Sliding out of my Comfort Zone: This Skier tries out Snowboarding!
Read any of my past blogs and it's not very hard to pick up that I'm a skier and I love doing it. There's just something about the feeling of sliding down the mountain with the wind against my face, the sound of the snow crunching beneath my skis, and the smell of fresh air and Adirondack wilderness around me.
Despite having only learned to ski 6 years ago, it is something that has become such a part of my life, and such a source of joy for me, that it sometimes strikes me odd when someone says that they haven't ever tried it or don't see themselves making that dive into the sport.
Enter: World Snowboard Day
When I was in college, my project for graduation had to do with experts vs. laymen and their view on the world. Long story short, experts can never go back and see the world (or their part of it) from the eyes of a novice. Our brains just don't let us do that.
Working in the ski industry, I thought it would be a good idea to try something new and try to step into the shoes of a novice. How could a skier do that? Well, by trying to pick up snowboarding.
Lucky for me, every year Titus Mountain celebrates World Snowboard Day -- is a day focused on promoting the sport and opening the lifestyle to the masses with a multitude of free activities. Titus Mountain participates by offering free snowboard rentals and a free snowboard lesson to those who want to try snowboarding (or "the dark side" as skiers lovingly call it). So I grabbed a friend and we hit the slopes as snowboarders :)
Step 1: Fitting
The first part of learning to snowboard is getting the proper equipment. Lucky for us, our instructor, Bob, helped us out right from the beginning. The first thing that I learned about snowboard equipment is that snowboard boots are WAY more comfortable than ski boots -- so if you ever tried the sport and didn't like the feeling of ski boots, snowboarding might be the way to go!
The guys from the rental counter were also super helpful in helping us decide whether we had a "goofy" or "regular" stance which determines your snowboard set-up. When we both decided that we would snowboard more naturally with our right foot at the back of the board and our boots were laced up, we were ready to hit the slopes!
Step 2: Sliding
Bob lovingly told us that the first time we tried to stand on the snowboard we would feel like we were standing on a lunch tray heading down the hill with no sense of control. Boy was he right! The first time that I was able to stand up on my snowboard it was the oddest sensation... and it did almost bring me back to years ago when I tried skiing for the first time. Here it was -- I was a novice again!
The first few times on the snowboard we would just walk partway up the hill, strap on the board, and head down the short distance to get the feel of the "sliding." It was definitely out of my comfort zone but I was determined to make a set of full turns by the end of the day! Finally, after being able to make my first turn and stop, Bob took me on to the Magic Carpet and it was time to try out this whole sliding thing from farther up the learning hill.
Step 3: Turning
Finally! I was at the top of the Magic Carpet, which as a first-time snowboarder felt like the top of the world. All I had really accomplished was being able to slide and stop successfully, and had yet to make a full turn, but here I was, ready to "hit the slopes."
My first turn... was a fail! I fell, but Bob was right there to pick me up and give me pointers on what I did right and what I did wrong. He patiently helped me up the first, second, and third time I fell. After that he told me that he had the confidence that I could pick myself up... and I did.
I was finally able to make a complete turn, with Bob's pointers, and then I was able to string two turns together. By the end of my hour lesson I knew how "it felt" to turn... and asked Bob to teach me for another hour because I was determined to become a pro snowboarder by the end of the day.
I told Bob how frustrated I was that I wasn't picking it up. "I'm a skier. I know what I'm doing -- this should be easy for me," I lamented. Bob assured me and told me something that stuck: "Skiing is easy to pick-up and hard to master. Snowboarding is hard to pick-up and easy to master. Just keep going."
And that's what I did for the rest of the day -- I kept going.
My Final Thoughts
I had finally put myself in a position of a novice, after years of working in the industry and skiing. And I could finally make an assessment that I may not have been able to make before.
- Your first time might be frustrating (if you are anything like me and like doing things well from the start). Your second time might be frustrating. But at the end of each day, when you recount the positives of the day and the stories that happened throughout, it's worth it.
- Lessons are key - Bob not only was helpful for the mechanics of snowboarding and starting out, but he was also there for moral support. It was great to have that support system and made the day that much better.
- Just like World Snowboard Day states, it's not just the act of snowboarding that matters... it's the lifestyle. And half the fun of the day of falling and getting back up again, was getting to explain to all of my ski friends the fun that I had trying something new. And the drinks we had at the end of the night, recounting our favorite trails. And at the end of the day, snowboarder or skier, we had memories that would take us until the next time we were on the slopes.
So skier or snowboarder, novice or expert... my recommendation is it's time to hit the slopes and "slide out of your comfort zone." Take it from this novice (and "expert") -- it will be well worth the try!
There's still plenty of winter left to try out a new activity and the Malone Region has plenty to choose from. Plan to spend a weekend and hit the slopes snowboarding, skiing, or tubing. While you're here, you may also want to hit the backcountry and take a stab at ice fishing, snowmobiling, or maybe cross-country skiing!