Snowbirds of a Feather
Snow comes wet and it comes dry. You can rip it, shred it and tear it up. It’s all the same to snowboarder 54-year-old Charlie Bingham and his 19-year-old daughter, Lisa.
Says Bingham, “I really get pumped when the snow is coming down. I’m into big powder days and big jumps. I like the steep and deep stuff. I like to board extreme stuff,” Bingham raves.
The sheer amount of time the Binghams give to snowboarding shows their devotion to the sport. “We got into board sports—after skateboarding and wakeboarding—before they really took off,” says Bingham, “About 1987 I started snowboarding. When the group I board with dives into something like that we go 100 percent. We go a lot. We go up to Colorado every year and get a lot of time in.”
Picking up the sport in the early ‘80s, Bingham’s steadfastness paid off as the sport picked up. “Board sports is its own little world. Most people didn’t react well to boarders because it was typically the younger girls and guys getting into it. Attitudes are different,” says Bingham, “Personalities are different. There’s a culture clash there. As time went by, snowboarding began to get a lot more popular and taking over some of the bigger resorts. The snowboarders had a lot more to do.”
Perhaps the “culture clash” comes from the entry of younger boarders, such as Lisa, into the sport. “Lisa gets fired up about deep powder, tree runs and sheer air. She’s just really started to come on as a boarder and her main tricks are grabs right now,” says Bingham.
When he initially entered the world of snowboarding, Bingham traded in his skis for a deck. It was no easy task to make the switch. “The difference with skiing and snowboarding is the learning curve. The curve on skiing is longer. You can learn to ski at a beginner level in a relatively short period of time but getting better takes much more time,” Bingham says,
“For snowboarding, the learning curve is very short. But it’s not without price. A lot of people don’t realize how hard you can hit the ground until you start snowboarding.”
Snowboarding is pricey, but Bingham knows it’s worth the cost. “For a snowboarder, gear is the number one thing. Most guys want the newest snowboards all the time,” says Bingham, “Everybody likes to keep their stuff updated. All the board manufacturers have all-around boards for guys that like to do a little of everything. And they’ll have specific boards that are designed more for the pipe or the terrain park or maybe just riding moguls.”
Bingham’s happy to share advice with would-be snowboarders. “It’s all about your gear. It’s about being comfortable. It’s about staying dry and staying warm. You really can’t underestimate the value of good gear. For somebody that’s really into it, it’s about buying quality gear,” Bingham notes, “Don’t hold back and save a little money here and there. Go after quality, name-brand gear because it’ll serve you better. It’ll take care of you. So don’t skimp when it comes to gear.”
Says Bingham, “Since my girls like the steep and deep stuff I’d say that their most consistent line is, ‘Let’s follow Dad. He always finds the good stuff’.”