It was a cold Tuesday afternoon. I was taking a nap after my morning classes in Ellis Hall when the phone rang. “You know what we have to do …” said a voice that I knew was covered up with a warm beard. It was fellow OU student Ashley Martin, calling on that snowy fifth of February to do something we both loved: snowboarding.
Phone tag began as we rallied together a small group of riders to search for a fun spot to shred that night. We intended to take full advantage of the small window that Athens weather had granted us to ride on campus.
Athens has experienced every season imaginable in the last three months. The peculiar flux in weather has thrown most students noses into a snot-leaking faucet that, if all combined, would make the water main break look like an annoying drip.
Students walk to class in the morning with sun on their face, only to be met with gusting wind and specks of snow. The weather normally leaves snowboarders hopes waning in a whirlpool of emotions only matched by the swirling chill outside.
Between the constant weather change, “boil” season and fugitives falling onto campus like leaves, awards should be handed out to students who make it to class on time.
Punxsutawney Phil predicted a short winter but the future of this semester’s weather is literally “up in the air.” Already surpassing snowfall accumulation of 2012, (1.40 inches) but not quite getting back to the glory days of 2011 (11.10), more snow on Ohio Universities campus could open up countless possibilities for its snowboarding population.
The Snowcats (OU’s skiing and snowboarding club), along with many individual shredders around campus, normally have to take long car trips to ride. The rare occurrence of snow in Athens forces riders like Ashley Martin and Matt Simmons to scrape snow into an area for use. This practice is commonly referred to as urban riding.
Urban snowboarding takes its roots from skateboarding. The push of riding off the mountain and in the streets has been growing for a couple years now. Normally cities with large amounts of snow (Salt Lake City, Kalamzoo, Akron) are the hot spots, but once the ground is covered, any city becomes a rider’s dream.
“I love the streets,” junior Chris Karlyn said. “It’s free!”
College campuses are a gold mine for skateboarders, which in turn, now means snowboarders if the conditions are right. Riders in towns like Athens normally only have a few days to hit spots they walk by every day.
“The creativity that is encouraged and allowed is awesome. You can have fun anywhere on a snowboard,” Karlyn said.
After talking to some of the riders around campus, I have compiled some of the secret spots that they’ve have been drooling at for years.
Warning: Urban riding is for experienced riders only. Many spots need a Banshee Bungee, drop-in, or serious Tow de Bro (two buddies pulling you until optimal speed is achieved).