Snow, Boards & Breaks: An Interview With John Lidstone

overcoming life obstacles

At first glance, John Lidstone seems like a regular guy. Attired in a sweater and jeans, he sits down across from me and begins…

John, a 30 something business professional with a passion for snowboarding has had quite the journey.
He’s overcome two life altering injuries and in many ways defied the odds that were against him.

Starting at the age of 21 months, John was put on a pair of skis by his parents, and quickly found a passion for the slopes. At 17, when the hill his family frequented decided to allow snowboarding John decided to try it out.

With his parents unwilling to invest in a second set of equipment, he found a job at a local marina saving his earnings to purchase a board and at the insistance of his mother, signed up for a lesson.

One lesson is all it took for John to determine that snowboarding was not only something that he wanted to do, but something that would help define his identity for the next 20 years.

The following summer he headed out west and attended the Camp of Champions and that winter John became certified as a Level 1 instructor.

pro snowboarder suffers setback

Though his heart was on the slopes, John attended University completed his Honors BA in International Conflict, Canadian Studies, and History, which helped during the off-season when he found employment with the Ministry of Tourism.

By 21 years old, John was a Level 2 instructor and was a Freestyle Coach. A series of family illness kept him close to home, finishing his undergrad while taking care of his mom.

In 2001 he was offered a job as a snowboarding co-ordinator and qualified as an examiner teaching entry level instructors. He made it into the top 5% in all of Canada getting his Level 3 Certification and qualifying as a Level 2 Examiner.

John seemed to be on top of the world, he had two amazing careers and a social life that would make him the envy of most. He enjoyed plenty of recognition including having multiple sponsors from energy drinks to boards, clothing, and everything in between. John never anticipated his life changing the way it did …

pro snowboarder suffers setback
It was a calm summer morning in August, while out on the water wakeboarding (something John did during the off-season to continue his training) he overshot his wake and was sling-shot into the water.

It was all over in an instant, John recalls, “I overshot the wake and hit the water hard.  The impact cracked my board and caused my knee to buckle.” The result…a fully severed ACL, MCL, and PCL.

The injury was devastating and it would take months before John could undergo the surgery he needed in order to start recovering.

The surgery was performed in the early part of the winter and by January, he could put some weight on his leg.

“The YMCA was amazing” John adds ” they gave me a free pass so I could use their pool which helped with my recovery”.
pro snowboarder suffers setback

While his recovery was intensive and time consuming, John still managed to find ways to stay involved in the snowboard industry.

His boot, clothing, and board sponsor for example, worked out an arrangement where John could keep his sponsorship in exchange for his managing their regional website.

By April, John was back to work and by the end of October, he was cleared to ride again.  John re-entered the snowboarding world as a Level 2 Examiner, coach and coach examiner.

Back in snow for less than two months, John was running race training for a high school team and decided to do a run while they were on their lunch break. Spinning off of a rail the nose of his board jammed in a rut. The result was a shattered fibula.

Unlike the last injury, surgery had to be quick. He was operated on within 72 hours to avoid the bones calcifying and potentially eliminating movement in the ankle joint.

One cast, two crutches, and a cane later John was back to walking on his own again and even managed to get back on his board for the final day of the season.
pro snowboarder suffers setback

Presently, John is the Facility and Property Manager for the Charitable Gaming Centre, which provides direct funding to 55 Local Charities.

He manages a staff of 30 and also sits on a provincial stakeholder committee. With all that John has accomplished, I asked him if he feels like he’s missed out on anything.

Relationships have been a challenge due to his hectic work schedule and the long hours on the hill …

“It’s hard to find someone who is able to accept the crazy schedule I have”, he adds “but it’s not impossible. It’s about finding someone who shares common interests and who lives a similar lifestyle at least in the schedule aspect.”

When asked what he thinks about the concept behind 3 dates 3 months his answer is “it’s great because it matches you based on your interests and your schedule which is so important these days!”

With online dating he says that even though there are many pros to it there are also a few cons … “there’s this preconceived built in relationship that is established before ever meeting that person and it can be a bit of a letdown when two people finally do meet and realize they are nothing like they thought.”

pro snowboarder suffers setback
I asked John if he knows what he wants in a relationship. He’s pretty quick to answer; “a shared chemistry, level of intellect so we can have a mentally stimulating conversation, someone who is physically active and preferably enjoys spending time outdoors.”

John closes our interview by saying that he considers himself a bit of a pragmatist in that he takes life in stride, always hoping for the best but is prepared for the worst.

John has certainly overcome the worst and with all that he has accomplished in life perhaps now John is ready to find happiness and love. Relationships are hard work and there are many variables that work against sustaining one in our generation.

In order to really achieve a long term commitment with someone, there needs to be an equal amount of understanding, recognition, and effort to see that each person’s goals in life are supported and encouraged.

By : Tammy-Ann Chapman

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