Aspen Princess: Shredding the gnar cannot come soon enough

Allison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

I’ve always known I would never be a soccer mom. After all, when Levi was born I was so determined not to drive a minivan, I bought a MINI Cooper instead.

I swore I’d never wear my hair in a mom-bob, never join the PTA, never push my child to adhere to the same norms I myself spent a lifetime deviating from. I was so determined not to be put into a box I moved into a triangle-shaped house which, I’m coming to learn, is the furthest thing from conventional. I would not stand at the sidelines screaming hysterically or care about whether or not my kid could kick a ball into a net.

Snowboarding, it turns out, might be another story.

After the first snow last week, I took Levi to the park. At the last second, I grabbed his little snowboard.

I’d bought him the snowboard for his first birthday, which I realize now was probably a little ambitious. It’s more of a toy snowboard than a real one, a plastic kid’s model from Burton with a pulley at the nose so you literally pull the kid around your living room in his pajamas.

I think we took the snowboard out once last season, just out on the driveway after a big storm. Ryan took a video for me, but he was just pulling Levi along as I’d done in the living room. Still, it was fun to see him on snow.

When I’d grabbed the board for our outing to the park, it was a bit of an afterthought. I knew the playground would likely be too wet to play, and Arbaney Park doesn’t have any hills big enough to sled on. Plus, I couldn’t locate the sled as it had been stored somewhere over the summer and I had no clue where to begin to look.

I strapped Levi into his bindings dressed in Bogs and cargo pants. I pulled him around the park for a little bit and he seemed to be enjoying it.

“Look! I can snowboard just like you, Mom,” he said.

Next, I brought the board up to the top of a small slope and let him slide down a few yards onto the flats. Success.

After that, I carried him, board strapped to his feet, banging against my shins as I walked, to the tallest slope I could find, which wasn’t much but it was something. It had two short pitches. I got him into position and held my breath as I let go.

He not only rode down without falling, he absorbed two little bumps in perfect balance, his knees bent and arms in the perfect position to navigate the terrain.

“Woo-hoo!” I cheered, my voice so crazed with enthusiasm it made my throat sore and sounded foreign, even to my own ears. “Good one!”

Levi did a little cheer of his own. He understood what he had just done, and was proud of himself for not falling. Another small success. “Let’s do it again!” he said. Music to my ears.

Of course I took a video and like 60 photos because if I’m going to document what I eat and take 200 photos of the pugs every day, I’m sure as hell not going to miss this. I immediately texted the video to the grandparents and posted the video to social media, not even waiting until we got into the car. I was immediately rewarded with the praise I’d been fishing for, the little red icon illuminated with comments and likes.

That night at dinner, I did little to hide my excitement, prattling on about renting Levi a snowboard setup for the season, what, since he would be growing so fast it didn’t make sense to buy one.

“I think he should master skiing before we let him snowboard,” Ryan said that night at dinner. “Even the big snowboarders say it’s best to do that, to give them the foundation.”

I shook my head. “I disagree,” I said. “He can do both.”

I could feel myself transform from somewhere deep under my skin; claws sprung from my fingertips, fangs exploded from my gums, hair covered my arms, legs and face. Visions of riding power through the trees with my baby clouded my vision until I could see nothing but the spray from his last powder turn.

I did my best to regain my composure and took a deep, slow, breath. “I do both, why can’t he?” I said, trying to use that placating tone that I know Ryan interprets as condescending, but it’s just what happens when you have a kid. “I mean, that’s why we live here, isn’t it?”

After our little snowboard session in the park, we went to Whole Foods, because when you live in the midvalley, you find a reason to go to Whole Foods every single day, even when you don’t need to because who can survive without raw cashews, coconut milk and the chickpeas you wanted for that one recipe? The kid bagging our groceries struck up an animated conversation with Levi and we told him all about our adventure. I brandished my phone like a crazy person and showed this random person my little video of Levi snowboarding all of 100 feet.

It turned out the kid was a snowboarding instructor, and clearly these two already had a connection. He was as good as hired.

“I’m going to teach you a saying,” the snowboard kid said to Levi. “And I want you to remember this for the rest of your life. You can scream it at the top of your lungs. Ready?”

Levi nodded enthusiastically.

“SHRED THE GNAR!” the kid yelled.

As soon as we walked outside, Levi shrieked, “SHRED THE GNAR!” at the top of his lungs.

OK, so maybe I’d never be a soccer mom. But a snowboard mom? I can hardly wait.

The Princess is in the market for toddler snowboard gear. Send your love to