“No coach, no clock, no referee can tell you when it’s over; it’s up to the rider to decide when the day is done.”
My first time on a snowboard was on a small backhill in Minnesota. At the time, I was really into skateboarding and had seen a feature on snowboarding in a magazine. The first run I took was on a kids’ Burton Cruise 135 in my backyard. I was instantly hooked.
Since then, snowboarding has become more than a sport or a profession — it’s really a way of life. Snowboarding is about the passion of the community and the fleeting moments of sheer bliss that don’t exist in any other type of activity I’ve tried. Simply put, snowboarding sets me free. It encourages me to let go of any worries and simply live in the moment — to be totally present in the act of riding my board.
One of the most memorable rides so far was in Alaska. My crew was staying on Thompson Pass outside of Valdez with Alaska Snowboard Guides, a heli-skiing and boarding group. One morning, we picked a zone that hadn’t been riding yet that season due to some gnarly exposure of glaciated terrain — and lots of fresh snow. Just before I dropped in, one of the guides yelled to me that I was the “slope-tester” for stability, meaning my run would indicate whether an avalanche might occur. That exhilarating (and terrifying) feeling of high risk and an unknown outcome stayed with me until my third turn. The run was long — about 2,500 vertical feet — and each turn at the top kicked off clouds of sluff snow that eventually formed a large avalanche. I was in a “no fall” zone, working my way down and across the slope, as the avalanche cascaded off a 300-foot glaciated serac. I spotted a perfect windlip off an adjacent cliff and even caught some air doing a method, while beside me the snow was coursing down from the avalanche. The overwhelming feeling of adrenaline combined with safe execution of my line was incredible! It was a “taste death to live life” kind of moment for me that is imprinted in my memory.
“…meaning my run would indicate whether an avalanche might occur.”
I think snowboarders of every level share a unique mentality of independence combined with a free spirit. Snowboarders also strive for progression: the sense of accomplishment that comes with challenging yourself, testing your limits and incrementally improving. On the mountain, we are constantly surrounded by ever-changing conditions, which forces us to respond, adapt and improve.
Snowboarding has grown up in so many ways since I started riding. Over the last couple of decades, the mainstream has embraced the sport and enabled it to shine. It’s all about experiences, friendships, progression, passion and fun. Over the next decade, I think snowboarding will continue to cement its spirit into the hearts of people around the world. No coach, no clock, no referee can tell you when it’s over; it’s up to the rider to decide when the day is done.
My advice for new snowboarders? Remember to look around you, and don’t forget how awesome it is simply to be out in nature. Surround yourself with positive friends, and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Try to remember that the first few weeks of learning to ride are the hardest, and it will only get easier. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make, both personally and physically.
Hometown: Salt Lake City
5 things Bjorn brings to the mountain: Goggles, coffee, gloves, cell phone and friends
Gear hack: Goggle maintenance is key — if you don’t have good vision, your experience will suffer.
First snowboarding idols: Craig Kelly and Noah Salasnek
Favorite base layer: Under Armour 2.0 ColdGear
— As told to Erica Bellman
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RIDE