When I took a snowboarding trip to Colorado just after Christmas 2008, I didn’t think it would take long to get the hang of it.
Foolishly, I chose to enroll in the afternoon instructional course, due to start hours after we arrived at the resort. No problem, I thought — I’ll just take a few practice runs down the beginner slopes to refresh my memory.
I made it down those first few slopes thanks only to gravity and unwavering determination. I fell down as quickly as I caught my balance atop the board, all the while praying to avoid a concussion and cursing my impatience.
Defeated, banged up, but otherwise in one piece, I decided to take a breather and wait for help from a professional. The instructional course was a group session with several of my friends. I took a similar class during my first trip to Colorado when I was 9 years old, and slowly the tips began sounding familiar.
The first advice we received proved to be the most effective: “You will usually go wherever you are looking.” That means don’t look down. Or at a tree. Or at other snowboarders.
The instructor also taught us how to make turns and how to slow down, which would have been helpful before I tumbled down the bunny slopes.
The class lasted a few hours, which was just enough time for me to rebuild my confidence. I returned to the beginner slopes afterward to keep practicing, with slightly better results than before.
By the end of the day I realized this venture would take more time than I imagined, which is why I recommend staying in the mountains as long as possible if you plan to snowboard. It could take days before you’re able to stay upright long enough to enjoy yourself.
That was when the fun began.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of soaring down the Rockies amid a picturesque landscape I recognized only from oil paintings and Christmas movies. The cold air filled my lungs, providing chilly relief from the fire slowly building in my knees and thighs. Breaking your concentration can be dangerous, but it’s difficult not to look up and absorb the awe-inspiring scene.
Learning to snowboard may take more time and hard work than you expect, but once you get the basics down, it’s hard to imagine a more rewarding way to spend a vacation. Just be prepared to check your ego at the door — it won’t cushion your falls.