February 1, 2004
Surfing The Slopes
“It is an exhilarating experience [that] requires speed, skill, and coordination–and the scenery is unbelievable,” says Biff Wayne Clark about his snowboarding adventures atop 9,000-foot-high mountains and snow at least knee deep.
Clark, a pharmaceutical executive for GlaxoSmithKline, was introduced to the sport by friends who retired from skiing to pursue a new rush. “The new snowboarding craze seemed a little more fun and the clothes were cooler,” says the 38-year-old who lives in Arlington, Virginia. “From the minute I stepped on the board, I took to it like a fish to water.”
Clark snowboards eight to 10 times a year. His travels have taken him to Lake Tahoe, California; British Columbia; and the Dolomites in northern Italy. He also belongs to Capitol Ski, a Washington, D.C., ski club for African Americans that organizes one or two large outings a year as well as social activities during the off-season. This summer the club plans to head south to Chile.
Trips can range from $500 up, says Clark, depending on the location and duration of the stay. His eight-day trip to Italy cost $1,700.
Today Clark owns two snowboards–one for traditional surfaces and another designed for freestyling. He hopes to eventually snowboard down the mountainsides of the French Alps. Of his experiences Clark says, “You meet a lot of great friends and see a lot of great places. The true adventure is in the experiences.”
SURF THE WEB. OnTheSnow.com is a great place to find general information on snowboarding events and equipment.
VISIT A SKI/SNOWBOARDING SHOP. Experts in winter sporting stores can best equip the beginner. You can expect to pay in excess of $100 for a basic snowboard. Clarke says many stores run promotions offering discounted courses with rented equipment. “You will definitely need to go through some type of course that will help you understand the fundamentals of snowboarding.” It took him two lessons to learn how to manage a snowboard.
JOIN A CLUB. There are many African American ski clubs throughout the country. The National Brotherhood of Skiers Website (www.nbs.org) can provide information on clubs in your area.