That red rectangle is testing me. It’s challenging me. I’ve always had problems with impulsive buying. What if this is another occasion? Finally, I follow my gut feeling and click on the daunting red rectangle.
I had just spent all of my birthday, Christmas and allowance money on brand new snowboarding gear, despite living in Ohio at the time, 20 hours from the Rocky Mountains.
This wasn’t my first time spending significant amounts of money on hobbies. I played hockey and lacrosse, both expensive sports. The difference was, I could play lacrosse with the goal in my backyard or play catch with my brother basically any time I wanted. Even hockey was fairly accessible, with different leagues and programs running year-round at the local indoor ice rink. But when you live in Kansas, or anywhere else that you don’t have a mountain in your backyard, it’s extremely difficult to be an avid boarder.
The most important difference with snowboarding and skiing compared to normal sports is the fact that you have to go to a mountain (or at least a big hill) to do them. Most people don’t live within range to legitimate snowy destinations, so the frequency of boarding is limited. Knowing that you can only board for a few months out of the year makes the handful of times you do go more special.
Besides the requirement of a mountain, snowboarding has other quirks. Unlike basketball, soccer and football, where you wear team uniforms, snowboarders wear off-beat and vibrantly colored clothing. With baggy snow pants, colorful bandannas and boards with edgy designs, it’s as much of a fashion show as it is an adrenaline-laced thrill ride. Some colors found in snowboarding gear, for example the highlighter yellow from my goggles or the neon pink and green from my bandanna, would be extremely tacky anywhere else.
From my navy blue baby snowsuit to my electric blue jacket now, I’ve always treasured wintertime. It started when I lived in Cincinnati. My house was on a big hill that was perfect for sledding; our front yard was so steep that many kids from around the neighborhood would come over to our house and sled.
When we were a bit older, my parents took my siblings and I out to a man-made snow park called Perfect North. In my mind it was the greatest thing since the invention of snow. With 23 trail runs and two terrain parks, Perfect North was located at a managable distance of a 40 minute drive. I first tried skiing, which I picked up quickly, but soon became bored with the monotonous and unexciting movements. I had seen some snowboarding on the X Games and thought that it looked exhilarating from the speed and skill required, so I made the decision to rent a snowboard instead of skis with my friend the next time we went to the slopes.
From the first run I went down on a snowboard, I knew it would be something I wanted to master. I’ve always liked balance-incorporated sports, playing everything from ice hockey and rollerblading to “Ripstiks” and “Heely’s” shoes. I know a lot of people who don’t want to try snowboarding because they think it’s too hard, and while it’s very difficult to get the hang of, part of that challenge is what makes it so addicting. Skiing may be easier to learn, but once you learn how to snowboard, it’s way more exciting and intense.
To snowboard, the basics include a solid wooden/composite board with bindings that screw into the board’s base. I usually include the boots into this category, since they are essential to ride. Snowboarding is not a cheap hobby; a good board/bindings/boots setup can run anywhere from $300-$1000 and higher. That much of an investment forces you to be committed and passionate about snowboarding, and to go out as much as you can.
Snow Creek, which is the closest snowboarding spot in Kansas City, usually opens mid-December, leaving a small amount of time to ride. If you have your own equipment, you can get just a boarding pass for a little under $50 for a day. However, with gas prices rising, the hour-long trip there and back is an additional expense in itself. Although artificial snow parks are better than nothing, they pale in comparison to the real McCoy, the Rocky Mountains.
After years of pleading, I finally convinced my parents to take us on a Colorado ski trip last spring break. We went to Vail, and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. When I was up on the mountain, everything was blanketed in a layer of white powder, and I could look out across the sky and see the clouds below. Once I reached the top, it took multiple heart-pounding hours to ride down the entire mountain.
With beautiful places like that being the venues for the sport, it’s almost worth the limited time and insane amounts of money. In the end, I say basketball, soccer and football players can have their fields and courts and year-round play, and I’ll take my picturesque views and the unforgettable rush of fresh, cool powder rushing underfoot as I speed down the mountain.