Tonight's guest blog is from our pal Lola Kutcher! Lola is giving her take on Calgary's winters and how it has fuelled her love for passionately pursuing her wicked snowboarding career, enjoy!
If you’re Albertan, you are no stranger to the symptoms of winter. You deny it of course, until there’s that one moment when you go to start your car and you can barely see it under all the snow. With your nose prickling from the cold and your hands stiff, you locate your windshield brush from last winter and attack the gruelling task of digging up your car. When you’ve finally scraped off all the stubborn ice from your windshield and started your car, you get in, rubbing your hands in front of the heater, trying to coax back some feeling into your fingertips. Here is when you might realize that winter has arrived.
For many, winter brings up depressing images of more mornings like these, along with black ice on the roads, awkward Christmas parties with your boss, and having to pile on what feels like a hundred layers just to take out the garbage. I am also familiar with the pains of winter just like everyone else, but since I was eight there’s nothing I’ve looked forward to more.
When I step outside on that first freezing cold morning, I revel in the sting of my fingertips, taking in deep breaths of the smell of fresh snow. The bite of the frost reminds me of cold competition mornings, sitting in the lodge tightening my boots, and the ice on the ground of my driveway reflects the morning light, just like the ice around the turn of a berm. Every sound from the slamming of a door to the wet winter tires in the snow on that first winter morning brings up images of snowboarding, and with every flake that falls it brings my passion closer.
I have always lived in Calgary Alberta and training at Canada Olympic Park twice a week exposed me to the family of snowboarding, teaching me how to snowboard on a hill that is basically pure ice. From ages eight to ten I focused on learning how to snowboard, and at eleven I started to compete. I was competing in slope style, but with every turn there was fear. Don’t get me wrong, finally landing that jump that I was so scared of gave me crazy adrenaline, but as time went by I lost the drive to hit those jumps, and I was caving from the pressure.
I started half pipe, and the joy I found in the walls of the pipe was like nothing I’d ever felt before. Dropping into the wall, everything would fade away and I was just the sound of my board on the snow, floating as I spun.
I went to Canada Winter Games in the winter of 2015, I was fourteen, and I got my first taste of snowboard cross. I thought half pipe was great, but it was nothing in comparison to the slam of the boards in the gate, or the rush of hearing your competitor approach from behind you. When you are with a club for four years they become your family, and leaving them was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t say I regret it though, because I had fallen in love.
I’m only starting my second year at Evolve SBX this year, but we train weekly at Lake Louise and I’ve fallen in love with the mountains, and racing. It showed too. Last year being my first year of racing, I entered two provincial level competitions and finished both at the top of the podium, beating people who were close to double my age. Going into this season I have so much local support, and three companies that I am honoured to represent.
This year, at sixteen years old, I have plans to compete in Nationals, and hopefully a Nor-Am race. After eight years of snowboarding I am finally succeeding, with my family of competitors and coaches by my side, my parents and siblings cheering at the side lines.
Living in Calgary, there is such a huge community of winter lovers, and I feel so much pride in representing local brands and also the sport of snowboard cross. Please feel free to check out my website www.lolakutcher.weebly.com and my Instagram account @lola_kutcher for photos, competition results, and more information on the companies that keep me afloat.
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