What will you do when it all melts…
With July 2012 being the hottest month in US recorded history, talk is swirling about what global warming will mean for our future. This talk ranges from the environmental changes to the casual. For the sake of fun, we’ll keep it somewhat casual here at Animal Farm. We are beckoned with a question though. What will snowboarders do when their local hills close down, due to low snow years, and early season melt-offs. At some point the means of blowing snow for an ever shorter season will start putting our favorite shred hills into bankruptcy. Some areas, especially at lower elevations, will even start to see no snow at all. Winter will become a rainy, cold season. What will we boarders do to get our snowboard thrills?
Couldn’t we all just pick up skating or surfing and be happy? I’ve thought about this a lot lately. While I’ve never had much access to surfing, I have had access to skating. Skating is a special, great experience in its own right, but it’s not snowboarding. What is snowboarding anyway?
On a recent visit to my parents’ house in western, NY I found a few old journals I was required to write for 8th and 11th grade English class. Reading them put my mind back in the late 90s/early 2000s. I also noticed that the pages were covered in my love for snowboarding. There is something special about the sport that has connected millions to it. I’ve decided that snowboarding is distinct in 3 main disciplines for me. These would be: backcountry (pow days, cliffs, chutes etc), resort (groomers, trails, glades), and park. These are all unique in that there is no other sport that really replicates them, save skiing somewhat, but that will melt away too. With these heavy though, an idea popped into my head. What really could replace these unique disciplines? Challenge accepted.
Pow slashes, vertical drop, runs that take long periods of time, and hikes may sum up part of the backountry snowboarding experience. Thinking about what could replace this, it seems nothing could. I would say the closest might be mountain biking or downhill biking. This would cover long runs and vertical.
After watching that it is apparent the thrills are there, but the relaxed old man pow turns are not. So it’s kind of a ½ deal. I’m going to venture and say the pow turns are going to be offset with some surfing, but then you don’t have the vertical or length of run.
Smooth surfaces and easy riding. For replacement, it seems the answer wouldn’t differ much from backcountry. A few changes could be that road biking replaces mountain biking. In addition longboarding and pool/bowl skating should be added. I put these under resort because they take place on smooth surfaces and do not necessarily need to involve any tricks. For the longest “groomer” speed run, maybe this is the replacement:
Jumps, rails and man-made features, all hit on a permanently connected board. Skating seems like the obvious way to offset this desire, but is it really? In some aspects yes, but in technical prowess it’s like comparing chess (skating) to checkers (snowboarding). For other sports, wakeboarding gets the 2 feet connected part down, but features are often limited and the expense to participate is high. This was until recently, with the advent of more and more cable boarding. It’s still not snowboarding, as you have to deal with a handle and the features will never be as big, but it is getting closer and closer (more availability, flexible boards etc). Combining skating and cable boarding, you might be able to overcome some of that park fever.
In the Meanwhile, be Aware
In truth, I am sure we’d all rather just keep snowboarding. Do what you can to help reduce carbon emissions. The best way to do this is to be knowledgeable and spread good knowledge. While personal automobiles are often put to blame, be aware of other carbon emitters such as cow farts, industry, airplanes, transportation of goods and other sources.