Snowboarders still shred despite small participation numbers

Devon McClain

Snow spraying to the left and right, carving at exhilarating speeds and insane airtime, snowboarding is a favorite winter activity for a small percentage of thrill-seeking Redwood students.

According to a recent Bark survey, 72 percent of students self-reported that they will be spending their winter on a pair of skis, whereas only 28 percent will be on a board. Snowboarders will be outnumbered on the slopes as well as in the hallways. However, there are a few key reasons as to why snowboarders prefer their sport over what the majority of Redwood students favor.

Senior Leana Ngo is a zealous snowboarder and loves to immerse herself in snowboarding culture whenever possible. 

Leana Ngo races down a mountain on one of her snowboarding expeditions.
Leana Ngo races down a mountain on one of her snowboarding expeditions.

Whether it is making the trek to Tahoe or working at the Any Mountain outdoor clothing store in Corte Madera, Ngo does whatever she can to surround herself with snow lovers and fellow boarders.

This can come from either interacting with customers or from one of her many trips to Tahoe, riding at resorts such as Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley and Northstar.

Last snowboarding season, Ngo took full advantage of the tremendous snowfall (exceeding 650 inches), by spending over 20 days in the snow. She now goes up more frequently, knowing the only way to improve her skills is through more experience.

“Snowboarding is kind of like surfing, where the more often that you get into the water, it definitely does you improve your ability and comfortableness with your surroundings,” Ngo said. With nine years of experience, Ngo mastered many basic techniques and says she is always aiming to advance in her technical skills to dominate each mountain. Having both skiing and snowboarding experience, Ngo understands the vast differences between the two.

“With snowboarding, it’s more a full body twisting motion, whereas with skiing you’re mostly incorporating the lower half of your body,” Ngo said.

Not only do the two sports require different skill sets, but at first, snowboarding seems to have an extended learning period too. This may be a possible reason for the lack of snowboarders in the Redwood community. Ngo believes that snowboarding may be easier to master over time, but initially it is much more challenging to learn.

“For skiing, the learning curve is a lot sharper and you can pick it up a lot faster, but with snowboarding it takes a while,” Ngo said.

Junior Baylor Rembrandt gets air on a jump in Tahoe.
Junior Baylor Rembrandt gets air on a jump in Tahoe.

Similar in skill level, senior Eli Arrick also appreciates the stableness and flow of snowboarding. Like Ngo, Arrick transferred from skiing to snowboarding and hasn’t regretted his decision.

“I’ve always liked the freestyle aspect of it, and I find snowboarding to be much more comfortable and stable,” Arrick said.

While it typically takes a while for those who are new to snowboarding to get the hang of it, Arrick said that he was able to pick it up quickly because of his background in other boarding sports.

“I wakeboard and have skateboarded a little in the past, so snowboarding felt pretty similar to that,” Arrick said.

Arrick originally spent most of his time at terrain parks, but since he’s started to go with more advanced skiers, he’s moved on to larger mountains with natural obstacles and jumps. 

Junior Baylor Rembrandt also enjoys taking trips to Tahoe to work on improving his snowboarding skills. Even with a few years of experience, Rembrandt said that some situations in which snowboarding may be more challenging than skiing. For example, it is much more difficult to maneuver around moguls on steep terrain with a snowboard because of the inability to change direction as quickly as with skis.

Another reason that Redwood may be lacking snowboarders is because of how difficult it is to switch after beginning on skis. According to Rembrandt, it is typically easier for younger children to begin on skis. After becoming so accustomed to skiing, it’s a hassle to switch over to snowboarding if they are interested.

“Not many people want to spend their time at a ski resort just to have to start all over and learn something totally different,” said Rembrandt.

There are many possible reasons for the scarce amount of snowboarders at Redwood, but these three individuals continue to ride with a passion, hoping to improve their skills on each and every run they take.