A near-death experience on the slopes wasn’t enough to turn Nathan Fisher away from the sport he loves.
The Vernon man opened his own snowboard shop, Pop Mode Board Supply, in October 2021, less than three years after he was swept away by an avalanche on Silver Star Mountain.
Located on 31st Avenue, the shop offers boards, bindings and boots as well as men’s and women’s outerwear, clothing and footwear.
“Business has been excellent,” he said. “I think I’ve sold just about 30 snowboards so far and it’s busier than I imagined, I’ve been able to grow the store and the inventory faster than I had originally expected, and people are just so excited for a new shop in town.”
It’s another blessing he counts following a life-changing incident in 2019.
It was March, and Fisher was snowboarding with his friend Tyler At SilverStar Mountain Resort. It was a strange day from the beginning — unseasonably warm at 17 C.
“Not three turns in I had set off an avalanche and I didn’t know it, and before I knew it, it was taking me down the mountain at about 60 km/hr,” he said. “I don’t know the exact speed but it was fast, and I thought that that was it — it was surreal.
Fisher lost a binding and started flipping down the mountain. Halfway down the run he hit a tree which knocked him unconscious, before a metre of wet, heavy snow washed over him.
“This tree saved my life,” he said, as it prevented him from falling further and being buried at the bottom of the run. “I came to and was like holy moly I can’t believe I’m alive.”
Fisher suffered a broken jaw, collapsed lung and a dislocated femur and shoulder, among other injuries, but miraculously there were no serious injuries to his head or spinal column. After his friend pulled him out of the snow he was taken by air ambulance to Kelowna General Hospital and underwent jaw surgery, and was then off to Vernon Jubilee Hospital where he stayed for a week and had hip surgery. After six weeks on a liquid diet, shoulder surgery and months of rehab, Fisher was lucky to make a full recovery.
“I have a new appreciation for life,” he said. “I think there was a five per cent chance of surviving that and even lesser chance of coming out without any permanent injury, so I’m just counting my blessings every day.”
The harrowing experience didn’t affect Fisher’s love for snowboarding; he was back on the slopes the following season. But it may have even given him the perspective needed to start his own snowboard business venture.
“I realized that life’s short and it’s important to do what you love and make sure that you’re happy, and yeah, I just wanted to use my potential and basically start my own thing.”
Pop Mode Board Supply can be found near the downtown Vernon bus terminal at 3105 31st Ave.