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    Snow Sports: Get the Sensation

    By John Chen–

    You know those York Peppermint Patty commercials when the average Joe bites into one and is immediately transported to a snowy, pristine and magnificent mountaintop? It’s the sensation like you are actually there, a place in your dream and a place you want to be. Bite into a York and feel the cool, crisp fresh air, and smell that natural evergreen. You know how you can get that sensation without paying $1 for a patty (when I was a kid, a patty was only 25 cents, sigh)? Come closer. No, closer! Shhh … don’t tell anyone. Get into your car, preferably an AWD/4WD, and head to the mountains.

    Have you ever wondered how those guys get down from the mountaintop after biting into a York? Well, they ski or snowboard down, of course! Did you know the discovery of snow sports coincidentally came after the invention of York? Hmm, something deep to ponder. I’ll give you a moment.

    All joking aside, we are still in winter—Spring officially starts on March 20—and snow sports in Northern California have kicked off with celebrations and parties. Popular destinations such as Tahoe and Mammoth are painted with the colors of the rainbow because we, the LGBT community, are there in full force, not to mention all the glamorous accessories, decorations and costumes that we bring. Hey, we have to look fabulous gliding down that fresh powder or lounging in front of the fire, right?

    Fellow native Southern Californian Jon Leonard traded his surfboard for a snowboard after venturing into Northern California mountains. The need for speed combined with the Zen-like white slopes became an easy sell for Jon. A lover of crazy weather, Jon explained that the beach, although beautiful, was always crowded and sunny, a constant that can be boring and stale. The mountains during winters, on the other hand, are not only majestic, but also unpredictable. Weather can change on a dime, creating instant whiteout flurries, grey ambiguity and contrasting blue.

    Longtime friend Thomas Dunseath tells me that being in the mountains feels very spiritual and even surreal, like he is in another world. Whether skiing or boarding, the exhilaration of gliding fluidly downhill through a winter wonderland cannot be matched. There’s always a place on the slopes where you can be alone, look out onto the snowy peaks and observe the world, observe yourself.


    Jon tells me that there are several LGBT-based snow sports organizations that host major events, weekends, celebrations and even provide assistance and equipment. Locally, Truckee SnowBros (Facebook) provides snow reports, conditions, and a community forum where LGBT ski and snowboarders can find and help one another.

    Internationally, there are major LGBT events such as Snow Bums, Gay Ski Aspen and Whistler. Elevation is another major sponsor of LGBT ski and boarding parties with Elevation Mammoth as the largest local event. You can easily find all of these groups via Google search. Jon emphasized that you don’t have to know how to ski or board to participate. These events and groups are a great way to meet other riders from all over the world. Friendships are forged and sparks ignite, especially at the hot tub and pool parties when the sky turns to night.

    Last, but not least, there’s the total and complete amateur or novice like myself awkwardly stumbling down the bunny slope—the slope for kids and beginners—even after $2,000 worth of ski lessons. Nevertheless, like Jon and Tom, the beauty, majesty and the dreamlike state of the mountains call to me, bringing me great inner peace as I fall once again on my big black and blue buttock. Unfazed, I ignore the chuckles of all the kids around me.

    So, if you’re like me, stand tall and proud after such moments. Head to the lodge. Then get yourself a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and sit in a hot tub where you can look out onto a winter wonderland.

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.