Todd Hartley: There are simpler, safer ways to win a big trophy |

Todd Hartley: There are simpler, safer ways to win a big trophy

This weekend (at least, I think it’s this weekend. To be honest, I haven’t been paying attention too closely) a competition of sorts will be held in Snowmass in an activity called mountainboarding.

I think, though I’m likely wrong, that this event is the U.S. Open of mountainboarding, which means that technically I could have qualified for it somehow if I only knew how to mountainboard.

Mountainboarding, from the comical snippets I have seen on TV, appears to consist of binding an oversized, knobby-

tired skateboard to one’s feet and riding it down a hillside, hopefully a treeless one.

Practitioners don, at the very least, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and helmets before hopping on their boards in what I imagine is an ill-fated attempt to ward off the all injuries their plummet down the slope inflicts on them.

Now, I have nothing whatsoever against mountainboarding, but that just doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

Sadly, I’ll never know what could have been. I figure I would have made a pretty good mountainboarder. I’m heavy. I can hurl myself down a hill as fast as anybody. Who knows? If Shaun Micheel can win the PGA Championship, surely I could stand a chance in a big mountainboarding competition.

Mind you, it’s much more likely I’d have lost a few teeth and broken an appendage or three, but if the Fates somehow aligned I could have been the national mountainboarding champion.

That may sound far-fetched, but realistically, how many mountainboarders are there? I’m guessing I’d probably only have to beat a field of about a dozen guys.

You know, when I was a little kid, I was obsessed with trophies. It’s probably because I won so few of them. I proudly displayed the ones I had, and I would entertain notions of going to just about any camp or event that advertised that it had trophies for winners, as I myself hoped to be one day.

Not long into my childhood, I realized that trophies were generally cheap plastic trinkets significant of nothing, and it dawned on me that having a statuette proclaiming you the three-legged race champion didn’t necessarily validate you as a human being.

So, at the age of about 7, I lost my obsession with trophies. I still loved to compete and remain competitive in my inactivity to this day, but I just lost the need to verify or authenticate my competition with a trophy or title.

I bring up this phase of my formative years only because I fear that the competitive mountainboarders in Snowmass this weekend haven’t grown out of it.

If you want to put on hockey pads and throw yourself down a hill on a skateboard, that’s great. I applaud you. If you want to race like-minded individuals down that hill, that’s super, too. Really. Have a good time, and may your injuries prove not too serious.

But don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re something special because you won a so-called U.S. Open in which a small percentage of 1 percent of the U.S. population has the slightest interest.

Anybody can ride a board down a hill with a little practice. The fact that so few do is testament to people’s better judgment. There is really no need to have a U.S. Open in a “sport” as fringe as mountainboarding.

And yet, this weekend in Snowmass, there will be sponsored and, yes, professional mountainboarders hawking their mountainboard gear and vying for your mountainboard dollar should you decide to take up mountainboarding in your spare time.

People get paid to mountainboard. I know that sounds ridiculous, so I’ll say it again. People get paid to mountainboard.

You know what? I’m sick of sitting on the sidelines. I want to get paid for my hobbies. I’ll bet you’d like to get paid, too, wouldn’t you?

Whatever activity you’re into, get other practitioners of it organized and call yourselves a governing body and start staging competitions and see if you can turn a buck or two. Me, I’m getting to work right away organizing the U.S. Open of sledding.

[I mean, come on, a U.S. Open of mountainboarding? Get a life. Todd Hartley, who has been looking for a life for years, writes this column on Fridays in The Aspen Times. E-mail at]

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