Snowboarding: Not Just For Daredevils!

I was raised in a medical background. Daddy was an EMT, Mommy claims she was a nurse, but I’m not sure if I can believe that. And Mom made sure to let me know why I was never supposed to do any of the dangerous things. I’d break my bones if I took martial arts, because I have a delicate bone structure. So I had to take ballet instead. My teeth could be knocked out by a ball. If I rode my bike in open-toed shoes, I’d get my feet caught in the chain, and they’d be cut off. If I rode a horse I’d fall off and break my neck. If I went skiing, I’d be sure to break an ankle, and I’d never be able to dance again.

This fear—this anticipation of the worst—has followed me ever since. I’m terrified of trying anything remotely dangerous. It took a lot of convincing to get me to go rock climbing for the first time. Even then, if it’s not top roping, count me out. And I was sure I would never ski or snowboard, because I didn’t want to break an ankle. Besides, ski resorts are so expensive!

All that, of course, changed when I started my current job—working at the local ski resort as a lift operator. The easiest way to get down from the top of the lifts is via skis or snowboard, naturally. And riding the lift down is such a pain.

Besides which, I was suddenly exposed to a whole new world I’d never experienced before. Skiiers and snowboarders that weren’t in a movie. I’ve watched them, at all levels, getting on and off the lift, riding down. Falling. Every coworker encouraging me to try one or both of them.

Well, even then, I knew which one I’d try, given the choice. In my mind, snowboarding made skiing look almost dorky. But it was harder to learn, according to all accounts. So skiing would be a safer choice, right? You didn’t fall as much in skis—that I could attest to, just from watching people get off the lift every day at work. So, less injuries.

But snowboarding sounded like so much more fun. And I envied everyone I saw on those lifts, with a snowboard strapped to their foot.

Besides, we weren’t allowed to wear ski boots while working.

Of course, I made myself believe that after weeks of watching others board, I could do it. So, I rented a board on my day off, and tried it out.

Pain. Lots of pain. Fall after fall after fall. Not knowing how to turn, and running into nets and nearly lift towers, besides embarrassing falls off the lift in full view of my coworkers. Landing on my butt so hard I felt it in my skull. Riding most of the way down on my sore behind.

Even though that first day was a failure, I was determined. For Christmas, I got myself my own board, boots, bindings, wrist guards and stomp pad. Now I was ready to go!

. . . Except I couldn’t just bring my new board that I didn’t know how to ride to work, where the goal was to get down the run safely and quickly and get back to work. Especially not when I was randomly assigned to the black diamond lift.

One day, though, I was talking to one of my supervisors about how horrible I was, and how I needed to figure out how to board. She told me to just bring it to work. So, I did. Lucky for me, that day was on the bunny hill. The first run was as embarrassing as the last times, but after that, I started finally grasping the heel edge, and used it. After all, I’d been watching other boarders for over a month, with a little experience behind me to know what I needed to look for in their technique! Plus, I’d watched the instructors!

Well, it took a while, but having my board with  me, being able to get in at least one run per day, has been great for me. A couple days ago, I managed my first few runs with zero falls–which was HUGE to me. And also, I seem to be naturally able to ride switch. I was doing it before I knew what it was.

If only I could figure out how to ride the toe edge, now. That still eludes me.

And, next month, I’m going to be taking my sister with me—the abusive one. She’s been expressing interest in learning. And, as I will be the driver and teacher, the one in control, I have high hopes for that day. I can’t wait! (Please, feel free to start calling me stupid right now.) I’ll get to show off my knowledge (learned through hours of reading online about snowboarding, and longer hours of being in the environment).

To say I’ve fallen in love with snowboarding just might be an understatement. It’s not only incredibly fun, but not too hard for me. The dangerous side to it is a bit thrilling—challenging my mother, challenging my own unhealthy paranoia that’s led me to avoid so much in life. I like the way it makes me feel—like I can do anything. Like I’m not some awkward girl who will never get it. It’s so. . . freeing. I can see why some people are so addicted to it.

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