Thursday, February 16, 2012

Go boarding

By Nathan Shoup, Sports Columnist

Those going up to the mountain to hit the slopes for the first time are often stuck with a decision to make: Do they hop on a snowboard or a pair of skis?

Let me make this decision easy for you. Go snowboarding.

That is, unless you have the desire to appear twice your actual age.

As many Pacific Lutheran students near graduation and begin the job hunt, an older appearance certainly would not hurt. This, however does not earn you any brownie points on the mountain.

Now in my seventh year as a snowboarder, I am not necessarily ready to qualify for the Winter X-Games and challenge Sean White’s perfect 10.0 score in the Snowboard SuperPipe scored on Jan. 28. Yet, I am not blind to the social structure of the mountain either.

There is an ever-growing movement on the mountain where the youth are in the majority, and the youth snowboard.

One reason for this could be financial. While lift ticket costs for skiers and snowboarders alike are universal, equipment prices are not.

Skiers need two different skis, two different poles, two different boots and two different bindings. Snowboarders only need one board, two bindings and two boots.

The Crystal Mountain Ski Resort on Mt. Hood is an hour and a half from Pacific Lutheran University. According to Crystal Mountain’s website, renting a ski package for the day is $37.

Renting a snowboard package for the day is $32.

While the $5 difference may at first appear marginal, that $5 goes a long way for the college student. That is a gallon and a half of gas for the car or dinner on the way home.

In 2008, Burton Snowboards offered a $5,000 reward for video footage of someone snowboarding in one of the four resorts that prohibited snowboarding at the time.

In a USA Today article titled “Snowboarders offered bounty for poaching ski-only resorts” by Lisa Rathke, Burton Snowboards called these ski-only resorts “elitist and fascist.”

The article points out that, upon the announcement of the contest, Taos ski area in New Mexico lifted it’s prohibition on snowboarding.

It may be a product of my upbringing, or our culture, but I have never heard the adjectives elitist or fascist used to describe the youth. Certainly not all skiers are elitist or fascist, but Burton would have something to say about that.

Taos ski area lifting its ban on snowboarding undeniably symbolizes the youth movement that is beginning to occur on mountains across the country.

As the youth take over the mountain, so does snowboarding.

For those of us who have been on the mountain, I am discounting that occasional five-year-old future Olympian skier who leaves everyone in their snow trail, baffled and amazed.

One of the many beauties of college is that you get to find your own niche. You don’t have to necessarily conform to one like you did in high school.

Unfortunately for the skiers of the world, particularly the young ones, the mountain is evolving more into a high school cafeteria than a coffee spot looking over red square.

It is the snowboarders that are walking down the hallway with the cheerleaders on their arm, and it is the skiers who jealously look over their shoulders.