The single most transformative thing that happened in my life happened in the seventh grade, and despite what you might think, it had nothing to do with a squeaking voice or a damn near uncontrollable testosterone boost. The teacher, with half enthusiasm, let spring-loaded orders float out the corners of her mouth, as they fell on deaf ears. Loading up the paddy wagon, to which it took us to the local hill, formerly known as Ski Gull (which recently tacked on the ironic Mount to its namesake) and take part in the event we knew as skiing.
Now what I remember most was not the nerves nor was it the fear of falling. But rather, it was the first time I saw a local rider (unaffiliated with our school) engage their boots within the single hunk of wood and fiberglass and rifle themselves, whether unknowingly or not, seamlessly up over the powdered waves and out of sight. I’d wander to the peripheries of the group to see it happen again, and again, and again. It wasn’t too long after that, that I hung at the hip of my mother like a calf, wailing for cash to buy a lift ticket. And so I went back again, and again, and again, as if dimensions of senile forgetfulness had struck. Christmas came around that next year and my daydreams had became tangible. The elongated, single piece of wood and fiberglass, had been choked in wrapping paper and now sat under the pine, towering over the other presents like the Colossus of Rhodes; and although it had yet to be unveiled, I had already imagined my feet in the cockpits.
Now what I hadn’t foreseen— an understatement— what I couldn’t possibly prepare myself for, was the amount of bruises, concussions, and breaks it would inflict on me, until it finally deemed me eligible to pilot it. To this day, nothing has been more difficult than becoming an experienced snowboarder. Was it worth it? Every second and more. Because what I hadn’t foreseen and what I could not possibly prepare myself for was the feeling that not many people experience: the ability to fly. That’s how it feels to be entirely in control and yet have no control of the chaos that riding a snowboard is.
With that bit of memory now recorded in permanence, I’d like to address the topic I was so eager, yet hesitant, to regurgitate on this page. I racked my brain on it all week, wondering how I could possibly solve the puzzle and how I would approach the state of skiers and snowboarders. I hope I don’t take myself over the coals here… When I first began as a skier (referring to the time after the trip and before ownership of a board) like so many do, I was unaware how engaging what I was doing could be. I knew I wanted that snowboard—damn did I know it. The English language can’t even contest with nor describe the feeling I had on a snowboard, and just like before, at my peripheries, this was also happening beneath two skis, and that is something incredible in itself. So upset with myself, I look back at the animosity I had for skiers as I progressed as a snowboarder. I didn’t understand the thrill of it, the style, or the people that I had categorized as liking the sport. It wasn’t only that, but the contempt I had for young people (of which I was one at some point or another) that aimlessly navigated the hill like a plague. Most of which, were skiers. But was that skiing’s fault? An ignorant individual would associate the two. An ignorant Individual would continue their bias toward the sport. The fact of the matter is, young people just tend to start out skiing… I don’t know why. That’s just the way it is. but the disconnect does not lie in the number of planks you ride, but rather the limited knowledge a young person has of the sports (see my article titled https://colabbrand.com/release-the-hounds/for more on this). But when I was asked to join the COLAB boys in bringing the two together, I couldn’t pass it up. And from what I’ve seen, there’s nothing but progress ahead.
In April of 2018, that same hill that I arrived at as a kid, awarded our persuasions to host the first ever private jam in an attempt to bring recognition to a much needed park environment, skill, and snowboarders and skiers together in a way I had not yet seen. For hours, the two groups compromised on the features that were going to be built. We joked about hypothetical setups and hydrated our knowledge of the sports while working aimlessly into the latest hours of the night. We shoveled now, raked lips, and hacked away at the almost impenetrable, bedrock-like, snow base. And when the day came to ride, I had completely forgotten that the two sports were separate. It was as if, for once, perfection had finally shook hands with the hill.
Ironically, I might not have minded if under that Christmas tree, so many years ago, two skis of wood and fiberglass had miraculously emerged. In the end, the protagonist of this story is not any single person, but rather the happiness that’s embedded in every skier and snowboarder that take on the burden of progressing the sport. And next time you’re faced with buying a pair of skis or snowboards flip a coin.
See also: “Private Jam at Mount Ski Gull” ayitskarl https://colabbrand.com/msg/