The day I was initiated into snowboarding’s secret realm | SummitDaily.com
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The day I was initiated into snowboarding’s secret realm

Ryan Slabaugh

Finally, I could feel something. I knew why my neck hurt.

I had it craned against some pillows that cushioned my body like a mountain cushions a mudslide.

A little after midnight, my friend Kent was snoring on the other couch. The room smelled like wet clothes and, as I began to shift my body into a prone position, I could sense the aches and pains spiking through my body.

The morning before, we were on the 7:30 a.m. bus heading to the mountain. This came after a half-hour session scooping snow off his stairs, just so we could reach the bus stop. The 30-inch storm the day before had covered the town in a big, white mumu and I wanted to try it on.

So, I rode with four snowboarders who knew the nicks and crannies of this mountain.

I was on skis, battling through the trees, plugging through the heavy snow, while they sailed on their back edges. But I kept up.

No big falls. Just lots of big powder, a few breaks and seven hours of silliness.

“This is silly,” one of them said. “This is actually pretty ridiculous.”

I had known the rift between skiers and snowboarders was false; one blames the other for being reckless and then advances toward the larger generalization. If you hear someone say, “I hate snowboarders,” they probably mean, “I fear people without poles.”

And, if you hear someone say, “I hate skiers,” they probably mean, “I hate that they act so damn uppity.”

Not to wear out this tired argument, but I felt none of that. I did feel like the freak, the odd ball, the experiment everyone is watching to see if it can catch up.

As the day wore on, and as we headed down the hill, I heard the snowboarders telling me the truth: “You’ve been initiated.”

We sputtered our way down. One guy dug himself out of a trench and used my poles to help.

As I passed my dented, blue pole over to him, I felt like I was extending the olive branch. A snowboarder with poles is about like Rush Limbaugh on drugs. They preach and preach and preach and, when you least expect it, they’re reaching out for a little help.

And then, the apres. We congregated and told stories and, with food in front of us, we shut up.

We slouched. We drank, rode home and sat on the couch.

We feigned energy. We fell asleep where we sat.

But when I woke with a crooked neck, the soreness made me realize how many things I don’t think about on skis.

For the previous powder day, I had been an asexual cave man who was debt-free and in charge of his destiny.

Between the cold, the fatigue and the pleasure, my body and mind had turned numb. After all these years of skiing, I really did feel like a snowboarder.

I guess that’s the definition of the New School.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 257, or at rslabaugh@summitdaily.com.


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