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Snow attracts boarders despite injury

In the 1960s, a man named Sherman Poppen started the snowboarding craze with the invention of the Snurfer. Over the next decade, Jake Burton, Demetrije Milovich and Tom Sims designed the more specialized and refined board designs used today.

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) recently reported a record number of 58.9 million national skier/snowboarder visits for the 2005/06 season. This is up 3.5% from last season.

“To start snowboarding was difficult for me,” Jessica Mesple, ’09, said. “I have skied my whole life so switching was hard.”

Most students boarders go to Sierra Summit, the closet mountain resort to Fresno. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 A.M.- 4 P.M. Special weekend options and holiday offers end March 11.

“With the park open at 9 A.M. it gives me more than enough time to snowboard,” Christine Brenner, ’07, said, “but I think the tickets are a little pricy.”

Lessons are available to any age range in group or private lessons. Group lessons cost $29 (ages 4 and up), and private lessons cost $85 per hour regardless of age.

“It is fun to take lessons with a group of people rather than alone,” Landon Martens, ’10, said. “If you do not have an idea or sense of snowboarding I recommend the lessons, but if you do know then just get up there and ride.”

Every Sunday, Sierra Summit offers middle and high school students a discounted lift ticket for $20. For the other six days of the week, and ages above or below middle or high school, a lift ticket costs $35.

“I think it is a good idea because by the time you rent all your equipment it can be expensive,” Martens said. “But I also think it would be better if it was on a different day such as Saturday.”

With 10 different courses, practice areas are spread around the mountain.

“I started snowboarding because I thought it looked cooler and I became motivated to try it,” Mesple said. “After years of snowboarding I have never really hurt myself badly but the hardest part for me was going too slow and getting caught on a groove and falling.”

On average, serious injuries due to skiing/snowboarding occur at the rate of 44 per year. According to the NSAA, after the 2005-06 season, 57 serious injuries occured. 37 of the 57 were ski-related (31 males, 6 females), and 20 were snowboard-related (all males).

Due to these statistics, NSAA offers safety tips for preparation as well as safety on the slope.

“Snowboarding feels like you are getting hit with a baseball bat over and over again,” Michael Prentice, ’08, said. “Even though I fell a lot it was fun to go fast and fly off jumps.”

Regardless of experience, one must use caution due to surrounding boarders.

“I went off a jump and a 7-year old kid went in from of me,” Michael Raymer, ’09, said. “I went to the side and hit a tree. I tore a tendon in my knee.”

Although Raymer snowboards regularly, this was his first injury in four years.

“It doesn’t matter that I got injured,” Raymer said. “I enjoy snowboarding and I’ll go back out there next year.”

Mesple believes practice is the only way to improve and a beginner should not be afraid to take a fall.

“Improvement depends on the difficulty of the task on hand,” Mesple said. “When I go on jumps, I attempt them but it never works the way I plan. I still try, though. It kind of hurts if you mess up, but it is definitely worth trying.”

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