“I love going fast!” says 11-year-old Breckon Mowry, who will begin his 5th season of snowboarding this year. His parents, Cade and Desi, are both experienced snowboarders and introduced Breckon to alpine sports by first teaching him how to downhill ski when he was 3 years old; he transitioned to snowboarding at age 7.
“Breckon has a lot of energy so snowboarding is a great outlet for him. He stuck to his heel edge for the first season and mastered riding ‘fakie,’ which means to ride opposite of the way you would naturally ride,” says his mom, Desi. The next season, Breckon learned how to carve, using the toe edge to heel edge pattern. “For his third season, we signed him up for a 2-hour class to help him with carving, and I noticed a huge difference after that one lesson. Although he thinks he has mastered the sport, we will enroll him in at least one lesson this year so he can learn some new techniques,” she says.
Breckon enjoys challenging himself on the mountain, and rides every weekend during the season at Lookout Pass with his family. His favorite run is Lucky Friday – a double-black diamond with powder stashes and snow-covered stumps for jumps. “Breckon loves to cruise the terrain park. He’s learning how to ride the rails, and looks forward to sticking his landings this season. His dad taught him that the trees and the sides of the runs have more snow and are more adventurous – he’ll go over any jump that he sees on the groomers,” says Desi. Another goal is to backflip off a jump, and he’s been practicing on his home trampoline since last summer. Someday he would like to join a snowboarding team; however, there are currently only ski racing teams affiliated with the local ski mountains “We hope they will eventually start a snowboarding team at Lookout Pass,” Desi says. “But until then he may take up skiing again to get on the team.”
Like many parents, the Mowrys’ main concern is their son’s safety on the mountain. “Luckily, he has not had too many bad crashes,” Desi says. “As much as we love to snowboard all day, sometimes it is better to have a 6-hour day instead of an 8. Your body gets worn out, and you are more prone to injury the longer you ride.”
Breckon’s dad, Cade, who has been snowboarding for 26 years after starting in 8th grade, looks forward to taking Breckon backcountry snowboarding when he’s older. “Cade has hiked Bridger Bowl and Big Sky to ride some of the more difficult terrain,” she says. “I would also like to say our son looks up to me as well. Though I am not as strong of a rider as Cade, Breckon and I take some fun runs together.”
Desi notes that snowboarding has taught Breckon the importance of being outside and utilizing his body and physical energy. “He uses the time on the mountain to release his energy and learn to master the art of snowboarding. If he is practicing a move, he will try it over and over again until he gets it right. It’s good for him to keep it up and know that if you practice and focus then you can usually achieve what you want,” she says. “Mentally, I think all kids have a fight with any sport – ‘Do I want to do this today? I really wanted to stay inside and play my Xbox’ – but once Breckon gets on the snow, you can’t get him off.”
Breckon’s advice for other kids new to snowboarding? “Learn how to have good balance and how to lean on your board so you can adjust to each edge,” he says. “Personally, snowboarding is more fun than skiing because I can go faster and not fear getting my legs tangled together if I wreck.”
Desi encourages parents of novice snowboarders to be patient. “Most kids will learn this sport quickly, but there are some who may have a more difficult time,” she says. “Based on my experience learning how to ride, I wish I would have taken the time for lessons. If there is an opportunity for lessons, get them into it. Much like school, kids learn differently from different people. They may get frustrated faster with a parent than they will with a [ski school] instructor.”
In addition, she says, “If possible, get your kids on skis before a snowboard. They need to learn balance with skis on snow before they can ride a board. I have not met many people who have snowboarded without skiing first.” And start them young, she says. “Kids are resilient – they can fall and get up, whereas older kids and young adults fall and get hurt. The fear is not there yet with younger kids, so they will be more willing to take risks.” //