No (Boy)friends on a Powder Day


by Rachel Cotton

One of the only universally respected rules in mountain living is “no friends on a powder day,” meaning it’s standard practice to wait for no one and leave all dead weight behind to get fresh tracks. When you meet up with your lazy and hung-over friends après snowboard style, they won’t hold it against you that you ditched them (and possibly work) to get face shots all morning. That’s The Rule.

I propose that under the relatively anarchistic laws of shred life, extending “no friends” to cover significant others seems almost natural. At surface value, The Rule basically justifies ditching your boyfriend to ride powder in Colorado for a week, and he has little reason to be bummed out by your ideal vacation. Because he doesn’t snowboard, though, he’ll never quite understand the “no friends” policy–even after a delicate explanation, coupled with tales of your most epic days out on the hill. Like your mood swings, inability to be a morning person and aversion to doing dishes, The Rule is just another condition of loving you that he’ll have to learn to accept.

Couples. Although we could all do without public displays of chairlift affection, there is definitely something endearing about two people chasing each other down the mountain on snowboards, pushing each other to try new tricks, following each other’s lines through the woods and just being together while doing something they love. While they can be obnoxious when vacationing, entire families that snowboard are also very cool. However, it’s far more common to see moms sitting in the lodge reading all day then to see dads waiting by the fire for the return of their flush cheeked kin.

This photo is entitled “Brooke in Pow” not “Rachel in Pow,” but you get the idea. Photo: John Geery

We’ve all heard the shpiel about hundreds of years of female oppression. But to this day the double standard for female snowboarders is multifaceted. Prize money, progression, the battle of beautiful vs. butch and lack of recognition for equitable talent have been covered extensively in different media. A major aspect of life as a female snowboarder that lacks legitimate coverage, however, is dating.

Men, boys, dudes whose lives actively revolve around “rebellious subcultures”–punk rock, skateboarding, body modification, adrenaline rushes of different flavors–have their choice of mates, to a large extent. Bad boys are “in,” and anyone from sorority chicks to models to completely, ordinary nice preppy people have probably dabbled in either a real life relationship or a fantasy with some sort of bad boy. “Bad girls,” for lack of a better term, tend not to have as much leeway. Yes, many bad boys probably love for their partners to share some of their passions–snowboard, listen to indie rock, drink beer–and do actively pursue bad girls in their respective subcultures from time to time. When it comes to “normals” going the other way and showing more than a superficial interest in bad girls, however, the pendulum doesn’t swing quite so far. While bad girls tend to be stuck with a dating pool mostly full of bad boys, bad boys seemingly have a much larger pool to explore.

On a certain website, a certain person claims that her goal is to “make out with a dude from every extreme sport.” Here she is, clearly blowing off all of them at once. Photo: John Geery

Unbelievably enough, after dating snowboarders, aspiring rock stars and a host of other weirdos and misfits, I usually felt like there was something missing. Yes, we had a bunch of superficialities in common–perfect at surface value–but a deeper connection was lacking.

As luck would have it, I have managed to settle down with somewhat of a crossover bad boy in the past year. He wears a shirt and tie to work, scarves, wool coats and dress shoes but also appreciates Black Sabbath, black t-shirts and obscure independent films. Most importantly, while we’re not twins, we compliment each other well and have a deep and meaningful relationship as a result. He doesn’t snowboard, but I love him anyway. I also love him as much as I love snowboarding, which, as we all know, is huge.

Unfortunately, the confines of the perfect-life-together-in-the-mountains fantasy sometimes prove too stifling to be satisfying. Regrettably, I can’t partake in the activity I love most with the person I love, which simply means I have to split my time between them–a notion that I’m sure seems ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t understand it. In the same vein, those who question the respectfulness of leaving your partner at home to ride powder obviously aren’t snowboarders.

In our own lives, many of us require the freedom to nurture all of our passions to the fullest; we are forced to pick and choose among them, and to prioritize them accordingly. From the age of 13 on, snowboarding has been something that I simply cannot push to the side. When not trying to be a poster child for stable, adult relationships in the mid 20s, I’m still a thrill seeking, self-satisfying shred at heart. For those who hear me and understand, this is a proclamation that The Rule officially excludes boyfriends on a powder day. Don’t be afraid to follow it.