So you want to live the snowboard lifestyle. Snowboarding is your passion and you want to build your whole life around it. Options are broad and range from from being a snowboard bum to living near a mountain or even being a snowboard industry worker. It all depends on your outlook on life and how much you’re willing to work and/or sacrifice for snowboarding.
This article takes an in-depth look at what it takes to live the snowboard lifestyle and the long-term impact of such decisions on your professional and personal life.
See also: How to find people to go snowboarding with
The importance of snowboarding in your life
For many riders, snowboarding strongly influences their life decisions and is an important part of the “what should I do with my life” equation.
A key question is whether you want snowboarding to be your life or only part of your life. Another major question is whether you want your life to revolve around snowboarding right now or if you’re willing to focus on work for some years so as to be able to snowboard later on in life.
Is snowboarding a goal and a reward for working hard? Are you ready for commitments and build a life with a stable job, a house, a car, a partner or even a family? Or is your dream life made of pure snowboarding freedom?
Some people’s goal is being able to work and ride everyday, and have enough free time and money to to do so when not at work. They have higher priorities than just snowboarding, they want a job they love, being able to support themselves and their family, being able to travel for snowboard.
You might feel snowboarding in itself doesn’t contribute tot society and only involves enjoy yourself, unless you work on the side – e.g. a small job in a resort or in a snowboarding company.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a jobless bum and live in your truck or in a closet most of the year to snowboard everyday.
Stagnating in life in order to live a pure snowboarding lifestyle will only take you so far in the long run. Chances are you’ll eventually get tired of camping here and there or sleeping at friends’ place once the season is over.
Let’s look at what kind of jobs can get you closer to your dream snowboarding life.
The right job for a snowboarding lifestyle
There’s a wide range of jobs you can choose from that will let you to go riding very often. Sometimes a part time job may allow you to buy a season pass, car gas to a nearby hill, and snowboard gear every season.
Some jobs will let you to put in tons of overtime in the snowboarding off season, then take off during the season and still be able to support your family.
Some mid-aged snowboarders choose to work 4 – 6 months per year and the rest of the time will fly off to a nice snowboarding location to ride until they run out of money.
Your goal in life, on the other hand, may be to get a job that gives you a stable income, healthcare benefits, retirement savings, the ability to have a home, a car, a partner, the ability to travel etc. Some cubicle warriors manage to get 45 days of snowboarding in the season.
For the younger or less career-oriented riders, working nights in a resort can be an option, e.g. getting a job in a restaurant cooking (easy to find), serving (more competitive because of the huge tips), or dish washing, or at a hotel front desk.
A waiter or bartender job can be a good way to support yourself while snowboarding the whole season, as these jobs offer minimum wage plus tips in many states – including Colorado. However, these jobs are in high demand so you’ll first need to gain some experience by working small jobs in restaurants.
Keep in mind that mountain towns are expensive, and many snowboarders barely get by on resort job wages. Although, some resorts do offer very good and cheap staff housing in high rent environments.
Career for a snowboarding life
A sound option for young boarders who wish to live the snowboard lifestyle is to get a solid education and choose a profession with snowboard friendly hours and which allows being close to a mountain.
The goal is freedom, flexibility, and if possible, a fulfilling career. You may develop skills that are in demand in a mountain town or focus your education around living in the mountains.
Another option is getting a programming job since many are fully remote, allow you to live near the mountains while earning good money.
Nursing can also be a good option if you can work in a hospital near the mountain. Some nurses work evenings and ride all day while getting paid well, and are able to live comfortably in high-end resort towns.
Other health care careers e.g. sleep technologist can allow you to work primarily at night and go riding every day while making a good living. Be aware, however, that school can be demanding for these career paths.
The tech and finance industries offer lots of opportunities to make decent money while working from home. However, you need a solid education and a few years of office experience before you can access these flexible positions and enjoy the snowboard lifestyle.
Speaking of education, choosing a university close to a mountain will allow you to go riding often during your college years. Western Colorado University, for example, is only a half hour drive from Created Butte. Fort Lewis College in Durango is 1-2 hours away from from Silverton Mountain, Wolf Creek, and Telluride. Riders often recommend attending college in Missoula, MT.
Getting a job in the snowboarding industry
An option available to snowboarders is to get involved in the snowboarding industry so they can live in the sport. Examples of small jobs include driving snow plough or tuning/waxing snowboards. These are obviously seasonal jobs.
Another way to make your way into the snowboarding industry is to approach snowboard companies or check out their job offers. You can choose your college major accordingly in you’re in school. You may also apply for internships at these companies.
The most common positions in the industry are typically marketing and sales jobs. These usually require a college education. Without one, though, you can try to get hands-on snowboard manufacturing experience e.g. with a boutique company in the U.S. or abroad.
