The Feeling Remains the Same

It’s late July, and the glare of deadlines under fluorescent lights isn’t my favorite reality. I’m caught in betweenseasons with only memories to bridge the gap. My snow time ended in April, and as you read this, it’s mostlikely September. The leaves are beginning to change, and it’ll be a couple months before the soft canvas isready once again. For now, there are memories … … Winter 1987.

I slipped my brutalized feet into a bucket of warm water and looked across the room at my friend. Nate was from Washington and had already beensnowboarding for a couple years. Determined to get me riding, he dragged me into the mountains of LakeTahoe. We sat exhausted in our friend’s cabin after my first day. “Thanks,” I sighed, and he replied with awise, knowing smile. The look on my face that day must have said it all; how could something so absolutelyand ridiculously fun not have been around for decades? Even though snowboarding was still young, I felt likeI’d been missing out. My entire body ached-I’d never experienced “omni-pain” before. “You had some goodtumbles,” Nate laughed. Frozen numbness masked the pain for a few hours, but as my feet thawed thethrobbing agony grew. Every bone in my feet felt crunched and ground into splinters, as if I’d subjectedmyself to ancient Chinese foot-binding.

The strange part was the last six hours had been far from torturous-they were sheer joy. A single day and I was hooked … It’s over a decade later, and equipment has come a long way. The old Sorels I wore that first day, and the unpadded, stiff plastic straps I cranked downon them, are relics of snowboarding’s Stone Age. Interface, our boot and binding buyer’s guide (page 60),is full of the latest, ergonomic, super-padded, ultra-light, high-performance gear. There’s some incrediblestuff out there-technology breeds innovation and improvement. But it’s all relative. When our greatgrandfathers were driving Model Ts, they were having as good a driving experience as our grandchildren willin their electronic hover-craft. My memory of that first day made me realize something: by spending so manyhours over the last few years looking at, trying, and thinking about all the different products out there, I’ve letthe essence of snowboarding become clouded. Riding is all that matters. More time on snow is the goal, newgear a small detail. If having the latest stuff gets you on the hill more that’s great, but equipment should neverget in the way of riding.

Straps, step-ins, army boots, it’s all good if it feels good. These days, people don’t have to endure the pain many did in the early years. I don’t want to forget how much better equipment is today. In fact, this winter I plan to lace up an ancient, weathered pair of boots, snug down the oldest strapbindings I can find, and drop in on a ten-year-old board. It won’t be comfortable, and I’ll lack theprogressive sidecut, perfect-flex, lightweight setup, but nothing will be taken for granted and what’s importantwill be clear-simply to be out riding.

Scooter Leonard Associate Editor