Colbert: Snowboarding should be fun |

Colbert: Snowboarding should be fun

Austin Colbert

— In regard to snowboarding, a lot has changed for me in the six weeks since my last account of learning to shred the nar (that’s how we say that, right?).

Here’s a quick recap. I grew up in Kansas, where the main winter activity is sledding on the two snow days per year — and fighting for space with everyone else on the one sled-able hill — and otherwise spending your time grumbling about how awful winter is.

This is my first winter in Colorado, or the mountains in general. I strapped myself to a snowboard for the first time back in November, before the mountain opened for the season. Progress was slow at first, me struggling to learn only the basics.

Finally, in large part due to a few lessons from the Steamboat Springs Ski and Resort Corp. SnowSports School, I began to tackle blues and, recently, blacks. I can handle small jumps and maneuver through the trees with only a few bumps and bruises.

I’m still not very good, but for the most part can successfully trick people into thinking I’m a competent snowboarder. Most of the time, if you act as if you know what you’re doing, people will think it’s true.

My current struggle is continuing to find enjoyment in the sport. It’s not that I don’t love snowboarding — I do — but I rarely snowboard for the fun of it. The past few months have both been a physical and emotional battle to learn the sport, mostly to fit in socially, in my new home.

I learned to snowboard because I felt I had to, and the better I get, the more I want to push myself. When I make it to the mountain for an afternoon of shredding, I usually go alone with the idea of finding a new personal ceiling. It’s not a calming activity that I use to get away from the daily grind of life, but a training session where I am both coach and athlete.

And maybe this is the reason why snowboarding can become a burden. Similar to any sport, you start doing it out of love for the activity. But the better you get, the more it becomes a job. Many professional athletes, including those on snowboards and skis, can be burned out by the time they reach their 20s.

Now, I’m no professional athlete, nor will I ever be one. Still, I understand how continually trying to push yourself to that next level can be draining. It’s easy to forget why we first started doing something in our continued quest to improve.

Hopefully I’m the only one with this problem, in which snowboarding has become more of a burden than a sport to enjoy. I want snowboarding to become a lifelong activity for me, or at least until my body says, “Enough is enough.”

To make that happen, it’s important to focus on the real reasons I do it. Maybe at the top of my list is simply being out in nature in the mountains in winter. It’s still a foreign concept for my Kansas roots, and something that continues to awe me each time I reach the top of any of Steamboat’s chairlifts.

It’s a special thing we have here in Steamboat, a place where we can get a few laps in during our lunch break. It’s that little bit of enjoyment found in those brief moments that make snowboarding or skiing so fun. It’s not trying to break speed records or get an extra few inches on your jumps. It’s the thrill of being in the mountains in the winter — just you, your board, and hundreds of your like-minded friends.

And sometimes, it’s important to remind ourselves of the wonder of it all. I’m not going to stop snowboarding any time soon, but it also doesn’t mean I can’t use some motivation from time to time. So, for the lifelong snowboarders that continue to shred day after day, year after year, I’d love to hear from you and find out what fuels you to keep going.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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