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Anglican Vicar Earns World's First Snowboarding PhD

Vicar BoarderAn Anglican vicar who studied the spirituality of snowboarding has received the world’s first doctorate in the sport from London’s Kingston University.

Reverend Neil Elliot, or Dr. Soulride as his congregation in St. Andrew’s Church in Trail, British Columbia refers to him, has been an avid snowboarder of 15 years and decided to investigate spiritual experiences felt by some boarders on the mountains.

According to Elliot, the PhD subject developed through an internet forum. During his research, he interviewed 35 snowboarders who described spiritual moments they had experienced. “My aim was to see what it meant for riders and if it was spiritual," he said.

He added, “I learnt that for many people spirituality does not need to include either God or any structures or institutions.”

Elliot believes of soul-riding, "for some, riding becomes a meditation...they are present and not present, time stops, concerns, worries, even self-awareness fall away. They talk of moments of bliss."

Elliot said of his PhD, “my hope now, apart from soul-riding as much as possible, is set up a course on soul-riding – to help people find the soul in their riding, and to enjoy the mountain whatever the conditions.”

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