Who I am

19 Aug, 2007


So I’ve been blogging for a while but have used my snowboard.com profile to blog my thoughts. I realized that it would be a good idea for me to come and create my own blog on here. I’ll be updating it with my past blogs from snowboard.com and keep posting future posts as well.

So I’m going to introduce myself first and give you an idea of who I am as a person and as a snowboarder.

I am Shannon aka Shay or Shayboarder. The nickname was given to me years ago and it stuck on as a shorter version and really it’s my alter-ego. Either way if you meet me in person, you can call me either name and I’ll answer to both names. Shayboarder has been my name on snowboard.com since the day I joined. You can find me on there as well.

I grew up snowboarding in the Pacific Northwest. My first home mountain was Snoqualmie Pass mostly summit Central and Alpental. In a couple seasons I made my way to Stevens Pass. I was originally a skier when i was younger, but one day at Crystal Mountain I realized that I was a horrible skier and I should try snowboarding to see if it was a better fit….and it was. I can still ski…but I’m still horrible at it. I take out skis once a year to laugh at myself and how glad I am that I switched to snowboarding.

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It’s now been 12 seasons of snowboarding for me. You would think in 12 years I’d be pro or very very good, but there’s been hurdles and really I’m not in it to be the best rider…I’m in snowboarding to enjoy it and have fun.

Definitely part of me snowboarding has been teaching snowboarding. I got introduced to teaching by older friends of my brother and they took me under their wings and drove me to Ski Acres (Yes back in the day) where they taught snowboarding. I got sucked in to the great lifestyle of free season passes and teaching more kids how to ride. Without instructing, my riding probably wouldn’t be what it is now. I probably would never have kept working for the mountains and resorts and probably would have gone on to achieve some great job that my parents always wanted…like lawyer, doctor, teacher…etc. But I did not…and I love where I am at now. I taught snowboarding from the time i was 15 years old to 23 years old. I ‘m 24 now and still a certified instructor but I have graciously stepped off the full time or part time teaching that used to be my life. Now I teach friends or step in to teaching when asked by the mountain or ski schools or coaches at a camp.

I started teaching at a small ski school on Snoqualmie Pass and developed there as a rider and a teacher. I made countless friends and the opportunity given to me there really helped me out. I worked my way up to clinic leader and Training Director for snowboarding for the ski school.

I achieved my level 1 AASI certification and kept it (keeping it is the hardest part in the beginning), I attended clinics like freestyle camp and riding Mt Hood year round (like in the picture).

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I went on to pass my level II AASI certification down at Mt Bachelor. I was the only female in my group and managed to show enough teaching and riding skills to prove I was a level II instructor. Most Training Directors have to be Level III but I managed to make it as a TD even though I was level II. As a Training Director I went to TD training with many great riders and examiners, this really pushed me in terms of riding and as a female rider to step up and ride with the men. Soon after I was training for my level III certification and hoping to become a female examiner for AASI.

I committed myself to make the 03-04 season the year I achieved those goals and work my way up. Unfortunately…things changed.

Anyone who spends a lot of time on the mountain will come to realize that knee injuries and knee surgeries are inevitable. The more time you are out there, the more risks you take in riding, the more likely you will blow your knee out sometime in your riding career. I blew out my ACL and tore my meniscus when I was 20 years old riding Stevens Pass about 10 days into the 03-04 snowboard season. I landed a jump in the terrain park on the knuckle and the second that I landed with my weight forward on my lead knee (left knee)…I heard the popping sound and felt my knee give out. I sat on the side of the jump out of the way and tried to stand up…when I couldn’t put any weight on my knee without it giving out, I fell back down and cried…my season was done and I knew I’d be seeing a knee surgeon very shortly. It was devastating to me at the time. I had been working so hard those first 10 days into the season to make this season my best riding season, my season of achieving my level III certification and the year to step it up…and it was all gone down the drain because of one jump.

