Grandpa, grandma + 3 sons + daughter in law + 3 grandkids = the Krebernik’s, aka the Snowboarding Family. The three generations of nine riders, ranging from 1 to 74 years of age, share their passion for powder snow, snowboards and family. It all started with father Dieter, who became one of the first snowboarding instructors in Austria at 42 and in 1985 introduced the sport to his family: his wife Ingeborg and his sons Lilo, Mac and Philipp. In 1994 Lilo met his now wife Kathi, how could it be any different, at a snowboarding camp. All along the family has had strong ties with their favorite sport including competitions, snowboard movies, camps, photo shoots, world championships and last but not least their holidays.
The Snowboarding Family is a project to now digitalize old and new memories of a family centered around their advocacy of snowboarding – a, so to speak, digital family album. Being part of the Krebernik clan, our TEDxVienna member Lilo shared with us some memories and explains why for him it is important to motivate more families to ride together.
The Snowboarding Family website is indeed an unusual kind of family album. What did inspire you to create it?
Lilo: Putting up a website and going through archives was done for a few different reasons, the most important one, next to taking a trip down memory lane, was to be a resource for other parents who are unsure of if their kids could start with snowboarding right away. There are just a few websites covering this topic and by going through our family’s history we are trying to make a point. After all, our youngest brother started when he was just 2 years old. He’s 30 now. So when people ask us if it’s too early for the kids, he is a good example of how it can work.
Why share your private family moments with everyone?
Lilo: Ever since our third generation started snowboarding, we have been asked how old the kids were when they started, whether they should be skiing first or where we got the equipment from. Many people ask if they can take pictures of our kids when we are riding, so many that I stopped counting. It happens a lot. I understand why because they do look cute! Most of the time the kids are wearing helmets, goggles etc, so compared to a lot of other family activities, snowboarding is the one we don’t feel uncomfortable with when posting pictures.
By sharing our family moments we hope to encourage families to go out and act as a family. Too many young parents stop doing what they love because they are scared of how it’s going to work out. We think it’s going to work out great when you involve the whole family!
We do draw a line, especially when it comes to the grandparents and the kids. We’d never post anything that shows them in situations they don’t want to have published. We do think about privacy and talk about what images to show and which to hold back.
Your parents must be quite open minded to snowboard already in the mid 8oties. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned by sharing a hobby with your family?
Lilo: They supported us in what we wanted to do. They still do! So now we’re trying to give back, to them, to our kids, to our network of people.
The sport put us in touch with a lot of amazing people. We learned a lot about life, nature and who we are. Snowboarding is the one thing that shaped our lives and a lot of memories and experience comes with it, and it put us in touch with related things: skateboarding, arts and more.
Over the last thirty years we have seen almost every angle of snowboarding. From a beginner to competing on a professional level, from a customer to running a snowboard brand, to being designer for brands. We organised events, worked at camps, were teaching beginners as instructors. We made friends. We lost friends. We worked with resorts to build parks. I used to work as photographer and editor for different magazines. We were sponsored, had injuries that put us out of the circle and back to being a regular Joe, and now back to giving testimonials for brands. I almost completely dropped out of it and now it has dragged me back in big time.
The lesson learned? Enjoy it to the fullest and don’t blame others if you get held back. It’s up to you. Snowboarding is one of the things we love to do, with a lot of ups and downs. Hopefully we can continue to do it as long as possible. It’s been an interesting ride so far.
Your kids are learning snowboarding at a very young age. How is that working out? Compared to former times when you learned snowboarding, is there more equipment available for the little ones nowadays?
Lilo: The bigger brands offer equipment and some of them run specific programs for kids. Burton snowboards stands out with their Riglet program, with parks and events for kids from 3-6 years. A lot of resorts have infrastructure for kids and compared to skipass prices for adults, most offers for kids are reasonable. One of the things is, even though the products exist you might have problems to find boards, boots and bindings at local shops. Many don’t see this audience at the moment as most shops are too focused on the „cool“ and „core“ part. So when looking for equipment, our first choice is Blue Tomato. Not only because we have known them for almost 30 years, they also have the biggest choice when it comes to boards, boots and bindings for kids as far as I know.
To make the availability of snowboard equipment more visible and discuss products, resorts etc, it is definitely another reason why we are trying to get more involved with other parents and the industry.
The hardest part for us is going with 3 kids. Deciding which lift to use, which slope makes it fun for all of them. It works well when either a grandparent or an uncle joins us, so that each child has one person taking care of them. The one-on-one approach is important until they feel confident, but that’s probably valid for every activity.
So starting early with your child works well when you are passionate and want to have fun. We enjoy a day on the snow with the whole family. Be prepared to take breaks when necessary and listen to their needs. We never push them into going when they are tired, nor do we drag them out of their activities just because we want to go.
The most delicate question at the end: what if one of your children wants to ski?
Lilo: I don’t think it’s delicate and I also understand why people are asking this. For us it’s in no way connected. Both my parents were ski instructors for decades before starting with snowboarding, so if our kids want to ski, sure. Lots of our friends ski. Also it was a TEDx talk by the 13yrs old skier Logan LaPlant („Hackschooling Makes Me Happy“) who inspired us in the way we think about education. We recommend this talk!
We believe that kids do best when they love what they do and they can learn anything they are really into. We never push them into things and always encourage them when they love something.
But back again to the specific question, it’s obviously a great thing for the kids to have activities that also involve their grandparents, and it our case it’s snowboarding. It will never be possible with skiing, none of us have touched a ski in almost 30 years, so I guess they are more likely to start skateboarding, spraypainting or breakdancing.
Images kindly provided by the Snowboarding Family.