Insights from older snowboarders

You may be thinking “Me? On a snowboard? I’m too old!” Listen, though, to some stories of other riders, and you may join your mind. You too, just may become an adult snowboarder. Here are a few excerpts of published accounts of adult learners that Grays on Trays has noted.


“I’ve just become eligible for Social Security benefits, but about 10 years ago my daughter started snowboarding and was too young to do it by herself. I strapped on a board and took lessons with her. Admittedly, it was humiliating and frustrating for a few days, until I got the hang of it.

To my surprise snowboarding has rejuvenated my excitement on the slopes. I can do more with the board than I was ever able to do with skis and with less probability of leg injuries. Besides, it’s pretty “cool” when my boomer buddy and I say to the teens sitting next to us on the lift that our combined age exceeds 120 years, and then we beat them on the way down, getting (not giving) air for show. — Wall Street Journal reader


“My motto: Try everything at least once. So when my 29-year-old daughter, who’s been snowboarding for 10 years, encouraged me to give it a chance, I said yes. … I was a downhill skier for 30 years, but after learning to snowboard, I haven’t touched my skis since. — 46 year old woman.”


“I stayed old school. Why give up years of skiing skills to start over and flop all over the hill? My wife, Sarah, felt pretty much the same way, although she loves any snow sport. Our 13-year-old daughter, Courtney, wanted to snowboard, like most of her friends. That was fine, but I was a skier. … My mind began changing last year, when I saw more people my age — I’m 42 — on snowboards. The bug hit me hard when the snow began to fall and the ski areas opened this winter.”


“It is an exhilarating experience [that] requires speed, skill, and coordination–and the scenery is unbelievable.” — 38 year old pharmaceutical executive.


“I’m 42, just got back from a week in Tahoe. I … can easily see myself riding for the next 20 years.”


“I am a 40-year-old married father of two girls. I rode a snowboard four times last winter, and have now ridden twice in the last month. … I spent most of the evening working my way down a very long and very wide beginner’s hill.

In my previous outing … I found that my major difficulty was in initiating turns. Last night I finally started to put turns together with some confidence.

When I was getting ready to go, another man about my age, a skier with a 10-year-old son on a board, asked “so, did you master the snowboard?” I smiled and shook my head, held up my thumb and index finger two inches apart, and said, “Well, I think I improved a tiny bit.” He said, “Yeah, my son has been watching you all night, and he said ‘Hey, Dad, that guy’s getting better!'”


“After taking a three-day class, I have revised my opinion of the sport and its young devotees. I think they are on to a great secret and should get credit for bringing the sport to the rest of us.”


“I saw a notice offering lessons for this funny snowboarding thing, tried it and I was hooked. … Once you learn to turn, the mountain becomes your playground.” – 40 year old vicar.


“I just couldn’t manage skiing on powder. [But] Now the board just floats on top, and it’s a lot of fun. I just find that snowboarding is easier for me. I love it.” — a 50-year old president of a supply-chain management consulting firm.

8 Responses to Insights from older snowboarders

  1. Shadow Gorrill says:

    I started snowboarding in 1992. My husband saw me having so much fun he switched over too! WE are now 64 and 65. Love talking to the “kids” who snowboard. People love to ask us questions about snowboarding and I have given a number of lessons over the years. I did get certified and taught for 9 years, then when time came to get recert again the young instructor wanted us to do major tricks. There were 4 of us over 55 so we pulled out our AARP cards! WE taught the tricks but did not do them. WE passed. We teach at a boarding school and the students think it is great that their librarian snowboards! And also their Chair of the Science dept.

  2. JJ Bean says:

    I was really wondering how many over-40 boarders were in existence let alone how many who decided over-the-hill meant the backside of the mountain, since I see few at Mt Hood Meadows.

    Skied a couple of times on my dad’s old wooden sticks before I was teen but never really got excited. Since I never had much of an interest, I ignored my wife’s desire each season to give it a try after we moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Portland, Oregon. It took 9 years after moving to Oregon before we gave snow sports a try. My daughter and I were forced into it when my wife bought a bunch of those discounted vouchers. I gave skiing a try but my knees disagreed and tired out quickly so skiing wasn’t turning out to be much fun. I remember mentioning my knee problem to my daughter’s teenage friends but they’d tune out when I pointed out the consequences of abusing your body when you’re young and invincible. My bad knees in some ways turned into a blessing because I was forced to look at snowboarding as an alternative. My knees have never complained since.

    I just finished my 2nd season at 49 on April 21st, about a month before my 50th birthday. I took 5 private lessons averaging around 3hrs per lesson my 1st season. That investment has paid off significantly. I started out spending most of my time on the bunny hill until late in my first season before finally hitting some of the easier blues.

    This past fall I was so motivated I got off my office butt, aka my excuse to do nothing, and hit the gym and made another investment in 30 1-hr training sessions. Lost 30 pounds and 30% of my fat and rebuilt those poorly maintained muscles.

    The cool thing about it is snowboarding is a blast, especially on powder days. My wife now complains (remember she’s the instigator) I’ve gone mad. Folks I know as well make the same kind of comments since I always have snow on the brain and my head as well.

    Here’s what can be accomplished if you’re willing to just do it. Finished my 2nd season on double blacks. Hit the ½ pipe many times and have spent some time in the air hitting small jumps. I have 2 regrets …. First regret is not finding a fellow 50isher that’s as crazy as I am; going solo gets kind of boring. The 2nd regret is not taking up the sport a decade ago when we moved to Oregon.

    Yes my butt was frequently sore from falling but trust me it does go away. So why sit on that office chair all day dreaming. Try snowboarding – you might become addicted. 2nd season and own 2 boards. Planning to buy a 3rd board this fall.

