I never thought I’d end up here, buying a sweet new Capita snowboard of the year, decked out with K2 bindings and Nike boots. Topped off with my Ukrainian roommate’s sweet jacket and my awesome green Burton snow pants. I always figured I’d be somewhere on the coast, hypnotized by the waves, either trying to ride them or just staring at them through a lens.
Surfing was always on my mind. At the age of nine I fell in love with just watching it on tv. As I grew tired of the constraints of sitting down and staring at a box full of images I decided I wanted to be out there instead. My mother feared for my safety, as any good mother would do. So surfing was out of the question. As hard as it is to believe, I was a good kid and never sneaked out to hit the waves.
Instead I grew up swimming in the ocean. Being born into a family of athletes, particularly mermaids, knowing my way through water was essential. My favorite thing to do was swim out to the crashing thunder of the water and many times go past that point. Float around and get tumbled with the current, a good back massage if you ask me. Luckily in El Salvador the sea floor of many beaches is pretty flat and steady for meters to come, so I rarely ever feared for my safety… or sharks. Central America is blessed with lukewarm water, and good visibility; many times I can see my feet no matter how deep I go.
I eventually got tired of not surfing, as much as I simply loved just being in the ocean, surrounded by that salty smell and ocean breeze, I wanted to experience that thrill of catching a wave. So one day, at the age of 21, I finally did it. And boy do I remember it like it was just a few hours ago. I’ll never forget my first wave; the adrenaline rush, the happiness, the pure bliss of gliding over this powerful force of water. I smile now just thinking about it. The last wave I caught I was riding a 7foot rental board. The next wave I catch I hope to be doing better.
An opportunity came at me with the name of South Lake Tahoe. Heavenly to be precise. I’d never really been much of a winter fan: cold and snow means layers of clothing and equipment; the opposite of surfing and coastal living. Just the thought of it made me cringe. I was in for a surprise. Just as I remember my first wave, I remember the exhilarating feeling of flying down a mountain racing my friends to the bottom. It took me a few weeks to get the carving down, icy snow isn’t as forgiving as water. With California’s drought, ice patches became a norm. I learned to love them.
Working at Heavenly Ski School I learned so much more about both sports, getting tips from instructors and simply riding as many days as possible, with as many people as I could. I met some of the craziest and coolest kids from all over the world, loving the same thing and learning just as much as I was. I eventually went to the park and started hitting boxes and jumps, nothing extraordinary, just ollies here and there. Going down double black diamond canyons on the few powder days that we had was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in ages. The fact that id gotten so far in a short period of time filled me with joy.
Injuries are common, especially with difficult snow to work with and the speeds one can reach with ease. I wasn’t an exemption. Here and there friends were breaking wrists and collarbones, getting knee surgeries and separating shoulders. One small concussion set me back about two weeks. That didn’t stop any one of us from trying again and simply enjoying what we love to do. Some call us crazy, I’d rather go with passionate or wild, or simply in tune with life and living it how we love.
Surfing water, or surfing snow, the thrill that is connecting nature with your mind and body at incredible speeds is insurmountable.