9 Things Only UK Snowboarders Will Know The Pain Of

Any of these sound familiar?

Will Radula-Scott experiencing a somewhat more literal pain. Photo: Dan Medhurst

There’s a certain British tradition of self-deprecating acceptance when it comes to winter sports, and particularly those that involve both cold weather and the mountains.

Even in the face of recent successes in snowboarding, it’s easy to feel that the path towards the often-unattainable level of riding we aim for is made unnecessarily hard by our circumstance – namely the fact that we rarely see snow, and when we do our choices for spots to ride are limited (with the exception of Scotland, we’re not exactly overflowing with vast mountain ranges over here).

“The path towards the often-unattainable level of riding we aim for is made unnecessarily hard by our circumstance”

But here’s where we meet another great British pastime – gritting our teeth and battling through it, even when it seems like we’re on the losing end of the fight…

These two streams of consciousness locking horns while simultaneously fighting with a third; the hope that somewhere out there, we might get a glimpse of the snowboarding we’ve seen on our screens; or – if we’re lucky – have already experienced.

No doubt, many of you can sympathise with the situation – there’s a certain commonality to living permanently on these Isles and sharing the same passion that we do.

So if you’ll excuse the listicle titling (hey, you clicked on it…) we thought we’d round up a few of the problems faced by the common UK shred-head. How many of these sound familiar to you?

1) Trips That Fail Due To Weather

So you’ve been saving all year and planning your trip away for ages – only to have it piss down with rain; or you get to resort and there’s barely any snow…

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. This might not be exclusively a British complaint, but when it does happen we tend to feel that the gods are against us.

On the plus side – we’re usually pretty aware of the risks when we book nowadays. If you’re struggling, try Ed Leigh’s guide ‘How to Ride Powder Every Time You Go Away’.

2) Under-Used Gear

Gentem Sticks can cost a pretty penny – but they’re not for everyday use…

There’s a certain sense of guilt you get when you open up your storage spot of choice, only to feel the glare of a bit of unused gear.

Those goggles you bought before a period when you could only ride dome; a powder board that is yet to grace the white fields of Japan; avalanche safety gear (and training) when all you’ve had is mediocre piste to ride – they all had so much promise when you put down the investment…

But don’t give in and flog them off to some second-hand buyer – you were a dreamer once, and you can be again!

3) Keeping Up With The ‘Lucky Ones’

Keeping up with alpine-based friends isn’t just about speed – chances are they’ll outshine you in many areas

If you spend the majority of your time on a trip desperately trying to keep up with your friends who’ve wangled a full time relocation to the mountains – chances are you’re a resident of the British Isles.

As a nation we’re a great exporter of snowboarding enthusiasts – and for those of us left behind, every expat in our friendship group makes the stay-at-home experience all the more painful.

The obvious solution – if possible – would be to up sticks and join the Alpine party. Come to think of it, why haven’t we all done that already?

4) Lift Pass Prices

Aside from the reality that lift passes can leave you bankrupt – the fact that a 2 hour dome pass and a half day pass at resort cost roughly the same is torturous.

As much as we appreciate the hard work of our indoor-snow generating teams and dryslope warriors – we can’t help but imagine that situation where we live a little closer to the mountains, and don’t have to fork out for accommodation.

5) Mountain Fitness

Mountain-born kids always have the fitness advantage – but there’s no accounting for how they use it…

The bane of all people who are geographically juxtaposed against their passions. The fact is that for 99% of you, your mountain fitness will never be as good as kids that have grown up at high altitude.

Smarmy little bastards.

6) Your Local Spots

John Weatherly makes the most of a dump near Leeds circa 2011. Photo: Ian Ashmore

You’ll see them. You’ll picture what could be done if only there was snow. But then you’ll have to wait years for a decent UK snowfall…

It’s Sod’s law – and whoever he was, he clearly didn’t like us very much.

N.b. for more on the UK Urban assault try this piece, and always be prepared!

7) Bemused Pedestrians

At one point – or, more likely, many – you’ll find yourself confronted by a blank faced member of the public staring at your snowboard and asking a) what it is, b) where you’re taking it or c) why you’re carrying one around when it’s not snowing.

They probably won’t have a sense of humour, and they will keep talking to you until you find an excuse to leave.

8) Public Transport

Closely linked to Bemused Pedestrians – public transport is an especially macabre prospect for snowboarders on their way to and from snowboarding events.

Packed and sweaty at even some of the most obscure times of day – the day-to-day users are unlikely to understand your need to carry an unreasonably large board or bag, and in your irritable state, you’ll probably be a little short with them too.

Just remember that if you do have to travel heavily laden – your sense of humour can actually act as an override switch for potentially grim encounters. I.e. don’t be a dick, and you’re less likely to piss off the entire carriage.

9) Inadequate Skate Conditions

Many of us turn to the four-wheeled alternative to snowboarding in the summer months, but regardless of the season, the UK can be an equally shit spot to skate in.

At those times when you’d usually skate to alleviate the snowboard craving, but it’s cold and wet out, and everywhere undercover is bluddy closed or waterlogged – it can be hard to keep your spirits up.

Unfortunately we don’t have many solutions for this one – just remember if it’s chilly and soggy where you are, it’s probably snowing somewhere!


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