For angler Gerald Swindle, of Birmingham, Ala., coming to Breckenridge for the Dew Tour came with a slew of new experiences.
“You’re a little winded just unloading your luggage, slipping around like a deer with new legs out there, but we’ll get this,” he said with a laugh.
Swindle and his wife, LeAnn, traveled to Summit County with Team Toyota, strapping on snowboards alongside the likes of Toyota teammates Louie Vito and Elena Hight and taking a stab at life on the mountain.
“Snowboarding — they make it look effortless, like it’s some kind of dance,” Swindle said of his teammates.
Neither Swindle nor his wife had ever snowboarded before their adventure this week, and Swindle is already naming ibuprofen among his friends.
“Maybe if I had learned at 20, but when you start falling at 40 — there should be a cutoff day of when you can learn to snowboard,” he said. “That first day, you take a beating, but you’re a competitor, so you keep getting up and getting up and falling and falling. … When I look at that mountain, I’m looking at it as a novice — is it a halfpint or a half-pipe?”
On fishing and boarding
As it turns out, a lot of comparisons can be drawn between championship bass fishing and shooting the half-pipe, Swindle said, as both competitions allow the individual athlete to control his or her own destiny.
“Their life is their imagination; that’s the cool thing about their sport,” he said of his on-mountain teammates. “Whatever your mind can create, whatever your mind can do. That relates to our sport. I fish a nine-hour day, fishing against Mother Nature. If I make a mistake, that might have been a half-million-dollar mistake.
“It’s all up there for them; they call the shots. Bass fishing is such a huge mental game because there are thousands of decisions to make. When most people come inside our world, it blows them away. This is fast; this is moving — same with our sport. When I watch them I’m thinking, it’s all up here. Truly the sky’s the limit.”
Swindle pointed to skiing and snowboarding as a lifestyle, a blood line, akin to rights of passage from the South such as jacking up your truck or teaching your child to hunt.
“We see these kids, and we laugh about it because we see people try to bring other people into the sport who’ve never hunted,” he said. “I see that out on the mountain, it’s a blood line. It’s in their blood as a child; they can’t leave it.”
“You see them from this big,” he said, holding his hand a few feet off the ground. “Mother, daughter, watching those little bitty kids coming down the slopes past me, yelling, ‘Loser! Loser!’ I’ve been around a lot of great athletes; I’ve always been a sports fanatic, admiring the skill level. These guys have got it. That’s what the chairlift is for: carrying their balls to the top of the mountain.”
Swindle’s appreciation for the vertical antics of the athletes in the half-pipe and on the slopestyle course increased dramatically after a day on the hill.
“I took a couple of headers — that whole going downhill with the board first. I’m doing the damn duck wobble up here and she’s going, ‘Mayday!’” he said of LeAnn. “After about 20 falls, I’m going to tell you straight up, you suck. I’m crashing all over the mountain.”
“Maybe if I had learned at 20, but when you start falling at 40 — there should be a cutoff day of when you can learn to snowboard. That first day, you take a beating, but you’re a competitor, so you keep getting up and getting up and falling and falling. ... When I look at that mountain, I’m looking at it as a novice — is it a halfpint or a half-pipe?”
Pro bass fisherman