among her friends.

But don’t expect me to stop calling boarders punks and hooligans. It’s just now I'll be saying that as terms of endearment. 
Thanks for the pictures, Landon and Grant!