Life is a wild ride, and so is snowboarding. Every day riding a snowboard, much like every human experience, is unique. From that initial journey through the birth canal to the drive to the hill, the similarities abound. Time, effort, and planning (often on the part of your parents) are required just for you to show up – in the world or on the mountain. There may be distractions and hiccups along the way, but where you land and who you’re with have already set you up for the future.
Some days you get up and life loads you with crap. Kind of like when you get to the parking lot and it’s full. The person or sign in charge directs you to the remote lot, or suggests you pay for a premium spot. Gross, right? But other times you show up and pull right into your dream spot. Don’t you just love it when days start like this?
Once it’s finally time for that first lift ride of the day, the real adventure begins. Is there a long line? Hope not, but if so, it’s extra time to mentally prepare, do some stretches and ensure your gear is properly secured. And maybe you’ll run into a friend in the crowd, even if you came with a crew of your own. If you’re alone, you may snag your own chair, or better yet, hit the singles line and make a new, albeit temporary, friend. Then again, it’s not unheard of to meet someone on that first lift ride and ride with them all day… kinda like that best friend you met on the first day of kindergarten.
When you finally get to the top of the mountain, it’s sort of like high school graduation — the possibilities are endless. You only need to decide on a trail. It’s the boarding equivalent of picking your major in college… will it lead to success or frustration? Luckily, this time you’ll find out in a lot less than 4 years!
Even if your quiver isn’t flush before you graduate from your parents’ budget, you’ll get by. Over time, you’ll also learn to adapt. As we go through life, things tend to get easier. It’s the same with snowboarding. Packing your gear, as an example, will always be a process, but one refined with experience. You’ll learn what you need and what you don’t, acquiring extra goggles and more boards each season. Will you ever be satisfied? Probably not! And that’s ok. In life and in snowboarding, that drive for more is what pushes us to go on.
And you just don’t know what might happen. Sometimes you select a great trail, stand at the top and pat yourself on the back. In front of you is pristine snow, a jump you love to hit, and a wind lip that’s been carved perfectly by those who came before you. But other times you find the wide-open-groomed trail next to a windblown-powder-wall perfection that was there yesterday has been converted, by rain and temperature fluctuations, to a narrow path littered with ice boulders.
There are lots of times while snowboarding, and in life, when everything is going great. You’re having the best run ever — slashed a little powder puff, logged some air time off a roller and set up with just the right amount of speed to launch off that side hit. Then, out of nowhere, you catch an edge. Your perfect moment is destroyed by this sudden surprise, a hitch that you didn’t anticipate.
It’s an important lesson to remember that in snowboarding and in life, anyone can catch an edge. Whether you’re a pro or just learning, these falls can (and will) come out of nowhere.
Not every day or run is going to be perfect, but every time you get on the chairlift again is another chance. You load each time with optimism, knowing that while it may be cold, windy, and make your stomach flutter as you cross that deep river gully, soon you’ll be at the top of the mountain once again.
And if the trail you took last run, or decision you made yesterday, was disappointing, you don’t have to take it again. You can choose a different route. And maybe this time it will be better than you expected.
Remember, tomorrow is not a guarantee and neither is another run. Lifts close, storms roll in, and shit happens. But if you’re spending a day snowboarding there’s one important take away: no matter how bad the conditions, at least you’re riding now.