Ice Problems, Nice Solutions

ben kindlon

As we steadily roll into the month of September, a number of things are on my mind. I have to worry about class, studying and girls all on top of working at the newspaper.

But most importantly, I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to perfect my frontside boardslide when I strap up this season.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to ride. Too long. I spent the majority of the 2011-12 Season trekking to Hunter Mountain from New Paltz. A good mate of mine, Alex Nye, and I would head up every Wednesday, speeding through the fog under dark gray skies along the New York State Thruway.

In what was the worst season I can remember in my entire life as a snowboarder, I went to hit park more than 50 times.  But each time we went, the conditions were so terrible it was nearly impossible to progress at any level that seemed plausible to us. Our technical skill was good enough to be learning newer, more difficult tricks, but how could I make myself try to spin a 540 over a 25 foot jump if its lip is sheer ice and on impact the landing feels like concrete?

I thought I’d found the solution.

I’ll travel away from the East Coast for a season.  My mum, born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, always chose where we would go on vacation, meaning we never took out to Utah or Colorado.  She’s a hell of a lawyer, but not so nice on the skis. Blessed with the opportunity to study abroad, I chose to do it in New Zealand where I could snowboard during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months.

I had seen so many awesome videos of Kiwi riders like Nick Hyne and Billy Morgan destroying the rocky, cliff-filled terrain that New Zealand’s mountain had to offer, and wanted a taste of it myself.

On June 28, 2012, I embarked on my snowboarding pilgrimage to New Zealand. At last, I was on my way to shred Cardrona, Mt. Hutt and Snowpark, NZ, and could not be more ecstatic.

As I boarded my plane in Los Angeles, CA to take my 14-hour flight across the Pacific to my new home on New Zeland’s South Island, I thought, “It’s finally happening. I’m finally going to get to ride the powdery snow I’ve drooled over in videos for so long.”

Nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong.

Am I the curse of East Coast riding for the last 15 years?  After the worst season in my recollection on the East, I walked right into one of New Zealand’s worst skiing and snowboarding seasons in recent history. The riding I experienced in New Zealand was reminiscent of a mediocre season at a mountain like Okemo, Ludlow, VT.  It seems wherever I go, ice follows.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Oh man you should’ve been here last season,” or, “you’ve got to stick around mate, next season is going to be killer.”

But, in the end, tough luck, Ben.  This is the life of an Eastern Snowboarder.  There is no time for pessimism. That time is reserved for sliding medal.

Don’t spend time dwelling on the past, avoid thinking about your falls, and be confident in your skills. And not to be that dude, but actually yeah, to be that dude, have fun.

East coast, beast coast. Later, skaters.

Ben Kindlon