The stagnant snowboarder

15 Mar, 2010

Snowboarding has always been about progressing, we’ve come to expect progress from our pro snowboarders to our snowboard equipment but what about ourselves as riders?  Each year I realize that I’ve been riding longer than most of the kids in the park have been alive and this year I questioned my progress, was I really progressing or becoming a stagnant snowboarder?

I have no ambition to wreck myself in rail jams but I want to hold my own in the park and instead of skipping by 90% of the features or resulting to taking photos I wanted to be there able to ride the features just like my friends.  It started last year but this year I really dove into park riding since the snowfall in Steamboat was limited.

Last year I started to ride park but each time I took to the boxes I was freaked out and now looking back on it, I kind of laugh at myself for the fear I had and how much I don’t have that fear on the easy stuff.  The end result was I kind of would hit mini features but not comfortably and I wouldn’t try anything over than 50-50ing.  For some reason the distance a rail off the ground is, would freak me out.

Over the summer I went to Windell’s to write about the adult camp experience and this is where the passion to ride park came to me.  I just wanted to get better and being surrounded by adults that were focusing on riding park as well, helped a lot!  The end result was trying more tricks, being more comfortable and putting myself into the park.

Steamboat isn’t known for parks but this year we have Nick running our terrain parks and he does an amazing job on the mountain.  Now that the passion to ride park came back and myself wanting to progress more, I have fully ventured into park on a year that the powder isn’t coming down all the time.  It’s been such a trip to see myself progress and ride the park, hitting the same features as friends.  I might not be pulling the tricks but I’m starting to play around with them and trying harder features that push my riding.  I’m also hitting ollie on features and trying to ollie on from the side which to me is definitely progress for my riding.

The best part of this is i’ve seen my own progression and I’m really happy/proud of it.  I’m 26 years old and finally venturing into the park again.  I want to ride park and I’m enjoying trying new tricks.  When I head to other mountains, I’ll hit the features and boxes without worry.

So to the other riders out there, what are you doing to not be the stagnant snowboarder?  What helps progress your riding when you’ve hit a wall on the mountain?

About the author


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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  1. ben
    March 15, 2010

    Hey Shay,
    Great topic… I have been trying to ride switch more often… and when I feel that I have plateaued I ride a different board. I take more falls when I switch things up but if you aren’t falling… you aren’t learning. Also the concept of minishred is a great way to freshen things up… ride slow and hit random stuff or ride super fast and pass up those features that you normally hit.
    Thanks for the Windell’s stuff… I am a bit older and have considered at going but am a bit self conscious when it comes to mixing it up with the kids.
    You do a huge service to/for the shred community with this site.

  2. Iain
    March 15, 2010


    Can you post a link to your article about your time at Windell’s? What you’re describing is exactly where I am with riding. I’ve been freeriding for 8 years now, and ride like a bomber most of the time, but I’ve never been much of a park rat. I took 8 weeks worth of “lessons” at my local hill last year, but I didn’t get what I needed out of it to advance my skills. I want to attend a camp like Windells or HCSC, but you rarely hear what the adult experience at these camps is like.



  3. Yessi
    March 15, 2010

    Great entry, Shay. I can definitely relate to your stagnation concerns. I don’t think I’ve ever advanced past my first year of riding, truly, and it has only been this year that it has been eating away at me. After my first major injury ever, I think I’m tamer than ever. 😛 Regression is a better word for me, I suppose.
    I’d love to hit the park and I definitely dig jumps, but I just don’t have the confidence to go kick it with 13-year-olds who seem to be made of elastic bands (?).

    Maybe I should do an adult camp too.

  4. Al
    March 15, 2010

    Love the article, definitely relates to where I am with my riding. I can’t take those falls like I used to, and I’ve found that padding up (wrist guards, helmet, knee pads, and impact shorts) has definitely helped with my confidence in the park. Learning to laugh with the park rats when I bail has also helped.

    On another note Shay, any chance you can hop on a Burton Joystick this season? It seems like the only negative you had on a Hero was the stability, and I’m wondering if the added stiffness of the Joystick takes care of that.

  5. doriux
    March 15, 2010

    well, I consider myself quite young, but for a freestyle snowboarder 22 is a lot, especially when it’s your second year freestyling. I am lucky to have my bpyfriend riding with me, cause he’s always telling me to try this or that, so when I’m doing same stuff for too long he’d just say: no, I’m not filming it, do that. The crazy thing is that I do and land it :). When I notice that myself I choose harder features and ignore my fear or if there’s an adrenaline rush I try to use it and land new trick whyle the “drug” lasts.

  6. March 15, 2010

    Hey Shay, congrats on all your progression so far!

    I’ve had the same problem myself recently. I live behind the lens too much… I’m so busy trying to photograph and video while snowboarding or surfing, that I don’t actually get to ride or surf much myself.

    This past weekend for the very first time in 2 years, I went out boarding without a camera! I made a lot of progress. I need to do that a LOT more 🙂

    Great post.

  7. laz167
    March 15, 2010

    I can relate at 39 years old and in my 3rd year of riding I sometimes feel like im slacking or could be pushing myself more. One thing I can say for myself that it usually takes me about an hour to warmup and get all the muscle memory back. I’ve started riding park this year doing more of 50/50’s and small jumps. But have found myself more attracted to the side hits and little hits. This has been more fun for me and at 30 days this year living in the ice coast I think I have progressed. But next year I’m going all out in the park department.:)

  8. March 15, 2010


    Rad post. Grab a 2″ or wider diameter PVC pipe from any hardware shoppe and an old skateboard to make a balance board; I added straps to my skate and worked my way to jumping right into tricks… most recently b/s 270 on, which I’m excited to take to the hill for sure. Using an old skateboard means you have to land centered between your feet every time, which really dials in proper form. The balance board is an unsung hero of progression in my opinion; it gives you a chance to play with things like shoulder alignment, weight displacement etc. with no consequences.

