A British priest living in Canada has earned what some are calling the world's first doctorate in snowboarding after completing studies on the sociology of religion at London's Kingston University. Reverend Neil Elliot's PhD thesis explored the connection between snowboarding and spirituality and drew on his passion for the sport. Elliot, who has snowboarded for 15 years, moved from England to Trail, British Columbia in 2005 to be closer to major mountains. He is currently vicar at St. Andrew's Church in Trail, where his parishioners nicknamed him "Dr. Soulride." The idea for his thesis came from an online discussinon in which fellow riders discussed feeling moments of "zen." In exploring the idea, he eventually spoke with 35 snowboarders. "Riders found it sometimes all went silent and it was just them and the snow," he told the Evening Standard. In part, his research suggests that while church attendance down, spirituality remains important to younger people.
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