Despite unforgettable Marquette summers on the shores of Lake Superior, many students come to Northern Michigan University for the winters. The season brings with it popular seasonal activities, such as snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. Snowboarding-and nearby Marquette Mountain-is one of the many reasons that students endure those Marquette winters. And although many people cringe at the thought of winter, some NMU students have been preparing for it all summer long.
In the past, when the summer sun chased them from the hills, snowboarders had nowhere to turn. There weren’t many off-season activities that snowboarders could do to stay sharp in their sport, until something called longboarding was brought to their attention.
“I came to Northern for a couple reasons. One of the biggest being the ability to snowboard any time I want while going to college,” said Jesse Carter, a fifth-year NMU student. “I’m not the only one that had snowboarding on the brain when deciding my education future. Many of my friends had done the same.”
Carter a member of NMU Skate and Snow, a student organization dedicated to winter sports, has recently purchased a longboard..
“Being able to snowboard is a necessity. I needed to go to college somewhere where this could happen,” Carter added.
Longboarding, also known as land surfing, is a great way for offseason snowboarders to keep in shape. Marquette has some of the best terrain for these longboarding enthusiasts: slight hills, well-paved roads, well-maintained bike paths and big open parking lots to practice.
By June 2006, longboarding had become the No. 2-ranked skateboard activity in North America, according to USA Today.
“When kids come in to buy a longboard they are usually looking for something to cross-train with in the summer for snowboarding,” Andy Jones of Casualties Skate and Snow in downtown Marquette said. “I usually send the beginners to the Berry Events Center parking lot when it is vacant to get the hang of the longboard. Longboarders are always looking to get new people into the sport. They are always willing to let you just hop on their board.”
Casualties Skate and Snow was the first shop to sell longboards in Marquette.
Christina Carmanoff, a former NMU student, has seen the increase of longboards on campus and around Marquette. Carmanoff had just started snowboarding as a hobby and was interested in purchasing a longboard to keep her legs in shape.
“It looks like a lot of fun, and might be an easy way to get around campus,” Carmanoff said. “Many of my friends longboard and they are always letting me try it. I fell in love with it when I got a good workout from boarding.”
Another advantage of longboards is the general cost-effectiveness of the hobby, Jones said.
“Unlike shortboards, you don’t have to replace your longboard as much. One purchase of a longboard should be enough. That cuts down on the cost for a new hobby,” Jones said.
Because of a longboard’s extra length, it offers a smoother, more controlled ride. It’s also faster than shorter boards; so longboarders often look for terrains for carving back and forth down the hills.
The attraction that many people have to longboarding is that it’s just for cruising and not for the half pipe. Tricks can be done on a longboard but are rarely seen, and the boards are mostly just used for downhill riding and cruising through campus.
“People find them very easy to use, that is one of the biggest attractions to the sport for beginners,” Jones said.