When the 'mental blocks' win 

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When I saw the post from Snowboard Addiction—a local company that produces instructional snowboard videos and products—I immediately clicked.

In it, 47-year-old Mark Vorass talks about his astonishing progress, tracing it back to his embrace of Snowboard Addiction.

The post features a video that shows before and after footage of Vorass' riding.

In the first part, taken "a week before his 40th birthday," he's anything but graceful. He hits a jump, flails his arms, then half-hits a pyramid feature.

But then, in footage taken this past season, he goes all out.

Forty-seven-year-old Mark Vorass 360s in both directions; 47-year-old Mark Vorass boardslides—frontside and backside—down huge rails; and 47-year-old Mark Vorass even backside 180s out of a rail at one point.

Does he have much by way of style? Not really. But he's definitely gnarly and pushing his riding forward.

"I've made it a point to ride with people who are better than me as much as possible," he says, before moving into the requisite plug.

"I just want to say thanks to Snowboard Addiction. You've been a huge part of snowboarding for me—thanks."

As I watched the video, a thought crossed my mind, one that's plagued me most of the season—do I suck at snowboarding? If I'm not progressing, am I truly getting the most out of the sport?

Unlike some, I'm happy to admit it: I'm in awe of the guys and girls who can rip terrain parks.

There's something extraordinary about even the simplest of tricks—a frontside 360 or a backside 180—done with style.

It seems, too, that the pendulum has swung in this direction in the last few years, with a premium put on basic tricks done well rather than technical tricks that feel more gymansticy than snowboardy.

My problem is I just can't seem to muster the courage to try any of them them.

This has been especially frustrating the last month of riding. Spring is the ideal time to ride park. Jumps soften up, there's no powder, and the vibe is on point.

But this year, like last year, I found myself sticking to things I know, not pushing myself in any way.

Part of my reticence, I think, lies with the incredible calibre of riding I see here around me. Whistler Blackcomb attracts the top riders in the world, and it's not uncommon to see people from snowboarding mags—or people that damn well should be in the magazines—riding the runs. It's intimidating.

But the deeper problem seems to be in my mind. Now that I've breached 30, I've had my fair share of injuries: rolled ankles from skateboarding, dislocated shoulders from windsurfing and snowboarding, and two surgeries to account for the latter.

The dislocations, especially, were traumatic. They loom large in my mind. Whenever I think about trying something, they flood back, like some unwanted LSD flashback.

It's probably this—the ability to have the confidence to do something, to just say *&@# it and try stuff—that sets elite riders apart.

In another video from Snowboard Addiction focused on overcoming "mental blocks," instructor Natalie Sager walks you through the transcendent power of visualization, positive self-talk, and committing to tricks.

(Skills that serve you well in life—as well as sport.)

Overcoming these fears, though, seems to get harder and harder every season.

As I get older, collecting responsibilities along the way, the ability to "accept the inevitable"—that you will fall—becomes harder.

"Every time you fall, you will learn something new and know what not to do next time," says Sager.

"Repetition and practise is the only way to progress in snowboarding and falling is a part of that."

Maybe so—and maybe next year I'll get the mettle to push myself again, to tap into the enthusiasm of 47-year-old Mark Vorass and actually learn something.

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