He Went To From Skier To Boarder. Here’s How And What Happened.

Heading down to Powder Mountain lodge, Dave Hayes took a couple of years to make the transition from skier to board.
Heading down to Powder Mountain lodge, Dave Hayes took a couple of years to make the transition from skier to board.

I have to confess, I was once one of you before I moved to the Dark Side. Yes, I skied in the East Coast and the West Coast, in the Rockies and also in Austria, enjoying the feeling and stability of two boards under my feet and with poles to move me along when needed.

Former skier, now boarder, Dave Hayes with son learning how-to. Credit: Dave Hayes
Former skier, now boarder, Dave Hayes with son learning how-to.
Credit: Dave Hayes

However, with two young sons and the misguided idea that I could spend more time with them if I took up snowboarding, I dropped the two for one and took up Boarding. As an older adult I joined the Dark Side where most of the much younger participants seem to be oblivious to common sense or at least common manners as they drop down to sit in front of you blocking your path. As skiers we all enjoy being edged off the trail as the boarders race by often jumping on nonexistent drifts and seem to purposely nudge you out of their way.

I was once like you but now, I am committed and far happier as a Boarder. I truly enjoy the sensations of a snowboard on powder with the glide and edging making the effortless turns that seem to be only available on a Board.

OK, you skiers need to know that there are two forms of falling while learning to Board, front — which means your hands and wrists are at risk, or, like me, backward fallers —where you learn the meaning of word coccyx, which means tail bone. I hurt my tailbone so badly in my attempt to learn boarding that after my return home I decided to go to the Doctor convinced that something had broken. I learned that severe bruises also hurt like hell and that even a Doctor can laugh at his long time patient who seemingly is not acting his age.

The learning curve was, well, both long and painful. I remember during my private lessons (pride would not allow me to take group lessons) spending a lot of time on my rear to the point that after the end of the day of lessons (ok, mostly falling) I had a real challenge sitting down. After the first week and a very sore backside I spent most of the time standing on the 4.5 hour flight home. Which, you might understand in a post 9/11 world, makes you the object of a lot of suspicious glances until you explain that your tail hurts from learning to snowboard. I believe I noted a few snickers from the cabin crew.

The next vacation on the snow and after more lessons, a very patient instructor told me of the padded appliance appropriately named Azz Pad that snow park participant’s sometime use during training. Quickly getting on the internet and with the gift of overnight delivery I was quickly proud owner of the aforementioned Azz Pad and I have never looked back. My wife shook her head at my new found rear end protection and my two sons derided my apparel but I found comfort in the added padding and when combined with a highly recommended beginner’s board I developed courage, stability and the dissipation of fear (or at least in regard to my tailbone bruises).

Moving ahead a few years and with more than just a few snow days behind me, I am no longer wearing the Azz Pad, I have now five snowboards for differing conditions and also, well, just because I can! I regularly board black runs and often do the snowcat program at my favorite ski (I mean snowboarding) resort.

One son is now a certified snowboard instructor and the other is seemingly an Olympic class snowboarder (at least in my eyes). So, I looked forward to boarding with my sons; at leasst, that was the plan. Guess what, not a chance, they prefer hitting the slopes without old Dad holding them back.

However, I am grateful that my boys were the catalyst for me learning the sport that I now love. I still enjoy the feeling of one board in powder and the sense of victory that comes with learning a difficult (at my age) skill, and with no small measure of pride, learn it well.

Look around you, boarders of all ages are now on the slopes and if you see a gray haired nattily attired boarder with a smile on his face and a groove in his glide from the tunes in his helmet music system, ask him if he is named David.

Editor Note: If you’re interested in snowboarding as a senior, check out GraysOnTrays for the adult snowboarder.

About The Author:

David Hayes is an engineer turned contractor living in central Florida but in his mind is in Ogden Valley’s SnowBasin and Powder Mountain, UT. Click below for a short video from the world of the boarder.


  1. David Hayes says:

    That guy needs more lessons!! But the ability to use Dude in a sentence is a plus!!

  2. Susie Mach says:

    I loved the article… this told my story as well. I thoroughly enjoyed learning something new, and once I became good enough to not spend my day on the ground with soggy ski pants, I found the perfect tool to use in the deep powder. Nirvana! I found incredible agility with the board to weave through the trees, to skirt the left over edges of the run, and to use up all that left over powder the skiers don’t seem to need. It was more like playing in the puddles than holding that predictable line my skis needed. However, my back did not like the added stress on the L4 and L5 area and started to cause a lot of pain. After 10 years of enjoyment, I had to give it up and return fully to skiing. I had kept up my skills, some days going from board to skis depending on the conditions. Today, I miss my board on the powder days, but also enjoy my wider and rockered skis. And just to keep me learning, I took up tele-skiing. I truly enjoy the new challenge and have found that the variety in skill sets has vastly improved my alpine skiing. Life’s short, learning new skills keeps me interested and eager to get to the resort, I highly recommend it.

  3. hi david, i am Lorraine, a snowboarding instructor and i have a small blog called snowboardhow.com
    i came across to your site from grayontrays found your blog very nice though.

    i am just wondering if it’s possible for you to add a link of my blog to yours?? I will offer you a do follow links too

    please could you kindly let me know what you think?

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