Vail Daily letter: The snowboard experience | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily letter: The snowboard experience

Jim Ash
Vail, CO, Colorado

As we celebrate the high school seniors that are about to embark on the challenge of higher education or new careers, the poignant reflection of Harry Kearney’s essay about his experience with snowboarding is worth sharing:

“Before I go into the specifics, the sensation of riding fresh, deep, soft snow has to be explained to the best of my ability. It’s like moving through a soft, forgiving blanket of white that can go so deep it is hard to see in front of myself. Falling can actually be a fun experience; tumbling into oblivion without worrying about hurting myself because it’s so soft. And it’s everywhere. It enables me to be able to jump off 40-foot cliffs if I so please, or to leave a track behind me that is so pleasing to look at it is comparable to a painting on a canvas.

“With this in mind, I’ve spent some of the most wonderful days of my life amidst conditions like these, with a snowboard beneath my feet and a mountain beneath my snowboard. There are postage stamp-sized flakes falling, and the weather is in my home valley so thick it blocks out the sun. Not a sound can be heard riding up the chairlift except for the occasional screams of enjoyment from people having the time of their life in the cloud-shrouded trees and clearings around me. The excitement is building. The utter stillness of nature around me combined with the lack of sound creates a nearly deafening effect; everything seems to be vibrating.

“I am brought back to Earth when I get off the lift. I strap into my board and my mind becomes still. I know what lies before me, and I decide the general path I will take down the mountain. As soon as I begin to move, my thoughts cease to exist. I react to what I see and do whatever I want.

“This, to me, is the essence of true freedom, true liberty. Nothing dictates what I do except for my own reactions to my surroundings. A simple rock or tree or clearing now has evolved into something with potential, something that I may spray with snow or jump off of as big as I can. All the while, I feel so driven to keep going and keep this experience going. There is a feeling that I am the only thing in the world, and I am in touch with everything around me. I can express myself to the fullest of my desire, create whatever I want to out there in the trees on the side of a mountain.

“It is through this clarity, this freedom and this release that I really understand who I am. I am free from the worries of everyday life. I escape the world in every moment I am moving on my snowboard. I am so fortified by the end of the day that nothing can bother me; I achieve a certain happiness and gratification that it cannot be shaken.

“When I return to my life, I can operate in a much more functional manner. Things become easier to understand, mental blockages release, and I am grounded once more. It is through days and experiences like these that I grow as a human being, and I feel so fortunate to have found such an outlet as snowboarding.

“Because of snowboarding, I conquer fears, I learn lessons that apply to everyday life, and I invigorate myself as a human being. I find the beauty in things more easily because I am focused and really put intent into the things I do, experience, and observe. Because of this lifestyle I have chosen to follow, I have discovered myself, and when you discover your own freedom, you discover the true beauty in life.”

By the way, during the Feb. 11-13 Mount Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, Harry became the event’s youngest pro men’s champion at 17. Harry and his older brother, Hagen, train and compete throughout the world in SB events and live in Norwood.

Jim Ash

Eagle


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