The editor

Grays on is published by a team lead by John LaPlante, a freelance writer.

LaPlante race photo

He is a member of the National American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA), and the president of its Midwest region. 


He also has worked as a snowboard instructor at a resort in the Midwest.

Everybody’s going Snurfing, Snurfing USA
John grew up in western Michigan, one of the homes of snowboarding. He even had a Snurfer, such as this one.


But he never spent much time on the Snurfer. It was too hard to control, even though it was an improvement on this:

The banana snurfer

The white dots you see in the first photo were raised bumps that served as the “bindings” of the day. The yellow Snurfer had staples for riders to stand on.

Mountain fun or grad-school methodology?
In 1993, his father-in-law invited him to a ski trip to Colorado. Rather than accept this generous offer, John decided to stay home and attend the new term in graduate school.

Looking back, he asks, “Misplaced priorities, what can I say?”

When another invitation came up a few years later, he grabbed it. After taking some ski lessons, he was skiing a green run from mountain top to base at the end of the third day. Snowboarding was so foreign to the family that he did not even think about trying it.

On return trips to Colorado, John progressed to taking on some black diamond runs.

Winter happens. What will you do about it?
A job change and a move later, took him to Minnesota, a land of much cold and long winters. Fortunately, his new house was close to a popular, but tiny day area, which made snow sports a natural. But as you can imagine, skiing in a small space quickly lost its excitement. Snowboarding then came to the rescue, spicing up the winter scene.

I’m not 15 anymore. Can you write to my level?
John started looking, in libraries and on the web, for information that would help him understand the equipment, biomechanics, and other key features of snowboarding: How does it work? What are the basic concepts? What kind of equipment is out there? Is there more than one way to ride a snowboard?

Most of what he found, however, was either juvenile, written for 8 year olds, or adolescent, appealing to 15-year olds, whose interests, language, and approach to life is in most cases quite different from those of adults. If you have teenagers, or have been one, you’ll understand.

Figuring that he was not the only person in this situation, John decided that it was time to create a site geared for grown-ups. To serve the needs of older riders curious about snowboarding, he created the Grays on Trays web site in 2003. He added the Grays on Trays blog in October 2004, and the Grays on Trays discussion board in November 2004. Of course after that came Facebook, Twitter, and the like.

The response to has demonstrated that there is a role for web sites dedicated to introducing adults to snowboarding and bringing grown-up snowboarders together in this exhilarating sport.

From student to teacher
His story of learning to ride may be similar to your own. In time he became a snowboard instructor and a member of the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. Though he no longer teaches, John has a passion for introducing older adults to the sport.

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