If I could summarize three snowboarding lessons in three words, those words would be challenging, fun, and humbling.
And, if we will add a fourth word, cold! But that’s a given for when you fall down into a deep blanket of snow on the side of a mountain every ten feet.
Ryan and I decided early last year that we wanted to learn how to snowboard. We live only 60-90 minutes from two ski resorts nestled in the Cascade mountains. Skiing and snowboarding are as popular out here as hiking, if not even more so.
Snowboarding appealed to both of us because we had already learned to ski and because there seemed to be less injury risk with snowboarding. Every time I fell when skiing, my legs just splayed out in different directions…ouch! But with our feet bound to a single board and a helmet on our heads, snowboarding just seemed safer. And, it also appeared more fun and laidback!
When I say I had skiied before, this was Midwest skiing. Some of the snow may have been artificial and the slopes were on hills. Out here in Washington, skiing and snowboarding are done in the mountains. And not the gentle alps that you first see when you enter the Cascades…the ski resorts are all deep in the mountain passes, at 3000 feet base elevation.
Put a pair of hiking shoes or snowshoes on my feet, and I’ll easily trek both up and down a mountain. But unlike hiking or snowshoeing, snowboarding came with a steep learning curve. You don’t just strap a board to your feet and go…you have to learn the skills of how to stand upright, turn, control your speed, and stop (and get off that darn lift).
By no means I am good at snowboarding – I still have hours of practice to do before I can make it down the gentlest of slopes without falling. Ryan has already made it down the green slopes multiple times without falling; right now, that’s my goal.
While I didn’t learn how to master that heel side to toe side turn (someday soon!), I did learn many things in our snowboarding lessons:
Being a runner doesn’t mean you are athletic.
I might be able to run a marathon, but I’m uncoordinated and inflexible. Any sport (or skill) that requires coordination takes me a while to learn. But there’s a part of my brain that assumes that, since I am a runner, I should be able to pick up other activities easily!
Give yourself some patience – snowboarding, skiing, or whatever other sport you try will take time to learn and won’t feel easy at first. Did running feel easy at first? Most likely not!
Everyone falls; it’s getting up that matters
I lost count of how many times I fell during snowboarding lessons, especially the second and third lessons on the green slopes. I fell on my butt, I fell on my knees, one time I even fell and rolled a couple times. Who doesn’t fall when learning to glide down a mountain side on a single board? But each and every time I pushed myself up with the determination to do better.
What else was my option? To lie on my butt in the (very cold) snow and not try again? To quit because I wasn’t good the first time around? Or to grit my teeth and keep trying until I finally mastered it – no matter how long it took?
Natural talent isn’t always the indicator of success. Whether you take to a new skill naturally or not, what indicate success is how much grit you have – the amount of hard work and perseverance you pour into a task.
Embrace the soreness.
Falling hurts, but honestly it’s the getting up from falling that made me the sorest. My upper body and arms ached the day after each lesson. I felt as if I had done dozens of those nasty burpees with the push ups – on an incline.
Since snowboarding moves through a different plane of motion than running, you will use different muscles. I was sore in many of my lateral muscles, including whatever muscle is on the outside of my right calf (lead foot).
Too much fear of falling causes the fall.
I need to improve on this. Each time I go to transition from heel side to toe side or vice versa, I subconsciously worry about falling over and lean uphill to counterbalance – which then leads me to falling over. It’s similar to choking during a goal race or fear of failure in the work force: the fear of failing that leads to the biggest failure.
What lessons have you learned recently?
Would you rather snowboard or ski?
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