Examples of work include cutting and shaping the materials, assembling components, finishing products. You may start as a belt sander for e.g. $9 an hour. Over time, you might start designing products as well. Note that peak manufacturing season is generally the opposite of snowboard season.
Looking at lower-pay jobs, common opportunities including getting hired as a building manager, which involves managing staff accommodation. While these positions are readily available, they are often unpaid but with free rent in the resort.
You can also work at a snowboard shop or some other job in a mountain town. However, you will likely have a hard time paying your rent off season and you may find yourself struggling financially – although some riders are happy with this lifestyle.
Chair lift jobs are also easily to find but are usually dead-end jobs – though many mountain managers started this way. Chair lift operators, however, have to work during the season and get low pay doing a dull job.
Other examples of snowboard related (kind of) options for younger snowboarders include wildland firefighter (you must be 18+), river guide (frequent summer job for liftys), or hunting guide (low pay but high tips in the summer).
If you’re a good snowboarder, you can get trained to be a snowboard instructor. This involves getting a certification, gaining significant experience, and building a network of snowboarding colleagues to get access to job openings.
You can also try to become a professional snowboarder. This requires talent, dedication, and hard work, with limited opportunities for sponsorship and prize money.
Many professional riders supplement their income by participating in snowboarding events and competitions, working as instructors or coaches, or finding work in the snowboarding industry. Making a stable income can be challenging.
Working in snowboarding is a bit like being an artist and takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to earn a decent living. Working in the industry may also ruin your desire for the sport once your life starts depending on it.
Finding the right location
Living the snowboard life is easiest if you can move to a location close to a slope or mountain, or even a mountain town. This will allow you to go riding often at low cost.
Being able to live in a resort e.g. Breckenridge or Big Sky is obviously the best option for living the core snowboard lifestyle.
Snowboarders living in cities like Salt Lake City are able to ride every day (or night) being only a 30 minute drive from Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude, and 45 minutes from half a dozen other great resorts, and easily reachable backcountry.
Other cities like Denver also also gives you access to the mountains but you need to wake up at 7am to get there around 9:30.
Great opportunities to live the snowboard life can also be found abroad, e.g. in Europe or in Asia. Snowboarders living in Tokyo, for example, are close to many resorts and enjoy constant powder and small crowds including during the day.
In March when the snow starts getting scarce, they can drive a bit further to Hakkoda or take a longer trip to Hokkaido.
Managing relationships and personal commitments
Managing relationships can be challenging when living a lifestyle centered around snowboarding, especially if you are frequently traveling or away from home.
Communicating with your loved ones is key to helping them understand your commitment to snowboarding. Allow them to always stay in touch with you even when you’re gone riding.
It’s important to plan your trips in advance to minimize frustration and conflict. Try to assign enough time for both snowboarding and family life. Set boundaries for your passion and set aside quality time for your loved ones between snowboarding activities.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your family e.g. for taking care of important tasks while you’re away.
Try to find a balance between your snowboarding and your personal commitments. While snowboarding may be a priority, it’s important to nurture your relationships and make time for the people who are important to you.
It would be hard to live your lifestyle without a job and a supportive mate, especially if you have kids. Some snowboarders also take their family on a snowboarding trip once in a while, in addition to the trips with their snowboard buddies.
There’s always going to be tradeoff between your snowboard lifestyle and you family and work commitments. You will likely need to make some sacrifices to accommodate both sides of your life. Many snowboarders accept losing snowboarding time to have a good secure job and a family they love.
See also: deep dive into the snowboarding community
Staying fit and healthy for snowboarding
One crucial aspect of living the snowboard lifestyle to the fullest is to stay fit, so you can take advantage of all the riding opportunities that come your way.
There’s nothing worse than getting the perfect powder conditions on a day you’re free to go riding, but once on the mountain you feel tired or out of shape and are unable to enjoy it fully.
When no snowboarding, make sure you have an adequate fitness routine. Include strength training as strong muscles will help you maintain balance and control on your snowboard and reduce the risk of injury. This includes exercises such as squats, lunges, and core workouts.
It’s also important to maintain good flexibility to prevent muscle strains and other injuries. Stretching before and after riding (and workouts) will help you stay limber and reduce muscle soreness.
Snowboarding is also demanding cardio-wise, so make sure you include cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming in your cross training.
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining energy and staying healthy while snowboarding. Focus on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, try to avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.
Dehydration can affect your performance on the mountain, so it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day when snowboarding.
Living a life centered around snowboarding requires a combination of dedication, hard work, and smart decision-making. It may involve finding the right location and job or career, staying fit and healthy, and balancing your commitments with your personal relationships.
By focusing on your goals and priorities, being open to new opportunities, and willing to make some sacrifices, you can build a fulfilling life around your passion for snowboarding.