Snowboarder Faces the Reality of Living His Dream

“Well, probably to understand what I love about snowboarding goes back to when I was a kid. I loved to fly. Like jumping out of trees, off fences, off roofs. And when you're in the air on a snowboard, gravity's pretty much gone. Or at least till you hit, and then that kinda hurts, sometimes.”

Andy Finch was 12 when his dad took him to the slopes for a day of snowboarding as a reward for good grades. When he saw what the other snowboarders were doing, he was hooked.

“And what really captured me was when a snowboarder came flying off a roller, that I'd never seen air off before, and he made it look good. I'm like, "Dad, that's what I want to do."

Living just down the road from a ski resort, Andy spent hours on the slopes. Eventually he started competing.

“I think within three or four years I'd won a national title and then I started getting sponsors, then that's when I started to meet people and get noticed and I just kept winning bigger and bigger events,” said Andy.    “I won Nationals, then I won Jr. Worlds, and the year after I won Jr. World is when I got thrown on tour.”

In 1998 he turned pro at 17 years old. He hit all the major tour stops from the World Cup to the Winter X-Games.

“I definitely had goals set in my career and I think I wanted to be the best,” said Andy. “I wanted to be known as one of the best and be at the top of the game. And it started at a grass roots level.”

But the wide open lifestyle of a pro snowboarder pulled him away from his Christian upbringing.

“I was going to travel all these new places around the world. I mean, what comes with freedom, you know?  Partying and you could kinda just blow money at will,” said Andy. “I was lying to myself about "everyone does this" that "everyone that makes it to the top someone has to go through this."
“And that was kind of a turning point where I turned my back on God.  Even though I believed He existed, I believed Jesus died for my sins, I basically said, "I'm going to go off and do this." And I went for it.”

Andy partied as hard as he competed. He also became sexually active.  The following year at the 1999 Gravity Games, he took a 40 foot fall on a quarter-pipe run –badly injuring his knee.

“And at the age of 18 I had my first major injury which just ironically happens to be probably the worst injury that's going to affect me for the rest of my life,” said Andy. “So all of a sudden I start stirring like, "Man, am I getting these injuries because I'm being sexually active because I’m disobeying God?"  

After surgery Andy took a year to recover, before returning to competition.  But now he was finding it difficult to keep his head in the game.

“But I still was able to just ignore it.  I was still able to find my support crew, focus, you know, deal with my coaches and talk through stuff and figure out my game plan and stick with my strategy.  That wasn't what turned me from my sin.”

Andy managed to push those nagging thoughts aside for another five years, as his life revolved around snowboarding, partying and sex.  That is until he started to see how his actions were hurting others.

Andy said, “Like all of a sudden so many different things are really starting to make sex not that rad, it actually started-to torture me.”   

“And along that lines, I started to see a couple of girls that I had really liked, all of a sudden I saw how I was using them and destroying their life, really messing with their heads. I saw that destruction.”

2003-2004 Season turned out to be one of Andy’s best. He’d medaled in the Winter X Games and was making more money than he ever had.  But come September he could no longer ignore the feelings of guilt that were forcing their way to the surface.

“All right, God, this is your deal. I still want to live that lifestyle, you know I still want to do those things, I know the temptations, I'm too weak, so this is your deal.”

Andy handed his life over to Jesus Christ and trusted with His help he could change.

"All right, God, this is yours.  You're sovereign God with all authority, what do you want to do with my life, cause what I’m doing is not working."

As Andy read the Bible, he found the strength to put the lifestyle behind him.

“God sees me not as just a good dude, He sees me as the glory of God – like Jesus is the glory of God, right?  He came in and did what no one else could do.  And that's how God views me?  Like are you kidding me?  I don't deserve that.  So that's pretty rad, and that's something I really mentally can't even comprehend fully, but even just a little bit is worth it,” said Andy.  

Andy continued to compete at the highest level of the sport earning him a spot on Team USA 2006 Winter Olympics.  He also married Amber that year and together they’re raising a family.
Snowboarding is still a big part of Andy’s life, but today he sees it as a way to share what Jesus Christ has done for him.

“As good as I try and be, I'm still a sinner, that I still fall very short.  I know mentally the things I struggle with now.  But I understand that God has a love for me that he's going to – I mean, he sees me as perfect, only because of Jesus, not because of anything I did.  And out of gratitude, now thankfulness, I desire to be obedient to Him.”

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