    And the way I keep things fresh? I make a point to try and find a hidden natural feature every day. It can be something you’ve cruised by every day all season, but sometimes you have to really stop and look at something to realize its true potential.

    Plus pulling something off that you just imagined out of thin air inspires some powerful joy-joy feelings.

  9. Alvaro
    March 16, 2010

    Hi Shay,
    Good post.. I can relate to it. I’m on the older bracket of folks on the hill, will be 42 this year. I think one thing that would have helped me progress in the park was leaving my friends behind and doing the park on my own. They are all about carving and riding pow and not much into the jumps and we usually stick together when we ride which means not going through the park. Last season I went up by myself a couple of times (4 hr drive) and spent the day dorking around and trying jumps. Had lots of fun and I think I learned a couple of things. So in summary, sometimes you have to do your own thing to get better.

    To Al who asked about the Joystick, I have one and I highly recommended. I used to own the Hero which is also a very good deck but the Joystick is better for high speeds. Right now prices are great so it’s a good time to pick one up.

  10. Matty A
    March 16, 2010

    the only way i try to improve is by riding as much different stuff as often as possible and i try and challenge yourself in small steps and novel ways- that lip you normally ollie, do a shifty instead. Dont revert round straight after a 180, ride switch until there is something you can half cab off. ride the lift switch footed (scarier than it sounds). recently i have taken to trying to ride moguls smoothly and efficiently, definitely a challenge on a board but my god it makes the groomed park look tame when you have done a few laps on a bumpy black! as an instructor i often have my kids wanting to learn a trick so i often try and think of a progression for learning it by trying it myself, forcing me to learn the trick. and if they want to learn something easy or just ride, i do it all switch :).

  11. lee
    March 17, 2010

    To cure mine I moved from the small hills in Michigan out to the mountains here in the northwest. Instead of it being a freestyle progression for me though I went the other way to freeride and powder. Having a mountain with cliffs,natural halfpipes,long runs and actual powder can really change your season. I started the year at Baker having never ridden more than a foot of fresh. That day kicked my ass! Had to figure out how to ride, and get up when I would fall. I’ve been riding Stevens regularly the rest of the year and I enjoy it everytime I go. I rarely hit the park anymore. Its just not that big of an intrest. There’s so much more to ride. Secret (to me anyways) banked turns in the trees and runs off the groomers are a blast. And just knowing that I’m that high up on a mountain and coming down it is a trip. Also my gf is just starting to really progress herself. So riding with her and helping her learn and get better makes it fun.

  12. JLD
    March 19, 2010

    I think I saw you at Summit riding the day after the Shakedown. Anyway, I’m 32 and still love the park. Surround yourself with some people that will push you, but move at your own pace and Have fun Shay.

  13. March 19, 2010

    Nice write up- I find that not only an I now seen as an old rider, I still want to see progression from everyone, young and old. This is why the best thing to practice is Switch tricks; which when done properly, are really kewl…but as a rider that has seen more fads then rippers the best way any rider can get better is to do more switch tricks. Start having fun with this trick! HAPPY SHREDDIN’

  14. March 21, 2010

    I put this up during the middle of the road trip and stoked to come back to so many responses!

    For those wanting the original write up about windells with the whole coverage, here’s the link and it links to each day of camp and what we worked on. Gives a good look at the adult camp perspective which is rare to see.

    Ben, totally agree with you on switching the boards up. Some boards make me work a lot harder and some are really easy but i like to switch between them to make me better all-around. With the adult campers at Windells you rarely mix with the kids which was a huge relief for me as well. Your taught with other adults and you play with other adults at camp so it’s a lot more comfortable than being around kids who kick your butt at park, haha.

    Iain, here’s the link for you which describes the adult camp experience at windells for their last session last year. I haven’t been to HCSC but have friends who work there and friends at windells as well. It was definitely a good experience and helped me feel more comfortable in park.

    Yessi, for sure understand that! Definitely had that one year where I just stayed still in my riding but eventually moved past it where I needed to push myself. Maybe try riding with new people and try the tricks they are.

    Al, I have tried the joystick definitely stiffer than the hero but I didn’t think it was as forgiving. I’ll try hopping on it again to give a review, there was a reason it didn’t make it as a review, I Think limited time on it.

    Doriux, that’s awesome you have people to ride with that will help push you and you stomp the tricks when you do them, stoked for you!

    Vancity, thanks! Totally understand the camera thing, you got mucho camera gear and I definitely understand those days where you just want to enjoy it without worrying about taking shots. Stoked I got some of you last year! I’ll be back soon!

    Laz, keep at it! Rad you are getting it!

    Lou, definitely doing the more natural features each time and balance boards are the best!

    Alvaro, for sure. I have a couple friends that don’t want to ride park and I’m not riding with them as much this year because I really do want to ride park. Even if it’s alone…I’m still trying!

    Matty, sick suggestions! I’ve found that I really enjoy riding other mountains parks because I’m used to my park features but I need different ones to make me adjust to them and pick up my riding. Working on the switch and doing more shifties now which I love.

    Lee, it’s rad to see your progression go the other way out of the park. Definitely location makes a huge difference in riding style and where you spent the amount of time riding. Stoked for you getting the powder in!

    JLD, I was riding the day of shakedown but that was it so if you were up that day, probably was me. Awesome you are up and loving the park as well!

    Assi, thanks! Yeah I’m stoked on seeing such a variety of ages in the park from young to old, it’s rad to see people enjoying the shred and trying new things.