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IMG_1848With Valentine’s Day looming thoughts turn to love, lust and romance but how much affection do you feel for your fellow winter sports enthusiasts? In the past there was much made about the rivalry between those who favoured one plank and those who chose two. The animosity was fuelled by the media but there was a basis from which that sprang, with numerous reports of badly behaved slope-users hurling abuse at one another. Snowboarders were seen as reckless, yobbish, young males who paid no attention to the traditional etiquette observed by skiers. Skiing and snowboarding have very different histories which influence the culture within each sport. Recreational skiing tradition has been distilled over the last 150 years, whilst snowboarding is relatively young with its popularity gaining huge momentum in the 1990’s. If you want to know more about snowboarding history checkout the film,We Ride – The Story of Snowboarding.”

In the early days of snowboarding tension undoubtedly existed between the disciplines with snowboarders having to lobby resorts to allow them access to the slopes. But gradually, over time, snowboarding became accepted and even started to influence skiing with the development of carver skis and freestyle skiing. Nowadays the rivalry is more myth than reality with the boundaries between the two sports blurring. Many people snowboard and ski and will choose their equipment depending upon how they feel and whether there is powder to be had. However, there are fundamental differences so can a harmonious holiday exist when there is a mixed party of snowboarders and skiers?

Personally I have been on a number of mixed holidays and had a great time, but how does it feel from a skier’s perspective when everyone else is on one plank? Tina who came away with Claire and myself on a recent girls’ trip explains:

“I was slightly uncertain about going on a short trip to the French Alps with two mummy snowboarders. As a skier myself, I had mixed feelings about the ‘dark side’ of snowsports. Previous experience of snowboarders had told me that they sit awkwardly on chair lifts leaving you squashed in the middle, spend forever getting in the way in small groups at the top of a run putting their bindings on and are often found sitting down in the middle of the run while fellow snowboarders and skiers are forced to weave around them.

Tina on her two planks

Tina on her two planks

However, I was pleasantly surprised that the idiosyncrasies of snowboarders were far from annoying and added an extra flavour to the trip. Initially shocked at the audacity of Kate to call our friend, Claire, ‘goofy’ I soon realised that it wasn’t an insult! With Kate only being able to exit a ski lift to the right and Claire to the left, sitting in between them, while leaving me a little short of space, at least allowed me plenty of room to exit the lift and manage my own issues with balance. It was nice to feel genuinely appreciated for pulling them up after fixing their bindings and using my ski pole to assist with those flat bits of runs that can only be managed by bunny-hopping! I also now know why snowboarders sit down in the middle of a run…because they can!!!

Would I go again? Yes, absolutely, but will probably stick to skiing for now…??or maybe I’ll give snowboarding a try, they did seem to have a lot more fun in the park that I did!”

Difficulties obviously did exist when snowboarding was in its infancy but, as Tina describes above, most snowsports participants use the stereotypes for a bit of friendly banter rather than any serious disagreements. See the clip below as snowboarders poke fun at themselves.

As time marches on the next generation of slope users will assign the birth ofsnowboarding and all its associated struggles to history. What everyone wants, no matter what is strapped to their feet, are fun and freedom enjoying the magnificent, mountain scenery. So grab one plank or two, get out there, enjoy the shred, and feel the love.

My cousin's children at Silver Star, Canada

My cousin’s children at Silver Star, Canada

Ta ta for now,