In the interest of full disclosure and the spirit of honesty, I should let you know that I am addicted to a fine white powder. It goes up my nose, down my front, it causes me to disappear at weekends, it costs me money I could spend on more useful things and causes me pain. I’m talking about snow. What the hell did you think I meant? And if you think “Snow” is a euphemism, no, I’m talking about crystals of frozen Di hydrogen monoxide. You see, This year I was finally able to get some serious snowboarding time.
About five years ago my ex and I decided that it was stupid not to make the most of our winter trips to Whistler so we enrolled the kids in ski school and signed up for adult lessons for ourselves. Of course, the kids took to it like ducks to water, or should that be penguins to snow? My son because he loves anything technical and my daughter because she is the consummate athlete. Having worked in a sports medicine clinic I was fully aware of the pain, time and money involved in ACL tear repair, so I was the lone snowboarder in the family – It’s one piece of equipment instead of four, and you’re fixed securely to it. I’ve yet to hear of anyone being impaled by his own board. Have you?
For a couple of winters I took a couple of lessons, so managed to get a grasp of the basics, but the cost of rental equipment meant in went no further than that. The next year I didn’t so much as sniff snow (no pun intended), but last year I finally bought the necessary gear after a long search. My height and size 12 feet meant I needed the longest, widest board I could find to avoid going base over apex due to my toes or heels digging in during a turn or the tip digging in as I put my weight on the front foot. I know the fashion is for shorter boards, but let’s face it, width is as least as important as length. Wouldn’t you agree, ladies?
At least I managed a couple of trips during what was last season’s perfectly crappy weather. On one trip I didn’t so much need board boots as flippers! I didn’t break anything but did manage to fall backwards and smack my visual cortex so hard the entire world turned red for a brief flash. I always wear a helmet, so at least the world didn’t go black.
This year has been much better. After a couple of solo trips I convinced my sweetie to come along. She hasn’t skied since junior high, so she signed up for lessons and off we went. The first couple of trips were all weekend affairs but we soon settled on single night stays, booking a room at an hotel which at least is a clean place reasonably priced, but in need of some TLC.
After some group lessons, I bowed to sense and booked a private lesson so I could master my nemesis, the heel-edge turn. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but trying to teach it to myself was a frustrating affair to say the least. Two hours of one on one instruction seemed to do the trick, and seeing as it cost no more than two group lessons, but with 100% of the instructor’s attention it was money well spent.
Now before you get the idea that I’m some sort of “Better shred than dead” type, think again. I’m too old to throw caution to the wind and will admit to not being a speed merchant, but I get down the slope in one piece, and usually one go. Managing six consecutive runs down an easy slope with no falls may not sound like much to you hard core board hounds ( you know who you are), but I’ll take any A.M whiff of Napalm I can get. Most of the other boarders are half my age, and some of them only one tenth my age, but hell, this is my first full season, so pogue mahone.
What really amazes and cracks me up in equal parts is the five to seven year olds zipping down the slope at full throttle without a care in the world. I envy their lack of fear. The show-off teens and twenty somethings I find laughable. There is so much posturing involved that I feel that were this the 1950’s they would all be sitting in their hot rods in the parking lot of the local diner. Oh tempora, oh mores.
One thing that still stuns me is the number of people without helmets. I realise there is no legal requirement, but isn’t it common sense? Oh hang on, I’ve just seen the flaw inherent in that last sentence. I don’t have much of a brain ( please, don’t all contradict me at once) but it’s the only one I have and replacements aren’t available, so it makes sense to me to take care of it. What I really, truly don’t understand is the parents who don’t wear helmets but insist that their kids do. What kind of message does that send? I’ve always worn a helmet around the kids, whether on a board or a bike. How else are they supposed to learn how to behave except through seeing their parents model appropriate behaviour.
I guess some people just don’t get it. For instance, in Whistler during the summer, the ski runs become bike runs and it is not uncommon to see people cycling home from the slopes along the highway wearing so much body armour they look like a character from “Call of Duty” with their helmets dangling from the handle bars! Wha? I’ve taken more than my fair share of falls this winter and have managed to bruise just about every part of my body, ego included – who knew there were so many shades of purple? – that I dread to think what state I’d be in without my helmet.
It’s not all negative,though. I love going from the heel to the toe edge and executing a grand, sweeping turn, and learning to break on the heel edge without face planting gives me great pleasure. Of such little victories is life made.
I have also been very impressed with the artwork on many boards. There seems no end of variation in colour and design and some are pure works of art. In fact, I remember writing a blog post for a lifestyle website on the topic of storage and keeping the bachelor pad tidy and I recommended mounting snowboards on wall brackets to display their underside designs. If I ever have the spare cash I’m going to get a custom board made. The top will show a rocket shooting through space, flames jetting from the engines against a backdrop of stars and planets. The bottom will be plain black with neon orange text, reading : “If you can read this, please dig me out”