Learn to snowboard


When I was about 10 I tried on a pair of skis for the first time, and since then I have been skiing in the neighborhood of 6-10 times. At about the same time, my dad bought me a snowboard, which I had absolutely no luck with! I took it to the local tobogganing hill in Woodstock a couple of times, but I was never able to get anywhere on it but straight backward onto my rear end.

Last year as I was thinking of things I wanted to do / accomplish in life, snowboarding came to mind. I hope that with some more effort and a littler persistence, I'll be zipping down a ski hill on a snowboard.

January 2008

This month we had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Horseshoe Valley at Carriage Hills. Charles, Ryan and I spent Saturday at the ski hill, and I was happy to discover in the afternoon that I was able to trade in my ski rental for a snowboard. Off I went to the baby hill.

Let me start by confirming what everyone says: Snowboarding is far more difficult than skiing. It requires a lot of balance and it feels quite unnatural. I didn't have a lesson, so it was just me, my board, and the snow. What I discovered first was that I could balance on the front edge of the board ok (standing looking up the hill / with my back facing down the hill), but any time I tried to lean backwards onto the back edge of the board (standing looking down the hill), I'd immediately fall onto my butt.

The guy at the top of the chair lift recommended that I try going down the hill on my front edge (with my back facing down the hill), and when I got towards the edge of the hill, I could just point the other side of the board down and therefore head back across the hill still on the front edge of the board, and still with my back facing down the hill. I realized that I was already sort of doing this, but firming this up in my mind helped quite a bit and I did a few runs down the hill with this strategy.

While I was having a good time, I noticed that everyone else on snowboards had their foot bindings pointing the opposite way to mine. I flashed back to the conversation that I had with the equipment rental person. He had asked whether I wanted my right or left foot at the front of the board. I had no idea, so I asked "Does it depend on whether you're left or right handed", and the guy said no, it doesn't really matter. So I chose to have my right foot at the front of the board. Great, because what he failed to tell me is that everyone and their mother prefers their left foot at the front. Oh well.

The baby hill was a great start, but as gentle as the baby hill is, it has its disadvantages. First, the lift line takes 3-4 times as long as the regular hill, because it is overcrowded, slower, and only takes 2 people at once. Secondly, for snowboarders, you never really get enough momentum to allow you to ride on your back edge. As I have learned, it only really makes sense to balance on your back edge once you have a bit of speed. For these reasons, I left the baby hill after 5-10 runs. Off I went to the easiest non-baby hill, which was far far steeper!

All things considered, I did very well, and after a few runs I was only falling a couple of times on my way down the hill, even using my back edge a little (mostly for stopping). Woo hoo! I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to go snowboarding, hopefully with Meredith this time.