The Snowboarding Soul

The Snowboarding Soul (Amelia Belobradic snowboarding, 2016)

The Snowboarding Soul

My History with Snowboarding

I started snowboarding back in 1993. I probably should have started a year or two sooner when I was living in Vancouver and was first introduced to the sport, but 1993 was the year that I made the switch from skis and bought my first snowboard. After 20+ years, needless to say I have never looked back.

Mike Belobradic Snowboarding in 1995

A photo of me in my third season snowboarding. This photo was taken at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, 1995. I loved that vintage Burton Air.

Back in the early days, not every ski hill allowed snowboarding. It was still seen as a new sport and many skiers and ski hill operators didn’t like the way that snowboarders used the terrain. As a result, the relationship between skiers and snowboarders was a little strained at times. Skiers weren’t quite sure what to make of this new sport and they probably weren’t too happy about having to watch out for snowboarders, whose riding style appeared to be unpredictable (compared to skiing). Also, the snowboard culture and style were foreign to the ski culture. Since then, however, ski manufacturers ultimately adopted (somewhat ironically) the snowboard shape and style for their skis and the general culture and outerwear have begun to blend. An interesting fact is that ski sales had been on the decline until snowboarding came along and re-ignited the industry overall.

As a long-time skateboard kid and then surfer (whenever the opportunity presented itself), making the jump to snowboarding was a natural for me. I loved snowboarding and the infectious energy that was all around within the boarding community. It was fun to be on the leading edge of this new and quickly growing sport through such a period of growth and innovation. Each year there were new developments in equipment as snowboard companies jockeyed to make their mark (advancements and trials were happening more frequently than they do in the more established market that we have today). It was still a bit of the wild west in the early ’90s and it was pretty fun to be part of an industry that was finding its way in what was truly a fast-growing industry.

360 Spins Magazine is Born

As a creative and marketing type, I wanted to do my part to contribute to the sport during this period of growth. One thing that I saw was the need for an independent publication that would serve as a news and information voice for the local snowboard (and later, skateboard) community at the grassroots level in Ontario. So in the mid-1990s I founded and began publishing 360 Spins Magazine. What started as a small photocopied leaflet with limited distribution ultimately grew into an international snowboarding and skateboarding publication. You can read more about the history of 360 Spins here.

To this day — over 20 years later — I still love snowboarding and make every effort to get out riding with my family every weekend all winter long.

Amelia Belobradic Snowboarding Lessons, Age 4

Amelia started snowboard lessons at Caledon Ski Club at age four. At the time she was the youngest person to start snowboard lessons at the club. Pictured here is four-year-old Amelia with her coach in January 2013.

Amelia Rides

Speaking of snowboarding with the family, after Amelia (our daughter) was born, I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to strap in and head down a hill. When she was two years old I started pulling her around the yard on a little Burton Chicklet with the Riglet rope. I wanted to get her used to the sensation of the snowboard and I also wanted to see if she enjoyed it.

I wouldn’t have forced her into snowboarding if she really didn’t like it, but I have to admit that I was really hoping that she would love it. Fortunately, she did and she does.

It wasn’t until Amelia was four years old that we first enrolled her in snowboard lessons at our ski club. She seemed to want to try snowboarding versus skiing and so I was naturally happy to oblige. At the time, she was the youngest person at our club who had started snowboarding lessons and for the first couple of years her “group” lesson turned out to be a private lesson, since she was the only one in the class.

Now that she has been riding for a few seasons, she’s starting to find her way and is eager to compete. It’s a matter of finding which snowboarding discipline she really wants to spend most of her time on. She loves speed, so racing seems like a good place to start. However, knowing her as I do I think that she will grow into snowboard cross as she continues to improve her skills. It will sure be fun to watch this unfold.

The bottom line is that, like her dad, she’s really having fun out there. So much so that she says winter is her favourite season. It doesn’t get much better than that for the snowboarding soul.

Snowboard Ontario

As for me, I continue to enjoy giving back to the sport that has given me so much over the past 20+ years.

Mike Belobradic
Everyone Has a Story to Tell

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