Big mountain snowboarder and committed globetrotter Colin Boyd comes home to a South Portland fixer-upper.Two winters ago, Colin Boyd was living in paradise. That’s how he describes Wanaka, New Zealand, anyway — a resort town nestled in a Tolkien-esque landscape of glacier-topped mountains, alpine lakes, and deep-green beech forests spilling out of the valleys. Boyd, currently ranked fourth in the world for freeride snowboarding, is a New Zealand permanent resident, holds dual American and British citizenship, has guided in Hokkaido, Japan, and is on his way to legal residency in Argentina.
More recently, though, he was engaged in some intense chimney repair in South Portland. Last winter, he and his Argentinian-born wife-to-be (then nine months pregnant) bought a Willard Beach home that’d been unoccupied for a decade. They’ve spent much of the last year wielding sledgehammers and changing diapers. So what brought the Eliot-native-turned-global-citizen back to the Maine of his youth?
“It seemed too easy to stay in paradise,” shrugs Boyd, lean and shaggy at 29. “I’ve always sought a challenging path in life.”
This is also true on the mountain, where Boyd finds lines down some the world’s most imposing peaks on the competitive Freeride World Tour. After boarding recently in the Pyrenees, on the first leg of the 2016 tour, this month, he’ll shred Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest mountain. If he performs well enough to qualify, Boyd will round out the winter with trips to Austria; Haines, Alaska (heli-boarding in the remote Chilkat Range); and Verbier, Switzerland.
Competitive freeride snowboarders plot their own course through ungroomed terrain and are scored based on how elegantly they execute their route. To the uninitiated, the sport’s language can seem arcane. When Boyd placed first during a qualifying run in Verbier last year, the press release gushed, “Boyd chose a creative line airing into a hallway between rocks, then went on to spin a frontside three off one of the bottom nuggets.” Got that?
When the tour ends in April, Boyd will settle back into Portland, family life, and the marketing company he runs when he isn’t jetsetting (in New Zealand, he used to work for a hedge fund). With a son at home, he’s tempered his attitude towards risk, but Boyd’s resisting any temptation to hang it up in favor of a comfortable 9-to-5. His best snowboarding days are still ahead of him — but he knows fatherhood and home ownership can be a slippery slope. — Jesse Ellison
Photo:freerideworldtour.com | Dom Daher