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COLUMN: Living on the edge — snowboarding style (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 3/31/23

Senior activities are not all kittens and butterflies. Some of my followers have expressed how active they are and that they would like something more challenging and physically demanding. See the video in the column.

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COLUMN: Living on the edge — snowboarding style (VIDEO)


Senior activities are not all kittens and butterflies. Some of my followers have expressed how active they are and that they would like something more challenging and physically demanding.

Not that I want you to break your hip, so don’t by the way, but here is an activity that is truly challenging and demanding if you have reached your 50s, 60s, or older. It’s not too late in the season and the temperatures are actually a little nicer right now to start learning how to snowboard.

This activity involves falling. I am talking falling a lot, and the snow is not always as fluffy as it seems. However, it is still a fun sport. I decided to learn it while I was in my 60s, as it is easier on my knees than skiing, and I continue to enjoy it every winter.

(See more in this video from Clifford Crandall.)

Here is that living on the edge activity that can be taken literally. To stay up and in control of your speed and direction, you must be on the front or back edge of the board. If you go on the full flat underside of the board, you’ll wabble, sway and fall. To be on the back edge is to be on the heel, and to be leaning forward on the front edge is to be on the toe. Heeling is what you do first, and it is also great because this is the most common way of braking or coming to a solid stop and leaning backwards to sit on your butt. That’s one reason why you see snowboarders sitting on the side of the hill with their front edge facing down the hill.

Once a boarder has learned to brake with their heel by standing up on the board and plowing down the hill with the back edge as they build up a pile of snow under their board, they can now start to leaf. Leafing means staying on the back edge of the board with a little more weight on your right foot to go to the right, and then your left foot to go to the left. You zigzag down the hill like a leaf falling from a tree. One thing to keep in mind — you are successfully cutting everyone off as you go while being totally unaware they are behind you at the same time.

Are we having fun yet? Oh yeah. And making friends? Oh yeeeahhh. Beginner snowboarders are a blast, I was one and now I stay clear of them. I know for you skiers, and for a time I skied, so I understand that it is frustrating when snowboarders come across and seem to cut you off as if they never saw you. Well, they didn’t see you. It is not that they didn’t look, it’s more that they cannot easily look over their shoulder. Some of the young, quick, and flexible boarders can take a quick look up the hill but most will simply fall down and crash in front of you if they look back.

Now the next challenge after leafing is to toe. This is a little (okay — a lot) scarier. You are now facing up the hill with no real way to look down the hill — only up the hill and in the direction that you are going. Also, leaning back means you fall backwards and most likely tumble down the hill until you come to a stop, which you are seldom in control of. To go from heel to toe, for a moment you must transition by pointing your board down the hill and for an uncertain moment you’re on the flat of the board, which is where I told you not to be. Oh well.

Before investing in your own board, I would suggest you rent the equipment and take a lesson on the bunny slope. Once you can stay up and ride the board to the bottom of the hill, you will find this activity invigorating and an adrenaline high. I do not do black diamond hills or moguls although my wife will. Dress warm and prepare to be in the snow and be wet by the end of the day. I definitely advise wearing a helmet and I also wear wrist guards, both of which have saved me from some serious injuries. Wrist injuries are very common.

Snowboarders tend to fall backwards and as a result, put their hands behind them to break the fall, which is why wrist guards are good to have. This activity is exciting, a definite workout that uses your mind and when you make it down the hill, it will put a big smile on your face. Don’t forget to have a nice mug of hot cocoa at the end of the day, you will have earned it.

For more activity suggestions, go to

Keep in mind: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” (Mark Twain)


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