LAST LIFTS

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It was chilly and drizzling heavily. I was wearing the most ridiculous looking boots, at least one size too big, along with ‘waterproof’ trousers and jacket. I don’t remember being kept very dry by them. My gloves were way too big and the board I was riding seemed to be more of hindrance than a help. I’m sat on my arse getting spiked through the hired waterproofs, my thumb killing me and pointing at a slightly different angle than I was used to.

This was snowboarding for me, and I was hating it!

The realization that I have been snowboarding for the best part of 20 years dawned on me recently and I am embracing getting older and loving snowboarding more than ever. Dendex has a special place in my heart and without it and the emergence of the snowdome’s the past two decades would have been very different.

I was lucky enough to first step on a snowboard in 1996, largely thanks to the “Odd Man Out” snowboard film and channel 4’s “Board stupid”, points of reference for some of my contemporaries there! My first experience was not how I had imagined it. It was a lot wetter than I had expected and the idea that I would be killing it after a couple of lessons was not a reality for me. But I stuck with it.

Since that first day on Stoke dry slope I have developed into a decidedly average rider. I have never had the balls out attitude to tackle the big obstacles and my own sense of self-preservation has held me back from the steepest lines. Not that any of that matters. For me, where snowboarding is concerned, it is the taking part that counts.

I am fortunate enough to have spent at least a week every year in the mountains since I first rode on dendex in 1996. I am sat here at work writing this, about to travel to Chamonix for a weeks riding, and I have never been more stoked on snowboarding. I’m checking the snow report and webcams every 15 minutes incase somehow a miraculous 6 feet of fresh has fallen between now and the last time I checked. My holiday companions are getting fed up with my constant messages and posts with photos of this piste and that webcam.

Snowboarding has allowed me to travel to places that many people could only dream of and my parents would never have imagined. I have met many wonderful and interesting people who I would never have known existed. I have lived life in a wholly different way than I could have imagined as a young teenager thanks to snowboarding.
To hear my 3 year old get excited about travelling to France next week to go snowboarding is the icing on a snowy cake that I have been baking for the best part of 20 years!

In many ways I am so far removed from current snowboarding and how things are now. As much as my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of updates and movies, I don’t know the names of the latest tricks, or the up and coming riders and who is going to win what at the Olympics.

It’s not that I don’t care or am any less passionate, it’s just that as I get older life gets busier and the amount of time that I have to spend snowboarding or reading about snowboarding is less and less.

And when the time comes around for a week or two a year all I really want to do is get to where I am going to, put my kit on and get up the hill. Do some laps, pretend that I am going to learn a new trick, fail to learn it, come back down the hill with my wife, daughter and holiday companions and have a pint.

It’s a simple ideal, one which I work hard for 52 weeks a year to achieve, but if you snowboard, and if you’re reading this then that’s a distinct possibility, you’ll get where I’m coming from.

I’m so stoked on snowboarding because above all else it’s a load of fun in the most beautiful scenery imaginable.

And on that note, I best check the snow forecast, it must have changed since I stated writing this!

Published 2013. Whitelines Magazine. Iss. 114

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