Dr. Snowboard: Priest Gets Advanced Degree in Snowboarding

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We had no idea such a curriculum even existed. But where can we sign up?

Anglican minister Neil Elliot is guided by his religion first, but a close second is his affinity for shredding down sweet powder. In fact, he argues there’s a certain spirituality in hitting the slopes.

Elliot hails from Trail, B.C. in Canada, nestled in the eastern part of the province between two major mountain ranges – a perfect location for practicing his winter craft. But how did the minister fuse his faith and his passion into an educational track?

(More on TIME.com: See photos of the boarders at the Winter Olympics)

I had a lot of people who said, ‘Snowboarding is my religion,'” Elliot tells CBC News. From there, his thesis practically wrote itself. “People have had transcending experiences while riding,” he said. They’ve even coined a term for the feeling: “soul-riding.” In pursuing his doctorate at London’s Kingston University, Elliot dove into the inner emotions of snowboarding and explored the connection between boarders’ sport and spirituality.

While we can just imagine taking that freeing journey down the mountain, whipping through the air as we carve into the snow, is it really as powerful as a religion? Though it would be nice to hit the slopes and call it “research.”

(More on TIME.com: Watch snowboarders training for the Olympics)

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