Against the Odds - Snowboarding in Scotland

Keywords: snowboarding, youth culture, style, Scotland


I must say I quite enjoyed my first ride on the funicular railway up to the Cairngorms ski resort in Scotland. The scenery was spectacular all the way with white peaks of the Blue Mountains stretching in every direction as far as one could see. According to one of the major tourist guides, the Cairngorm Mountains, which rise up to more than 1200 metres above the sea-level, are "a sub-arctic plateau with unique flora and fascinating wildlife offering good hiking, mountaineering and a wide range of other outdoor activities." (Wilson & Murphy 2004, 300.)

At the same time, on top of the run, it was raining so hard that it felt almost as if sharp needles had been thrown at my face. Temperature had dropped to -3 degrees centigrade which was only slightly colder than down in the pine-covered valley of Glenmore, a small village about 45 minutes by car from lnverness. in practice, however, taking into account the effect of wind chill, the temperature at times felt as cold as -20 degrees centigrade. Although I have been snowboarding since the mid-1990s and have studied Finnish snowboarding for over four years now, I found myself somewhat weary wondering what it was exactly that was driving the Scottish winter sports enthusiasts forward. Thinking in retrospcct, this question later also became an important part of the research problem outlined in this article. There has to be something valuable or important enough in snowboarding that impels so many people to incorporate the sport into their lifestyle, and furthermore, to insist on doing so even in a place such as Scotland where the snow conditions are often less than glamorous. The fact that I was determined to produce an ethnographical description concerning the Scottish snowboarding scene based on these initial observations did not prevent me from worrying about the rocks, lichen and thick bushes of heather sticking out of the snow at the upper platform of the Cairngorms ski resort. Finally, however, encouraged by the cheerful attitude displayed by the other skiers around me, I too tightened my goggles and hit the slopes. (Fieldwork Joumal, Scotland February 9, 2005.)

Dec 31, 2006
How to Cite
Hänninen, R. (2006). Against the Odds - Snowboarding in Scotland. Ethnologia Fennica, 33, 48-64. Retrieved from