Sunday, February 04, 2007


I have been skiing before. Twice, in fact... once in Washington, when I was still young and pliable, and once in Wisconsin, when I was teenaged, broke, and ill-clothed for the occasion. I was always envious of the snowboarders... they shot down the slopes with reckless abandon, looking way cooler than I did. I vowed that one day I would snowboard. And even though I have been in Utah (whose license plates read THE GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH) for five months and been surrounded by snow and mountains, it only yesterday hit me that I could literally drive down the street and achieve this lofty goal. So today, I did that lofty goal-achieving thing.

Snowbird is the name of the resort to which I went. I had perviously called in a reservation for the board rental. You have to rent the boots, just like you do for skiing, except you have to rent the bindings too, which perform the all-important function of keeping your boots attached to the board. I picked up the equipment at the shop at the bottom of the hill, then I trudged halfway up Chickadee Loop with it. I feel no shame in telling you that Chickadee is the kiddie run, because those of you who have been on a mountain before know that snow-borne kids are not stumbling novices; they are lethal faster-than-sound projectiles. I just picked the kiddie run because it was the lowest elevation, and thus I would have less distance to fall. I was right to select this run.
Reason #1: Starting. When you ski, you stay attached to your skis the whole time, because you can move yourself around with the poles when there's no slope. But with a board, you have to take your back foot out of the binding if you want to go anywhere on flat ground; you kinda kick yourself around skateboardlike. That leaves the problem of getting your boot back attached once you're on the slope, because when you put your weight of your front foot on the board to attach your back foot, you start moving quickly. "Sit down then, you fool!" you all say, but then you have to get back up after that, which is nigh-impossible once both feet are attached. I can do it now, I just couldn't do it then.
Reason #2: Going. If you've never ridden a snowboard, here's some physics. One, the further into the mountain you put the back edge of your vehicle, the slower you go. Two, don't EVER put the front edge into the mountain. Those two are pretty easy to manage on two skis, where all you have to do is make a harder wedge if you want to stop, and your outside edges are always front. But on a board, you turn by pivoting on your lead foot, swinging your back foot opposite of the way you want to go. This, of course, changes which edge of the board is front every time you turn. The reason you don't put that forward edge down is that, as soon as you do, it becomes the fulcrum of a very short and violent arc. None of this prolonged Wide World of Sports 'agony of defeat' tumble stuff... just FOOP and you're buried. As soon as I was able to master standing up with both boots attached, I discovered all of this, and on a steeper mountain, I would have been destroyed more thoroughly. Also, of note is how snowboarders classify your 'riding' style by which foot is back; you either ride 'right foot' or 'goofy foot.' Guess which one I ride.
Reason #3: Stopping. I mentioned earlier that on skis, you can just push your skis apart from each other to stop. But a snowboard is one piece, so that crap doesn't work. You can, however, bring your back foot around so that both feet are forward, and if you lean back into the mountain, your back edge can potentially stop you. I say potentially because the leg strength required to do this is immense, and also beyond me. I got to where I could come to a shaky stop on Chickadee, so I advanced to a higher run called Mid-Gad. I was punished beyond measure. It was much more exhilarating, of course, but there were times where I had to bail because I didn't have the quad strength to keep standing. And falling down on purpose is no more fun that doing it accidentally.
All in all, I didn't do too badly. A few boarders I talked to were amazed that I just went up there and figured it out, as opposed to taking lessons. But I did take a few spills; during one of them, I heard that coconut sound your head makes when it hits something way too hard, and afterwards I had to lay there quietly for a while to ensure I was not dead.
Though I may hurt tomorrow, I am a snowboarder today.

P.S. Some of you may have caught that I misspelled the word 'previously' six paragraphs up (I know you did, Mom). I was going to fix it, but I think it's funnier the way it is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had JUST hit the "Post a Comment" button when I read your P.S. Hey--manure occurs!

Love, L.M.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Magma. That truly killed me.

3:18 AM  

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