Snowboarding season is over (for me)! Sigh of relief. We ended the season at Telluride, on the second to last day of closing, with very little snow on the ground -it was basically slush. Although I only got out on the slopes 3 times this year, each run was crucial in my growth as a snowboarder. Based on all of the emotion that I experienced during the process, I’m not sure I could have handled any more time on my snowboard this year, it was tough.
Frustration, exhilaration, anxiety, excitement, defeat, and growth are all emotions that I experienced throughout each moment that I spent learning to snowboard. There were times all I could think about was “this is bullshit! why am I even doing this?!” and then there were times when I screamed out “I’M SNOWBOARDING!!” with the biggest smile on my face and it was like the coolest thing I’d ever experienced.
On my last run of the last day snowboarding this year, I took a hard fall that caused some pain and tears. Because I could feel myself improving, I got bold and tried to make some moves that I wasn’t quite ready for. Immediately, I knew that would be the last run of the year for me but I was thankful to have had that experience because “now I know”… After that fall, I got back up and snowboarded down to the bottom of the mountain without another fall. Confidently, I’m ready for next season and I’ve already purchased my season pass!
Here are a few lessons that I learned this year:
1. TRY SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING BOTH
A few years ago, I tried skiing in Lake Tahoe. I took lessons and I went out for a few days on my own. I SUCKED at it and I wrote it off as something I never wanted to do again. When I made the move to CO, I knew I wanted to get out on the slopes, but people told me that snowboarding is much harder than skiing so if I couldn’t ski then chances are I wouldn’t be capable of boarding. Screw those people, I am way better on a snowboard than I am on skis. Good thing I didn’t give up until I tried both.
2. TAKE A LESSON
I took a lesson the first time I skied and the first time I snowboarded – I also watched several videos on YouTube prior to going out. Had I not taken lessons, and just freestyled my first time out, I’m not sure I would have gone out a second time. The lesson is well worth the money spent, you have to trust me on that.When I went out for my first snowboard lesson, I went alone. I didn’t feel like a burden to friends and I only embarrassed myself in front of people I’ll never see again. And yes, it IS embarrassing when there are kids flying by flawlessly, and I, the adult can’t keep my balance (and I’m screaming like a little girl as I face-plant).
3. GO OUT WITH SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS
Luckily, I have the most supportive and patient boyfriend a girl could have. Although he may have preferred to be playing on more challenging (and fun) runs, he assured me over and over again that he enjoyed helping me and watching me improve, he never left my side on the slopes. I have a few snowboarding friends that I’ve asked to go out with or have considered going out with, but they felt like I would be a burden to them as I learn. Had I gone out with them, I would have probably felt discouraged and lonely – I’m glad I never did.
4. BE PREPARED TO FALL DOWN AND GET BACK UP AGAIN
Getting on a snowboard for the first time feels silly. Getting on a snowboard for the second and third time feel silly as well. I thought I was well-balanced (daily yoga) until I got on a snowboard. Mentally, you’ve got to be prepared to fall because it will happen a lot. I learned quickly that when you fall, you have to get right back up again, and again, and again, and again, I had a little breakdown on my last day snowboarding this year due to high emotion and nervousness. I only allowed myself to cry for a few seconds, I knew I had to get my ass up and get down that mountain. I think I felt more determined after the embarrassment of that breakdown, because I showed improvement. It’s ok to have a breakdown (I’ve talked to several people who have during the learning process) but it’s not ok to let it keep you from pushing forward.
5. GEAR UP
During my snowboarding lesson, I used rented gear. After that lesson, I knew that I wanted to pursue the sport so I began shopping for gear. I did a lot of research, I visited several retail stores, and I spoke to several different snowboarders before I made my purchases. I purchased a board that is ideal for beginners but will still serve me after I’ve gotten better at the sport. After I had my board, I took recommendations for bindings and boots that would work well with my board. I’ve heard horror stories from people who purchased the wrong size boot or a board that was “cheap” so I have no regrets spending the money I did and waiting to do so until I felt like I’d gathered enough knowledge. It doesn’t pay to jump in to a purchase (if you don’t believe me, you can ask my friends who did)
6. STAY LOOSE
Nervousness and anxiety can cause your body to tense up. On a snowboard you must be flexible in the mind and in the body. Things happen quick when you’re on a board – one second you’re sailing down the mountain, the next second you are face-planting. You may only be comfortable with easy runs but find yourself caught on a more difficult run – you’ve got to be prepared for the possibility. You’re going to fall (for sure!) so you’ve got to keep your body in a position that will allow you to take the most safe fall possible and you’ve got to be mentally prepared for it to happen, don’t allow the fear of falling to hold you back. Practicing yoga and/or stretching before snowboarding is helpful and most ideal – it’ll prepare your body with flexibility to use muscles that you didn’t even know existed.
7. HAVE FUN
I once inquired why it is that people become obsessed with snowboarding. I got an answer from someone who has experienced the exact reason why people become obsessed with it, but I haven’t experienced it yet so I’m not really sure how to explain what he explained to me. The few times I was able to “snowboard” down the mountain conjured up sublime emotion and exhilaration, I can only imagine how that will be amplified when it doesn’t end with a face-plant. Snowboarding is fun, and even though the learning process is frustrating, every time I’ve walked away from the mountain, it was with a huge smile on my face.
This year was a year of discovery and growth for me. Next year should be a year of improvement and pure amusement. I can hardly wait.