Freedom. Not just the work to get paid kind of freedom. The feeling of weightlessness on top of the world. That unrelenting bliss, and black hole kind of silence. Why else would anyone expose themselves to bitter cold, and outrageous terrain?
My name is Jon. I’ve been snowboarding for roughly 24 years, and I am still in love with the thrill. I still remember the first time I went snowboarding. My parents had bought me a Lamar board, Ride bindings, and some kind of no-name brand boots for Christmas, and even to this day, they were the best gifts I ever got. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they had gotten me the gift of freedom. It only got better when they announced we would be going to Panorama for the week following that Christmas.
We arrived in Panorama in the latter half of the afternoon. I remember it well, only because I was throwing a fit that I couldn’t get on my board that day. I had to wait for the next day. Once our room was figured out and we had basically moved in for the weekend, my board was already out of its bag, and I was dressed ready to go. If I couldn’t get on the hill, I was going to find my own. Outside our room was a small hill with barely an inch of snow on it. I was warned there wasn’t enough snow and I may scratch my board, but I didn’t care. Out I went.
Sitting at the top of this maybe 8ft hill, I strapped in for the first time and pointed my nose. I was in heaven, for about 4 seconds. The ground came up and hit me so hard I thought my head exploded. “So this is snowboarding,” I thought. “This sucks.” I was never the kid to give up after the first unsuccessful try, so I climbed back up and tried again. And again. And again. Cold and defeated, I returned to the hotel room. My parents were right about the board. It was super scratched.
The night before my first ride, I remember laying on the hotel room bed with the remaining members of my immediate family all crammed in around me. Quiet and disappointed, I looked over my now ‘damaged’ board. My dad had the TV on to a channel that I don’t think even exists anymore, and they were playing ‘You’ve Gotta See This’. Of course it was ski/snowboard themed. The only thing I recall from the episode was a snowboarding dropping off an 80ft cliff and landing directly on a rock. He ended up shattering his left femur and severely injuring the other leg. I could feel my blood curdle and the puke at the back of my tongue. No way was I going snowboarding the next day.
Inevitably the next day came and it was time to ride. I swallowed back the fear instilled from last night’s TV show, and strapped in for my first ever snowboard lesson. Looking back, I wish I still got these things for Christmas, but you grow up and people just get you socks… Anyways, after a few technical lessons on flat ground, up the chairlift we went. I will never forget the feeling of strapping in to my board and looking down the mountain. It was freedom. All the emotions from the day before, washed away. As a matter of fact, there was nothing on my mind at all. I had never felt like that before, and I was in love.
23 years later I’m still out there every winter, slashing lines into the fresh. Looking to go further than ever before. Taking the chairlift to the top, but keep climbing. Past the boundary line, and into the bliss. Knee deep walks into the unknown; just for that elusive feeling of freedom.