I am Darryl, and in 4 months time I will become a snowboarder. Here is my story.
I grew up in Southern Ontario in you're average middle class family. My parents moved from Brampton up to the Creemore area when I was a wee little boy to get away from the crazyness that is Toronto. We lived on a farm not 5 min. away from a small ski hill (Mansfield) where at the age of 4 I learned how to ski. Over the years I started to love the sport (well, to be honest, I believe I may have loved it right from the first day) and soon my life was nothing more than waiting for the weekend so I could go skiing. My parents put me in ski lessons when I was around 5 or 6, but I didn't like being told what to do (and they took my poles away, saying I wasn't ready for them yet - how is a boy suposed to get up from a fall without his trusty poles?) so that only lasted a few months.
At around the age of 10 I was begining to develope some skill at the sport so my parents put me in a racing program at Loretto Ski Club thinking it would help with my skiing... I found it quite boring, and after one day of 'training' I asked my dad if I could quit. Thankfully, he agreed. Then, at the age of 12 I had found the thrill of 'getting air' and asked my parents if I could join the mogul team at Mansfield. I spent that winter learning the proper techniques for skiing moguls and how to pop off kickers properly, and I was loving it. Unfortunatly, that was the last winter I would ever ski Mansfield. They (like so many other ski hills in the area) made the switch over to private status - efectivly kicking me off the hill I learned how to ski on.
This brought me to Blue Mountain where I discovered night skiing. Blue Mountain also had a terrain park, which I had never seen before. But sadly, it was only 1998 and skiers were not allowed in. The next winter is when it all happened - the park was open to skiers, I got a hold of the Freeze issue with the New Canadian Air Force, started saving up for a pair of 1080's, and was already working on the latest grabs (I already had a taste of halfpipe from a visit to Tremblant the year before). The next 4 years (also happened to be my highschool years) I developed my park skills (progression was a day to day thing), met some very cool people, and more and more, had the desire to excel, maybe even make a name for myself in the sport.
I can't quite pinpoint the time when I decided to stop with the dream of becoming pro, perhaps it was when I stopped bouncing and started bruising, or maybe it was just the little kid inside of me that didn't like his poles getting taken away from him, I don't think I will ever know. What I do know though is when I decided to become a ski bum. It was my first winter out from highschool - I was out of my parents house, living with some friends and working as a lifty at Blue Mountain... I lasted 3 weeks (shortly after New Years) when I got fired (but that's a different story), and it was our very own Doug Bishop who put the idea in my head.
I had enough money to pay rent till the end of the season and a bit left over for food (in March I had to enter a halfpipe competition to get more food money), and Doug said "Hey, you should try to go all winter without a job, just bum it" I really don't think he was serious, but I took it to heart and found my calling. Skiing was no longer about progresing towards the next big trick, there was no more on hill pressure to get it done... I was skiing for the love of the sport. I think maybe that is why I gave up on trying to become a pro skier - I just loved skiing to much - even with skiing everyday I didn't want to stop and wait for the camra guy to get set up... that would mean one or two less runs.
So for the past 4 winters I have been living the 'other' dream... the forgotten dream, but that little word we all love and hate came back to bite me in the ass: PROGRESSION. Even with no outside pressure to excel, the little voice inside your head is always tryng to push you... Sadly for me, lately there has been a new voice that has been fighting back, making me not try new things, and in some instances, telling me not to do a trick that I have done before. The day you stop progressing completely is the day you quit - that has always been my thoughts, now I have not completely stopped progresing, it is just moving a lot slower every year.
That is why I am going to learn how to snowboard. To have the feeling of learning something new everytime you go out on the hill. Being stoked on a whole ton of little things, and seeing endless possibilties when looking at a jump, rail, halfpipe, cliff or whatever happens to be downhill from you. I am not turning to snowboarding because I think skiing is lame - if anything, skiing is the inspiration for my turn for snowboarding.
I will not stop skiing, no - I don't think I will ever stop skiing... if anything, I hope that snowboarding brings the kid back into my skiing, and I will always ski when it comes to the mountain... you can just access so much more on skis.
So until next winter - I'll be down in NZ learning to do backside shifties like MFM can.
Keep on Rockin'