If you are picturing a girl thrashing her arms around wildly, you wouldn’t be too far off. It’s not that I’m not athletic at all; I have been doing jiu jitsu off and on for around 5 years now. You would think I would get some skills out of that. But I have not been a particularly graceful individual during my 30 some years. Cups fly off tables, icy patches of pavement dare me not to fall on my ass, and if I risk drinking coffee while driving there is a very valid chance it will end up in my lap.
But you can’t let that stop you, right?
When we finally set out Saturday morning, on Feb. 8th, I was bundled up in borrowed snow gear and in line at the beginner building waiting to get my instructions on how to obtain the rentals. Jake was off parking the car. We would meet up later, after I had spent a few hours in the group lessons.
My very first thought as I headed to Lesson area #1 was how I was not going to freak out going downhill at fast speeds with something attached to my feet.
In the end though you just have to suck it up and do it. The lessons go pretty gradually. Everyone else there is falling on their ass, or cursing out snowboarding as much as you are. You learn the motions. Heel turns. Toe Turns. I spent at least an hour in this section–especially on the toe turn.
I think maybe most of my sport related experience has been too often video games, because my first instinct before even seeing an instructor do anything was to try the heel turn over the toe turn. I am decently positive this is a result of a snowboarding video game. Or maybe it just feels more natural to dig your heels in, instead of pressing down on your toes. It was around the end of the turning lessons that Jake appeared again, and I agreed (begrudgingly) to take the lift with him to the first small beginner hill.
I spent the rest of the day mostly falling a lot, and trying to get up . . . a lot.
By the end of the day when Hunter was starting to close, I had managed to stop with the heel turn fairly better. The toe turn I could turn with, but not stop. I was afraid to commit to it. It felt so odd and unnatural to have my back facing the ground, and my front facing up the mountain. I also did a lot of floundering around, as I mentioned in the beginning. I think when you start to learn things like this you just can’t stop yourself from reacting instinctively. Like a half drowning swimmer surrounded by a shark or two.
The next morning on Sunday we did it all again, except that I didn’t last as long. I also started to get really cold after a few runs down the beginner. All the energy wasted on falling down and getting up didn’t leave as much endurance left for the good stuff. My biggest victory at the end of the day was being able to slow down and control myself well enough at the bottom of the beginner hill to stop by the ski lift without loosing my balance or falling. I just braked, slowed to a nice stop right past a few other snowboarders, and bent down to unlatch my boot.
Hey, I’ll take what victories I can.