I quit snowboarding

July 31st, 2009

By Mark Catsburg

Not like I tried it for a week on rental gear, and the weather was miserable so I packed it in and went and sulked in the café quit. But more like I stopped bothering filming my video part, trying to get photos, sold my snowboards, stopped talking to my sponsors, packed up all my gear in salt lake city, and moved to hollywood quit.

To be honest. It was a one of the better ideas I have ever had.

I love snowboarding. So I left it. (Like that movie The Notebook – a right tear jerker!)

I will lay it all out for you, try to explain; It was in the spring of my fourteenth winter back to back, seven years without a summer. I had had a pretty good season, filmed a few things, gotten a couple photos, but the pressures of bettering my last video parts and learning all the hip new manoeuvres was just all a bit much, so my days went from looking like this… Get up early, hike all day, build a jump, come home late, have something to eat and go out at night after dinner to find something to jib.

They then turned into something a lot more like this… Get up late, having a long breakfast, drive to the mountain, take a couple chill laps, take a break, two more runs, then get some tacos before going to the bar.

Living in snowboard towns gets pretty old when you don’t care about snowboarding that much anymore, and I certainly can’t be bothered talking about snowboarding every night all night to everyone you see.

So I left. I left Salt Lake, left filming, left a box of boards, two pairs of bindings, new boots, three jackets, a couple pairs of pants, my borrowed season pass and my apartment furnished entirely (with air mattresses). I left with un-snowboard related clothes in a black garbage bag, $75 American dollars and a really good friend in a red jetta and drove to California.

“but you had it all!” you might say, or you might say, “you were crap anyway, gald you left!”… And you might be right, but you know what, snowboarding is a great way to be a big fish in a small pond, leave it behind and move to Los Angeles and you are fucking plankton. There are a hundred kids taking up snowboarding seriously every year, and they are usually better than you by the end of the season, hungrier, more motivated, way more stoked. I was jaded, my days of riding from first chair till last were left wet and smelly in the dark end of my snowboard bag, and the thought of punishing my body for the sake of a photograph had become a little bit daunting. The whole thing had turned from being the thing I loved the most, travelling the world riding with friends, hardly working a real job and hanging around in the snow all day to being pretty horrible. I was being a bitch basically, a fed-up stroppy throw-my-board-around shouting swearwords in the backcountry because powder is too hard to land in and I was sick to death of ragdolling, little bitch.

It wasn’t how it was supposed to be, and I didn’t like who I was becoming. I have seen a bunch of those washed up ex pro dudes who still live in the snowboard towns and still get drunk with everyone but are the first to hate on the new kids and tell them about “how it was” back in the day. That wasn’t for me, so decided to make sure I didn’t become that guy.

I didn’t think about it much after I left, I still watched a few teasers for new videos online, flicked through the mags when I came across one, and talked to other snowboarders when I would see them out, but basically, I had nothing nice to say, so I found other things to talk about.

This big change even surprised me, I was always the guy saying, “I’m going to ride till I’m old and my knees fall off.” I thought about it every minute of every day for seven years, watched videos, read magazines and looked at every rail I passed on the bus as a potential jib – then almost all at once I stopped. I skated more, started a band got heavy into music and the things that come with that lifestyle. I kind of traded one life for another. What helped was that I didn’t have snowboarding to consume me anymore, so I needed to find something that I was equally passionate about to fill the void. Much like a rebound relationship to help forget about an ex, I messed around a bunch with all kinds of things to keep occupied, girls, partying, clothes, more partying, skating, DJing, writing, whatever.

It’s been three years since I quit. I still kept travelling, even went back to Salt Lake for a couple weeks to see everyone, but a bunch of my friends from there live in LA now so I spent more time there, and the other ones had blown up and were all off filming for videos or whatever. It’s not like I threw in the towel to be an accountant or anything, I still have pretty much the same life, just with a different passion, different crowd and a lot less snow. But this is probably the point where you decide you don’t care about my life and don’t even know who I am anyway, so ill leave it at that and tell you why I am writing this blog in the first place, cool? Apologies for the ranting.

Snowboarding is the shit, you know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be on this website. It’s like the most fun thing in the world to do ever. You know this also. You might do it because its easier than skating so you can know what its like to Backlip a handrail or try a Mctwist without dying. Riding powder is retardedly good, like surfing without the fear of drowning or getting ate up by sharks, getting first tracks, landing a new trick is incredibly satisfying, riding with homies all day in the park and getting a beer on the hill after is a killer way to spend a day. You know this.

The point is that I do too, but I had forgotten, so I left it behind for a while, and gradually I started to remember what the hell I had spent 7 years of my life doing and why. For those of you who snowboarding is more than just something to do for a one week a year, try not to get too caught up in the bullshit, and try not to forget why you drove for 4 hours or flew halfway around the world to strap in to a piece of wood and fibreglass in the freezing cold. I’m still a snowboarder, ill be one forever, and while I might not do it as much, ill probably still try it even I my knees have fallen off. My point is you can’t throw something away that easy when it is as good as snowboarding is.

So go ahead and quit snowboarding too, there’s a whole other world out there, millions of things you can do with your life and it will probably do you a world of good, but you’ll be back, just like me.

ps: that all got a bit sentimental there didn’t it? Jesus, I was supposed to just write a quick blog post and it turned into a full blown memoir.

Pps: Throwing tantrums is all well and good, as long as it’s not in the park and because you just got robbed of your first 720 in the backcountry or something. It works for some people just try not to do it in public.

Ppps: Promise the next blog post I put up wont be as “heavy.” I got some funny shit I’ve been saving up.

Have fun kiddies.

Here’s proof that I did actually snowboard back in the day too.

Wanaka NZ, Circa 2004. Photo Johnny McCormack