Student snowboarding flying high
By Jay Huang
Snowboarding, which once struggled for mainstream acceptance, has now gained immense popularity with people of all ages, size and race, much like the Western Snowboarding Federation.
Four years ago club president Dan Christian approached the clubs office about starting a snowboarding club. Christian was told to talk to the ski club about trying to set something up with them. When Christian approached the ski club, they were repulsed by the idea of forming a snowboarding club and basically wanted nothing to do with them.
"That experience was like giving me a loaded gun," Christian said. He promptly went back to the clubs office and explained the situation and demanded the birth of the Western Snowboarding Federation.
Since then the snowboarding club has exploded in popularity boasting over 150 members last year and is currently the largest snowboarding club of any university in Ontario.
To the unaware, snowboarding might seem like a sport for rebellious teenagers or drugged-out adolescents. It was given a black eye at the Winter Olympics in Nagano with the Ross Rebagliatti scandal. Christian, however, maintains this was not a fair representation of snowboarding, with many of the top boarders not attending. They did not agree with the qualifying rules and did not want to be forced to conform to rules decided by the International Olympic Committee.
Snowboarding is a sport that has no dividing lines with people of all ages becoming involved. Christian recalls a situation at his shop where a mother came in to buy a snowboard so that she could participate with her son.
"Snowboarding is very liberating and it's not as regimented as skiing," Christian said.
Second-year science student and novice snowboarder Jason DeHaan said he "was attracted to snowboarding because it was the closest thing to wakeboarding and you can't wakeboard in the winter." The crossover attraction is the reason many people get turned onto snowboarding.
The Western Snowboarding Federation has riders of all caliber with many of their members licensed to train beginners.
The are several different styles of snowboarding. The most popular style seems to be freestyle. This style includes riding the half pipe and various different man-made terrain. Another popular style is the free rider style, which includes steeper terrain and makes use of the entire mountain.
The popularity of snowboarding can be credited to many different factors. Television is probably the largest single factor with extensive coverage on both TSN and ESPN.
Christian warns that snowboarding is not a fad. "The wave is not over yet, in fact it is just beginning. Snowboarding has not yet reached its peak."
The Federation has affiliations with various snowboarding companies such as Simms and Burton which help sponsor some of the club's outings. The club is planning a trip to Mont Tremblanc this year and plans for an Ontario Snowboarding Association inter-university meet are in the works.