11 Most Glorious Things About Snowboarding

09Jan10

Although grumbling can be such fun, I decided to follow my 10 snowboarding grievances with a slightly longer list (so optimistic, I know) extolling the virtues of the sport.  So without further ado, 11 glorious things about snowboarding:

  1. Stunning sights: See picture above.  Need I go on?  A few treetops alone are marvelous–just a few speckles on a glossy basin framed by chiseled, treeless rock summits that reach toward heaven as if to snatch up the golden gates and install them instead in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain range.  Travelers be warned that as they creep along the icy lanes, they are approaching holy vistas.  Your soul must rise to the occasion, or be diminished by the greatness of your surroundings.
  2. Quirky lift attendants: Stand in line and the hanging chair lifts will deliver you to the summit; but, first you will encounter a gatekeeper of sorts (not exactly St. Peter).  One or two lift attendants are always on duty to assist kids, midgets, the blind, handicapped, and uncoordinated newbies getting on and off the lifts.  It is a painfully repetitive, boring job which turns the most blase attendant into a desperate entertainer.  They begin crafting phrases like “have a tubular time, yo” or “dude, shred some powder on those gnarly slopes” to send off each loaded chair.  Others resort to high-fives, funny faces, or singing.  One young Michelangelo in Vail Village began sculpting the 7 wonders of the world with snow.  He had completed a convincing Stonehenge, the pyramids of Egypt, and was placing the finishing touches on his snow Sphinx when I passed just yesterday.
  3. Crazy hats: Snowboarding is a great sport for people-watching fanatics.  I particularly like looking at hats.  While standing in lift lines or pausing at the top of a run, I have spotted pom-pom hats, long stringy hats, Elvis wig hats, spiky hats, and even a little kid with red horns and a tail protruding from the back of his head.  Just make sure you can actually board before donning a flamboyant headpiece on the slopes.
  4. Fresh powder:  Nothing beats gliding through fresh, untouched snow on a snowboard.  Nothing.  Not even cheesecake.
  5. Guilt-free binge eating: According to ChaCha (a mobile question-answering service), moderate snowboarding burns about 350 calories per hour.  Tackle a few black diamonds and only rest on the lifts and we’re talking 500 calories per hour.  The lifts are open for 7 hours, at least 5 of which I am cruising up and down the mountain.  So, on an average day in Vail, Colorado, I burn 2,000-plus calories before 4pm.  Basically, snowboarding erases the hesitance plaguing sedentary diners.  I will refill my bowl of chili as many times as I want, thank you; and, there is nothing gluttonous about it.
  6. Reckless abandon: Stepping into snowboard bindings gives the rider unspoken permission to be mildly insane.  You can crash into snowdrifts, jump off of moguls, or simply scream down the mountain spraying a wake of snow on the poor sucker trying to keep up with you.  Mountain = Freedom.
  7. Lift conversations: Whether with friends or strangers (like the exceptionally tall skier wearing a Christmas sweater today), lift conversations are always decidedly quirky.  Topics range from the generic ‘where are you from? how do you like Colorado?’ to more entertaining subjects like movie trivia, life plans, or best wipe-outs.  Breaking out into song also proved popular this trip–favorites including “Eight Days a Week,” “Don’t Stop Believin,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
  8. Great wipe-outs – I’ll just let you see for yourself.  This particular fall received hollers and applause from onlookers riding the lift overhead.
  9. Speeding past struggling snowboarders: Been there, done that.  Slid on my butt just like you; so, no, I do not have the slightest bit of sympathy for your sore knees and face full of snow.  (I may not be on greens anymore, but [see above] I have sore knees and a face full of snow, too–suck it up).
  10. The burn: Oh, the burn…when everything hurts with that delicious pain of victory.  I feel muscles that I never use in everyday life.  I wear out muscles that I do use everyday.  And, by some peculiar magic, no degree of aching, quaking muscles can discourage another day of battle.  The soreness slips away into the snow for a while, if only to return, compounded, after a hot shower.
  11. Going to sleep: Collapsing into bed after a triumph on the mount smells of sweet entitlement.  A snowboarder’s sleep sheds routine and becomes a privilege–something earned, something anticipated, something remarkable.  After a week in Vail Village, I am convinced we should never retire without the joy of exhaustion to carry us to sleep.

Okay, maybe I didn’t hit the lifts at 8:30 sharp this week; but, I rode every day.  I rode until close, and I rode hard.  I took advantage of shimmery bowls, ridiculous inclines, and uncrowded lift lines.  I am ravaged, ravenous, and demanding the dregs of my energy reservoir just to finish this.

In summary (and to use my new lingo), snowboarding is a sick nasty, so nectar, totally schwank sport.  ‘Nuff said.

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