    I’ll be 50 for my 3rd season. On tap for season 3 is some serious time on double blacks, lessons on jumps with a goal of hitting a 360 and if I can convince my wife, a booked trip to Baldface in Nelson, BC for 2015. I was a bit heavy and lazy before I discovered the sport. Now I’m a lean, mean shreddin’ machine all because of the love I’ve found for snowboarding. Started snowboarding at 48 so it’s never too late. If you wonder what I do for a living, I sit on my rear banging on a keyboard all day long as a 15-yr veteran engineer at the world’s largest semiconductor company. The interesting observation I’ve made is my butt is now sore from sitting all day but never hurts from a day “shredding the gnar”. Try it … you may just fall in love with it.

  3. Tracey Upton says:

    Hello All,
    It’s winter here in Australia and I have just finished travelling 3000 kilometers (almost 2000 miles) to New Zealand for some powder action. During the holiday, I improved on my boarding skills, which I began for my 40th birthday, 3 years ago. I have skiied since I was 14 and thought my heaven was found: skiied black, moguls, off piste; skiing was my favourite thing in the world. If I died skiing, i would have died in bliss. But, for my 40th, I thought I’d try something new, and switch over to the’dark side’ and give boarding a go. ok, so I butt planted etc a few times, big deal, but now, I am in love all over again. While I still rip it up with downhill, my new love affair with boarding sees me the first snow bunny up and dressed ready to go! I just cant get enough! I’ll ski in the morning and if the knees get sore, off I o to change to the comfiness of the board…and I can continue enjoying the snow til the last lift ride up. It took me longer to learn how to ski, but I was able to tranfer my ski knowledge and skill (ski contact to snow and edges for turns etc) to quickly transition to boarding. I recommend lessons by a professional though as they give good tips to practice the initial feel of standing on a board and making the first moves/shuffles across the snow.
    If i could have winter everyday, I would because of snowboard joy & bliss!!!

    43 yo junior primary teacher, Mum of 2 (who both ski and board)

  4. Jen says:

    I’m 39 and last season I decided to take snowboarding seriously. I tried it a couple of times in my 20’s but kept falling on my butt so I gave up. Fast forward to April 2012 in Whistler, I decided to take 2 group lessons and managed to go down the easiest green run. My confidence grew and I actually had a ton of fun, and vowed to practice more the following season. 2013/2014 comes around and I purchased my very own snowboard and boots! I was committed. I rode a total of 17 times last season! Mostly at Crystal Mountain near Enumclaw, WA, 3 days in Banff (Alberta) and 2 days in Whistler! By the end of the season, I felt comfortable on the blue runs! I can’t wait for this season! I purchased a season’s pass at Crystal and my husband and I have a ski trip booked for the end of January! We are going to the Nagano region in Japan for more skiing (hubby skies) and riding! Looking forward to riding for the next 30 years!

  5. Marcus says:

    Im 43 and been snowboarding for 20 years, lived in Dillon CO, made the switch to ripping goofy foot, and I’ve never looked back. My daughter is now a snowboarder and loves it. We get out to the mountains as often as we can, it’s our Daddy-Daughter time, and I’ve never been more proud. We love to hit the ironing board at Loveland Pass on a full moon night. Something about being out of bounds is so free feeling.

  6. Micky2Tall says:

    I’m 50 years young. I took up snowboarding at 47. Was the oldest person in my beginners lesson by a good 15 years ! I can’t believe how much fun snowboarding is. I am absolutely hooked. I am from Oz and we don’t get snow like you do in other parts of the world. If we can get 20 days in a season that’s a good year. I have watched so many you tube clips of amazing snow that I have decided to take the plunge and travel to Telluride and Whistler in 2016. Definitely a bucket list moment. Soooooooo excited. So good to find a website that makes me realise I’m not alone out there.

  7. And says:

    Snowboarding has always been marketed as a ‘young’ sport because of the image and advertising opportunities being different from skiing, which had been around much longer in the early 1990’s.

    I caught the wave of it being a new thing in about 1993, and by 1995 I was instructing, by 1997 I had quit my job to go live in the mountains.

    It was always marketed as the next cool thing for misfits, but at the end of the day the equipment cost more than skis and you still had to buy a lift pass! But look at the videos of the time and they would have you believe different.

    Snowboarding is no longer new, it’s just a way of getting down the mountain the same as skiing, the only difference being that it is still perceived as a being a sport for the young. I’ve taught people in their teens and in their 70’s, and still have never tried skiing myself.

    The progess of time dictates that there will always be more older snowboarders from here on. The advertising will always try to make it the cool thing. Without snowboarding, skiing as it is today with the freestyle edge would not exist.

    The main thing is to get out there and enjoy what you can do the best, respect other mountain users, and promote the sport. Ride well whatever your preference and look after your knees !

    I’m now 46 and live in the UK. Friends my age who were drawn to the mountains live all over the world.

  8. Richard Sinke says:

    HI All Shreders

    I am a 64-year-old who has been snowboarding for 25 years and absolutely loves it. I have been to many places Canada, States, Europe but fav is Japan. Amazing powder and it’s got the 80% snow guarantee whereas everywhere else is way down.

    I live in New Zealand where we have many great mountains. We just don’t get enough powder, unless you go heliboarding and that should be on everyone’s agenda to do once in their life. The other is to go to Japan: powder, scenery, honesty and friendliness with many mature skiers and riders. Also a huge number and variety of fields with some megaresorts and some with just one lift.

    I have had a number of injuries and that goes with the territory.

    Currently sitting out the NZ season waiting for knee replacement surgery so I can get back out there again.

    Just love it.

    Richard from NZ

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