Gear Up and Go Out

ben kindlon

Screeching and sputtering like broken nails on a crusty chalkboard, the metal edge of my snowboard grinds sketchily across the ice. Flailing my arms and regaining my balance, I have just enough time to pop a sizeable ollie. Luckily, the ollie was high enough to clear the patch of grass and lump of rocks left uncovered of snow.

Johnny Drama, from HBO’s “Entourage,” said it best:

“Hell, if you can ski Hunter Mountain, you can ski anywhere.”

I’m with Drama on this one.

East coast riding is the jankiest. Conditions are inconsistent, drastically cold, excessively windy and powder days come few and far between.  Waking up to four days of below freezing weather without any snow and on the fifth it’ll warm up and rain, only to freeze again and restart the annoying cycle.

It’s always funny to hear a kid from Colorado tell you that they had a bad season. By funny, I mean the most spoiled sounding pretentious bull shenanigans that I don’t have any patience to listen to.

Last year, my mate Alex Nye and I were getting rained on during our trips to Hunter as late as February.

One day, as we rode up the Broadway LTD. Quad chair over Park Avenue, we sat in silence clutching our bandanas close to our faces in a feeble attempt to keep the wind out.  The ice-covered lips and landings of all the park features glared menacingly in our direction as if to say, “don’t even try it.”

“This sucks,” I said

“Yup,” he responded.

After experiencing such consistently terrible conditions, Nye and I changed absolutely nothing.  We continued to beat ourselves up and forced our way through the frosty awfulness every chance we got.  And the park crew would deliver as much as they could with what Mother Nature would allow.

The name of the game was, and always is, persistence. These are the tests of my commitment to prove to myself how much snowboarding truly means to me.

“Words go with the wind,” a friend once told me.

Words may go with the wind, but actions stand firmly planted in solidity, despite gusty deterrents.  The effort and dedication I see on the East Coast is what makes me proud to be a rider from New York.

I’m glad that my riding wasn’t born with a silver spoon.  I cherish every bit of fluffy snow like it’s my last of the season, because it could very well be.  Rocks, ice or a car thermostat that reads four degrees Fahrenheit won’t deter me from coming back as soon as I’ve fixed my board’s most recent core-shot.

It is not to say that a rider from Idaho doesn’t appreciate a good powder day, but I’m sure they can’t in the same way.  We’re all addicts jonesin’ for the same fix, but everyone can admit the fix isn’t as easily found on this side of the country.

It’s only November, so we can still all pretend to be optimistic for a solid year of snow, but soon reality will set in.  The East Coast is not heavenly riding. The cold and ice will come with its usual vengeance.  It’s inevitable.

This is war.  Gear up, sharpen your edges and prepare for battle – winter is coming.

East coast, beast coast. Later skaters.