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Snowboarding runs in the family, but for how long?

Brandon+Garnsey+%2817%29+snowboards+down+the+Tahoe+mountains.
Brandon Garnsey (17) snowboards down the Tahoe mountains.

Brandon Garnsey (17) snowboards down the Tahoe mountains.

Brandon Garnsey (17) snowboards down the Tahoe mountains.

Brandon Garnsey, Co-editor-in-chief

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For the past several years, the “men” in my family have been road-tripping  to South Lake Tahoe during the winter months to take on the sport of snowboarding and make our run at the mountain.  My father (aka Pops) who is not a “jock” in the traditional sense, has always been an avid surfer and took up snowboarding about a decade ago as an alternative winter sport. He would tell us how free and at peace he felt standing on top of the summit, ready to “shred” down a mountain, freshly dusted with  powder.

 

Today, there seems to be less of that fresh powder and reason to worry about the future of a sport that means so much to our family.  Snowboarding seems to be in jeopardy as a result of climate change and is drastically different than only a few years ago…

 

My connection to the snow and the mountain started when I was about 8 years old. Pops was anxious to get me and my brother, Blake, involved. Back then the draw of the mountains was just the simple thought of playing in the snow. The pure, icy white, “fluffy” stuff, ideal for making snowballs, snowmen and sledding down hills all bundled up and cozy in my snow gear.

 

In 5th grade, on a trip to a local store that sold surf and snow equipment, I was given the opportunity to buy my first snowboard. The styles of the boards were so cool, I really felt like this was a way that I could express my individuality. The package was completed with boots, bindings along with a helmet, goggles and, of course, a cool set of duds. I was excited about the possibilities of spending quality time with my brother and Pops and to explore this now popular alternative to traditional snow skiing.

 

My early attempts at “boarding” were dreadful. I felt like I was in a nightmare with no end in sight. In my first encounter with the ski lift, the trip up the intimidating and steep mountain ended in trauma. As I was lifted toward a seemingly blissful winter playground, I pushed off onto the snow and being the klutz that I am, tumbled face first down the mountain, abruptly halted by a rather massive pine tree.

 

As I lay motionless and stunned, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of small kids,  first-graders at most, navigating the slopes with ease, shredding left to right, looking like miniature versions of Shawn White. I had watched numerous times as my Pops flew down the mountain with ease.  My brother had caught on relatively easily as well. What part of my DNA was missing?

 

Luckily, my  family never gave up on me. We continued to make that journey up to Tahoe, spending time together, making lots of fun memories along the way.  Now as a teenager, I  still love that peaceful mountain vibe and the fun and irreplaceable time spent with “the guys.”  I have finally started to embrace and conquer snowboarding. Each time I head up to the snow, I work a little bit harder, and stumble a little less often — always with constant encouragement from my Pops and brother.

 

Snapping in to my board, riding up the now much less daunting ski lift, I feel a sense of freedom and triumph.  It’s a great chance to have fun and escape the daily grind of homework, tests, and drama that often comes with the high school experience.  No longer a “newbie,” I can really appreciate the snow covered slopes and varied terrain at our park of choice, Sierra at Tahoe.

 

Unfortunately as my interest and love of the sport has grown in the last five to six years, the snow totals in the Sierra Nevada have noticeably diminished. A recent measurement of the snowpack in early March 2015 was recorded at the lowest level since 1991 and furthermore the second lowest since 1950 as recorded by The Department of Water Resources. Two primary reasons for this are the drastically declining amount of rainfall combined with an increase in daily air temperatures. The Tahoe Environmental Research Center reports that the daily minimum temperature has jumped by 4.2 degrees over the past century.

 

This worries me tremendously. Fellow student snow lovers would agree that this lack of cold-rain mixture is ruining one of our beloved sports.  Snowboarding is something I feel  passionate about and with little to no snow, I am unable to practice my hobby. In fact, our beloved Sierra at Tahoe resort actually had to close for the season this past week, a full month ahead of schedule because of mother nature! It makes me think, what will happen if the snowfall continues to decrease.  Will we ever reach a point where snow activities cease to exist?  So far, snowboarding runs in the family, but for how long?

 

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Hunting the News For the Rest of the Pack
Snowboarding runs in the family, but for how long?