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I spent the New Year awaiting knee surgery and received it in early January 2004. I spent most of that first six months going through physical therapy and getting my knee back in shape. You’d be amazed how much muscle you lose in your leg during knee surgery. I didn’t get back on the slopes until October 2004 at Mt Hood. This photo is me on the beginner hill at Timberline and me the first day on my snowboard re-learning how to ride.

It was tough but a lot of it was mental and once I got back…it came back pretty quickly. Even years later, I have fears of injuries and re-injuring my knee again…but it is stronger now.

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Since having knee surgery and my riding having to downgrade a bit from where I was at…I had to re-think my goals of level III and being an examiner. After knee surgery the goal seemed farther away. I kept teaching but also considered other jobs with the mountain that would allow me to enjoy the perks but still keep the job in case of injuries. I then started to step back into riding and pushing myself again.

About 2-3 seasons ago, I started to get heavily into riding more boards. I had always borrowed boards or rode demo’s every now and then…but this time I got into riding all the latest tech and becoming more knowledgeable in snowboard gear. It also helped with an influence from an ex-boyfriend who worked at snowboard shops and pushed me to know what I was riding. I started to own and ride more boards, understanding the difference between boards and really diving headfirst into helping people on the internet with picking out snowboards that suited them.

I started to attend SIA in 2006 and focused on seeing new gear, meeting other industry people and really getting myself a reputation online in snowboard forums as someone who knew what they were talking about. I didn’t work for any shops, I rode boards that I liked and offered my opinion on boards I’d rode. It was my online persona and opinions that got me test riding for companies as well. At SIA 2007 I got recognized by a snowboard company owner (which was a shock in itself that someone who owned a company would value my opinion on their company boards) and this took off into being a test rider for the company and offering my opinion on the boards. I also got set up with a up and coming womens board company to give my opinion on the boards and see if there were any construction changes to make to them…I did this with open arms even though I have rode mostly mens boards most of my boarding life.

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So that was the start of recognizing that my name Shay does have influence…as a rider and someone to listen to. Not that I’m always right or that my opinion means everything…it doesn’t and I’m the last person to think highly of myself. I am confident that my opinion is good but i do not mean it is a fact. I’ve received criticism for my opinions, those who are weary of me or enjoy putting me down. I’ve been hurt before and because I’m open to criticism I can take it. I’m still here and that makes me stronger.

Now I’ll comment on the girl issue. I’m a female snowboarder (a fembot is my favorite). I grew up riding with guys since day one. I can count on one hand the female snowboard partners I ride with…because most of my riding partners are guys. It’s a male dominated sport and I enjoy it. Riding with men pushes me as a rider and I’ve found that some female riders mostly the snowbunny’s are into snowboarding for other reasons. I enjoy riding without being treated like a girl on the mountain. I enjoy being pushed and given the “tough love” rules of riding. I don’t like being babied on the mountain or having a boyfriend around on the mountain. I go snowboarding with friends not boyfriends. I’ll talk more about this in another blog…dive deeper into the meaning behind it.

I am in no way a snowbunny or girly-girl. I do not wear make-up snowboarding, I do not snowboard because of a boyfriend, I do not hang out in the lodge all day, I do not ride the easy stuff to look good, I do not care more about how I look and which guys hit on me on the mountain. I’m not one of those girls. I’m the girl that rides with the guys, keeps up riding with them and blends in with the guy riders. I’m the girl who laughs at the snowbunny’s that are fiddling with their looks or sitting halfway down a run looking cute.

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I’m also a curvy girl. I’m not tiny in any way, I have hips and boobs and have always been a curvier girl. I’ve found that mens boards suit my riding, suit my weight and suit me better than womens boards. I do ride womens boots and bindings because those are the best for me. I have womens feet and legs…but the weight to back up a mens board. Years ago when I was teaching snowboarding, I had a young female group who complained that they couldn’t get up on heelside because they had big butts. I told them I was bigger than them (which was true, they were tiny girls) and that I could do it…so I knew they could do it.

With snowboarding there is progression, I progressed to who I am today…with some hurdles, some triumphs and a lot of fun days on the mountain snowboarding.

That is who I am. I’m just another girl on the mountain.

About the author

Shay

From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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