The Nature of a Sledding Friendship
Words and photos by Eliisa Tennant
The Nature of a Sledding Friendship
So, here I am. It’s 2017, and as I scroll through the contacts on my phone I would estimate that 50% of them are friends I met through snowmobiling. My social media accounts contain probably a higher percentage.
I met these amazing individuals at sled shows, movie premiers, by walking into their garage to wrench on sleds with a mutual friend, via social media, over a game of pool or on the mountain. All of these contacts form a medley of friendships categorized something like this; sledding friends you talk to all year round, sledding friends you start talking to in November and stop talking to in April, and riding buddies. Let’s delve a little deeper and explore the nature of each sledding friendship.
The Year Rounder
You met in the parking lot at Boulder; eyed each other up from across a sea of lifted Denali pickups—yours is white, his is charcoal—gave each other the “what’s up” awkward chin nod, walked over to discuss sled mods on your Mountain Cats—you both have turbos from Top Secret Shop? No way!—and somewhere along the line decided you might as well huck yourselves off shit together for the rest of the day. Congratulations, you have a new best friend!
While riding you discover that on top of your similar skill set on a snowmobile you actually have a ton in common; you share world views, work in the same industry, do the same stuff in the (dreaded) summer months, share a sense of humour or you are at a similar place in your lives. You meet this friend and your world changes, your heart opens and life as you knew it prior is over.
A stream of regular text messages, phone calls and snap chats later and you’ve gone from talking about the benefits of certain track lengths to deciding on what to buy your significant others for Christmas (no, the answer is never a vacuum). Before you know it you’re planning vacations together, sending birthday cards in the mail for each other’s kids, grabbing a beer after work in your new favourite pub, standing up at each other’s weddings and generally being a big part of each other’s everyday lives. The Year Rounder is a game changer. The Year Rounder is a friend for life.
The November-April Friend
You can smell the snow in the air. So can your November-April sled buddy and that’s why on November 17th you receive a text message from him, “Bro! Did you check out Follow Cam 7? Those guys are positively savage! I can’t even wait to try out my new 850; she’s just sitting here begging for a ride.”
Yes, winter is almost here and it’s time to rekindle that seasonal friendship. You shot each other a few t-bombs over the summer; mostly to ensure there wasn’t any injuries sustained that could impede all the shredding you have planned but the conversation rarely goes further than anything not sledding related.
These are the buddies you’ll usually wrench on your sled with in a garage with a beer, the ones with the mad discounts at the dealership they are sponsored by, the ones who’ll wingman you at the bar or share a plate of nachos with after a day of riding blower pow, the ones who blow up your Instagram throughout the year tossing likes and comments with airplanes and fist bumps like they are going out of style.
You like the guy, you laugh all the time on the mountain together and you’ll even hug each other after a throw down but you lack the connection that helps you endure the May-October gap. Come November though… it’s on like Donkey Kong.
The Riding Buddy
Let’s be real here people, everyone has some. Take one look at your Contact List on your phone and you can easily find your riding buddies; their contact information usually has just a first name followed by a winter themed emoji or a brief sled description. Yeah, Joe Snowflake and Bob Ski-Doo XM 154 With Dragon Wrap, you fall in the riding buddy category—but it ain’t personal, it’s sledding!
This is the guy you don’t really want to talk to very much but are equally matched technically so you have some sick days together. You meet in the parking lot and unload your sleds, comment on the weather, say something brief and motivational to start the day off right “Let’s do this!” or “Today is going to be epic!” and up the trail you go.
Lunches are brief, words are few but the sledding is amazing! This guy is the booty call in the sledding friendship world. Now, if you’re reading this and pouting at the realization that not only do you have riding buddies, but that you are a riding buddy then have no fear; riding buddies come with serious perks. Because you ride at the same level you have no issues getting into the desired zones—you’re either digging all day together or shredding like badasses through the trees. You push each other for betterment, feeding off each other’s competitive nature to try new maneuvers.
There is no emotional commitment to the individual so you can just ride—leave the worries at home and just have fun! And days with your riding buddies mean logging serious hours of seat time. Less talking = more riding! Riding buddies are awesome in their own way; you might not strike a personal chord with each other, but damn if you don’t shred like besties!
The Mountain Acquaintance
I see you across the lake, Mountain Acquaintance, eating lunch with your crew while I nosh on soggy jalapeno poppers with mine and if I don’t break my tooth on this frozen Clif Bar I will probably fire up my sled and rip over to say, “hey.”
You have seen each other around for years on the mountain, probably stopped to watch each other hurtle off some ridiculously large cliff, exchanged pleasantries in the cabin while defogging your goggles, ran into each other at a sled show and yeah, you follow each other on various forms of social media.
You likely have mad respect for some of your mountain acquaintances and the idea of riding with them floats through your mind occasionally but haven’t yet mustered up the courage to DM them on Instagram and say “Hey, I thought I would randomly start talking to you because I think the chance of us being friends is pretty high. You do cool shit. I do cool shit. The probability of successful friendship is damn near 100. So, we might as well start now and get to the good stuff.”
If you’re thinking it… just do it. Your mountain acquaintance could just be your next Year Rounder.
Every kind of sledding friendship is awesome and unique and no matter who you are going up the mountain with on any given day, no matter what the nature of your sledding friendship, you know you’re going to have an awesome time. Being on a mountain top, shredding through the snow with like-minded individuals is what we all live for.