Pro snowboarder Colin Boyd and Olympic alpine skiier Julia Ford are in their element in the mountains – but we wondered how they’d handle a summit-to-sea effort without snow. We sent the pair of winter athletes on an odyssey taking them hiking up New England’s mountainous peaks and challenged them to go uphill and downhill without their snow gear.
Our odyssey was inspired by the intrepid hardworking spirit of New England. As a professional snowboarder on the Freeride World Tour, moving back to New England is as close to career suicide as one would like, yet, reconnecting with characters like Olympic Skier, Julia Ford and the philosophy of being a snowboarder on the East Coast has allowed me to revisit my youth and the region’s history unearthing a new channel of performance ability when riding at the elite level.
Julia is a fantastic example of someone who fell passionately in love with skiing from the moment she first stepped on skis. Growing up skiing in Vermont and New Hampshire, she dealt with poor conditions, dark days and small mountains. In our time together, she mentioned that some of her friends from the west said they never would have pursued skiing if they had grown up here. Understanding deeply the challenges of skiing or riding professionally when based in the east, I am impressed that she went all the way to the Olympics, begging the question – what is it about the east that has progressed so many athletes to perform at the highest level?
From my own experience, it is the spirit of New England ingrained in the characters that makes this place so special. In winter the short, dark, cold days and icy mountains instill a passion for the mountains that is unparalleled in other places. Some of my dear friends who now reside in some of the most famous international mountain towns slogged it out in their youth in icy chest high moguls and rain.
Since returning, I’ve found that spending time here generates new found humility and gratitude when traveling. I’ve had the pleasure of living in Japan, New Zealand and traveling throughout Europe – chasing snow in all these countries. Now as a young father with less and less time to travel for snow, I feel more grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to travel and compete in such magnificent locations and of course our own backyard for the Odyssey Project.
Connecting with Julia Ford on our Odyssey highlighted this unique aspect of New England – no matter what, it seems to draw back those who call this place home back at least nostalgically if not physically. As we both make the transition from fall to winter, we will spend most of the winter away from the place that we call home. But this Project – which allowed us to reconnect with the sea and mountains of the east, will provide us the ability to draw upon our experiences when dropping through the start gate in the European Alps this year.