Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Snowboarding Fail

Will and I both had last Friday off and decided to hit the slopes.  I had bought a 4-pack of lessons for Winter Park, thinking Will could really figure out how to snowboard (he's ok, but I think he needs some instruction so he will really enjoy it).  I said I'd use one of the lessons to learn how to snowboard myself. 

I think I learned how to ski when I was 5.  At any rate, I've been skiing for 30+ years.  That's a long time when you think about it.  In the past, Will and I have only had maybe one day a year to hit the slopes.  Will usually was good for a half day of snowboarding before the frustration took over and he was done.  I would spend the whole day skiing.  Will wanted me to take a snowboarding lesson, but each time I'd refuse because I was NOT going to spend my one day a year on my ass hating life.

Now we live here and I have a season pass.  I think that means I have more than one day a year on the mountain.  This also means I didn't have an excuse to not give boarding a try.

I went into it knowing I'd be spending the whole day on my ass, but I was optimistic.  I'm a great skiier.  I was excited to learn something new from scratch.  Think about it, how often do you get the opportunity to learn something completely new?  I went into this with an open mind.  I came out with very bruised knees and probable moderate whiplash.

The 4-pack had two options.  A semi-private lesson whichs started at 11:30, meaning we'd waste the morning waiting for the lesson to start.  Or an all-day group lesson with lunch included.  We did the group lesson.  I know Will was hoping to be in my group, but he can do things like stand, turn, and stop.  I could not.  He was placed in the beginner group.  I was placed in the novice group.  And we parted ways for the day.

Winter Park.  See all those trails?  Well, I didn't go on hardly any of them.
I had ~10 people in my group, ranging from high schoolers to some guy who was maybe in his 40's.  I wasn't the oldest, but I was probably the second or third oldest.  At least I had altitude and endurance training to my advantage, as most people were from out of state. 

We started the lesson figuring out our bindings.  Pain in the asses, those bindings are.  We strapped one foot in and practiced scooting along like you'd ride a skateboard.  Only I'd never ridden a skateboard so the motion was incredibly awkward. We practiced scooting up the hill like that.  Hey, I was good at this and beat everyone up the hill.  Then we practiced turning by leaning back towards our heels with our back to the hill (one foot strapped in, the other loose).  Ok, it felt weird, but I got it.  Next we practiced turning by leaning forward on our toes.  Got it.

Then it was time to go up the lift!  Scary!  We had very minimal instruction on going up the lift.  I figured I could fake it, if needed.  The guy who was supposed to ride up with me freaked out, almost got tangled up in the lift side pole, freaked out even more and didn't make it onto the lift.  At the top of the lift, I successfully dismount and did not crash.  We all got to the top, but were missing random guy, so our instructor zoomed down the mountain to get him.  Only as soon as the instructor took off, random guy appeared.  Ugh.

First lesson - standing up.  You can either sorta dig you heels in and magically stand up or you can be a yoga master and dig your toe side in, do a back bend sort of thing, and stand up.  The easier sounding way didn't work for me - I kept sliding down the hill as I tried to stand up.  Good thing I've done a bunch of yoga, as that worked for me.

We finally made it over to the "bunny hill" area, which is a bit weird since its mid-mountain.  We practiced falling leaf patterns, where you zig-zag across the run.  First we practiced leaning back to our heels and turning/stopping, then going across the other way.  It was awkward.  Also: it was easy to lean the wrong way (down the hill) and fall on your hands and knees (and face).  Knees don't have much padding.  Falling on them hurts. After a few runs of that, we practiced going "toe side", where you face uphill and lean towards you toes to turn and stop.  This was HARD.  Very tough on the calves and feet, as you're almost tippie-toe.  Heel side is much easier, even if its hard on the quads.

Cropped view of the area I snowboarded.  Yes, that tiny yellow shaded area.  Very sad.
The hill we're on is pretty flat.  Half the time I have to jump around or throw my feet around to get going.  A bunch of the time, my balance sucks and I crash. 

Lifts suck on snowboards.  First, you have to undo your back foot and scoot around everywhere.  Then if you don't angle your leg just right  as you get on the lift, your knee gets turned awkwardly as you take off.  Then the dismount.  The bunny hill lift has a harder dismount than the first lift we went up.  So you'd point the board perpendicular to the lift and place your free foot on top of the board.  Then you'd gently push off the lift and coast downhill.  Each time, I'd crash HARD on my tailbone.  Only I couldn't sit there and curse to myself.  I would have to gather myself and move quickly out of the way.  Then I'd have to stand up (which isn't hard when you have one foot free) and scoot to where my lesson people were, sit down, and buckle my feet in.  Buckling in sucks.  You wouldn't think it sucks, but it does.  Especially since, when I ski, there is none of this up and down, crash, stand, sit, buckle business.  You just get off the lift and go.

So after ~maybe 2 hours of this ride the lift, crash, sit and listen to our instructions, board falling leaf style, crash a ton, and ride up to do it again, it's lunch time.  We board part of the way to the lunch spot (Snowasis), only the slope isn't quite right and we get stuck and need to walk most of the way there.  We have lunch and walk back to our little bunny hill.  Only we had to walk through a pretty busy flat spot, where the skiiers/boarders hauled ASS to get through.  So it was like we were playing frogger.  Not cool.

Apparently over lunch I'd forgotten what I learned that morning.  I was having a lot of issues and crashed pretty hard backwards, which made me really appreciate the free helmet that came with my rental.  Yup, definitely not liking things.  And each time you crash, each time you have to awkwardly stand up.  And each time, you'd have to flop your board around to position it so you can stand up.  Such a pain in the ass.  I finally figured out that I could face the mountain, stand up with my back pointing downhill.  But that was only ok if it was flat enough for me to hop around 180 degrees so my face was pointing downhill.  If it was too steep for that, I'd have to get up the other (more challenging way).  Somewhere along the way, I tweaked my shoulder and my hand.  My knees were killing me.  And my ass was well on its way.  We practiced some more, in a way that was more like "real" snowboarding, where you point the thing downhill and use your heels and toes to guide you.  I'd get freaked out and heel it all the way down, which was a ridiculous quad workout.  I think I had maybe 2 runs total where I didn't crash.  They wweren't fast runs, but I didn't crash.  I think at the end of the day, I had 3 lift dismounts that were successful. And each time up the lift, I was spending more and more time (while buckling my foot to the board) gathering my wits to head back down.

So I'm watching my watch (please, when will this end!).  I was trying to figure out how we were going to get down the mountain to the base.  Lessons ended at 3, and it was 2:40.  Our instructor gathered us and announced that we'd be heading down after another run.  I asked how we were getting down, if we only had 20 minutes.  He replied that we were walking to the Gemini lift (the one we originally took up), and TAKING THE LIFT DOWN.  I have never in my life had to ride a lift DOWN.  Oh, the humiliation!  Ugh.

We got to the base and I found Will.  I'd seen Will a few times during the day (he was on the same bunny hill for part of the day), but he generally kept his distance since he knew I wasn't happy.  He had a good lesson and learned somethings.  I had an awful day.  Honestly, the best part was riding the lift up each time.  It was a spectacularly sunny day with fresh snow on the mountains.  Beautiful.  But I was dead.  And frustrated. And sore.  And I missed my skiis.

So we went and had beers and really tasty gorgonzola/spinach/artichoke/bacon dip at the Cheeky Monk and then went home.  I told Will he can have the remaining 2 lessons.  I'm not snowboarding ever again. :/

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