Snowboarding anyone?

I could barely move this morning. Correction! Everything hurt when I moved this morning. And not because I fell while learning to Snowboard (which I did) but because I used all kinds of new muscles. Muscles in my back and behind my knees. Muscles that did not feel like doing anymore work today.

I recently turned thirty-three and decided it was time to learn to Snowboard. I have always wanted to try it and a four-day weekend and trip to Tahoe seemed like the right conditions. So I signed up at Heavenly for three days of Snowboarding Lessons.

Day 1:
Should I give you the play by play or just skip to the part where I start falling? It doesn't take to long to get to the falling so I will start at the beginning. I checked in at Heavenly as they opened their doors at 8:15 AM. I then got my rental equipment (boots and a board) and waited for an hour for my lesson to start. I reported to my lesson here:

And then was told to go to this sign where I waited a bit longer. I have NEVER done any kind of winter sports and did not know what to expect. Secretly I wished I would "get it" and it would be easy, but I knew it was going to be hard. Nevertheless, I really liked that I was already being referred to as a "Snowboarder".

Our group was divided into First Timers, Second Timers and Third Timers. I was with 8 people in a First Timer group. Our instructor was named Kurt. He started by showing us how to strap one foot in and move around with this HUGE SNOWBOARD attached to one foot (the most unglamorous thing about Snowboarding) and then how to "slide and glide" and do a toe and heel stop. He explained all these concepts about boarding and next thing I know we are strapped in with both feet and trying to do a "heel skid". This is when you are going down with your board perpendicular to the "mountain". The perfect position to do a face plant snow angel. Did I do this? No. I was stuck on the ground and couldn't get up.

As a beginner, you sit down to strap in your feet and then you are supposed to do this rock up move while holding the board in one hand and pushing off with the other. I was stuck on the ground. Every time I would try to rock up I would get part way there and my board would start to slide down hill and I would land on my bum. Great way to start the morning. After the majority of my class had "taken off" to try heel skids, Kurt came over and helped me up. I made it part way down the training hill before eating it. My balance is off on the heel side and I lean back to far... thus gravity takes hold and I fall. And then can't get up with the rocking motion. It was very humbling and the lesson was just starting. I had FIVE more hours to go.

After a few more runs down the training hill, Kurt told my group we were going to take the tram up the hill to another place to practice our heel skids. "This hill" he told us, "would be easier to get up on because it was steeper". Okay. Steeper hill? Easier to get up... I would give it a try. This is the view that gave me courage at the top of the tram

Should I just skip to the good part? The hill did not help. The heel skid was a huge problem for me because I would get up (eventually and with help) and then skid a little down hill, over-compensate on the heel stop and fall. BUT the opposite of a heel skid is a toe skid and it turns out I was much better at these. A toe skid is when you are facing the "mountain" and skidding down backwards. To get up to a toe skid you start on your hands and knees and push up. So much easier then the one hand rock up move. I did fall with the toe skids too but is was mostly because my calves were on fire or I leaned to close to the "mountain".

Just so we are on the same page about the basics of Snowboarding, this is what I learned. In Snowboarding you are on your toes or heels most of the time. If not you are probably on the ground like me. Oh look, here is another picture of me, on the ground, where I spent most of my first day.

I was the slowest person in the class. Kurt next took us to a real ski run. HELLO! I have had 2 hours of experience and you want me to go down this hill? I wanted to cry behind my hip goggles. The idea was to change the heel skid / toe skid into a traverse where we would control our speed by skidding, but angle ourselves across the run instead of skidding straight down it. I guess it was a great idea, but I spent the majority of my time crashing to the ground. Kurt (the instructor) stayed with me, helping me down the hill, giving me encouragement and tips. I felt bad to be monopolizing his time, but really grateful for the help. He told me it was strange for someone to be better at toe then heel. At least I had something going for me.

At the bottom of the hill, I had my first experience with the chair lift. It did not go well. I started slipping on the ice as the chair was coming around and would of had my knee taken out if Kurt hadn't picked me up right before it got to me. Then I did the run again, falling the whole way down and then proceeded to fall off the chair lift the second time around and had to crawl out of the way. I could barely pick my self up from this last fall and realized I was done for the day. I had made it to 3PM. My class was going for one more (new) run down the hill and I told Kurt I was done.

I thought my arm was broken. I was limping from twisting my knee. I was trying to think of what to say to T and my Uncle when they picked me up. All I could think to say was "I think my arm is broken".

The first day of Snowboarding is the worst day you will ever have Snowboarding. I realize that now, but that night, I lost most of my confidence. I knew what to expect the next morning and it didn't look pretty.

Day 2 found T and I at Heavenly. He was going to ski and try to meet me for lunch. I was standing in line at the ski/board school counter when an instructor asked if I had any questions. I did. My first day had been so miserable I thought I should repeat level one again. Did she think I should do that? The answer was no. No? Really? She said I should go for the level 2. That if there were more advanced level 2s they would be put in a separate group. I would be with the beginning level 2 group. Another instructor told me the same thing. Day 2 found me in the level 2 group and I was back with my same instructor Kurt. I kept waiting for him to tell me I should be in with the level one group....

But something amazing happened. I kind of got Snowboarding. We started with the heel skid and toe skid traverses and I could (mostly) do them. Then we went to the same first little hill and I made it all the way down with out falling, on my heels. I was doing what was called a falling leaf pattern, going from side to side. I could not believe it. I was at about the same level as most of the people in my class. Snowboarding was almost fun.

Kurt took us to that same run I had crashed down the day before and I was not that bad. I fell a few times but I was making it down the hill. And then I made it off the chair lift, without falling. T and I met for lunch and I couldn't believe how much better this day was. After lunch I was back to the run and still doing okay. The day moved on and I was feeling good. We moved on to the last run I had missed the day before and Kurt showed us how to link turns. Now I had all the tools I needed to make it down the hill. Linking turns is scary and I was only able to go from a toe side to a heel side turn. The heel side to toe side just wasn't happening. Considering that the day before I could barely peel myself off the mountain I was feeling great with how this day ended up. I even took a few runs on my own. Kurt told me he could not believe how much better I was. Neither could I.

This morning I woke up and was sore! The back of my legs screamed at me all day and my back has found new muscles. My knees are bruised and I am ready to go again! In two weeks I am back for my third lesson. This time I will bring knee pads, wrist guards and some confidence.

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