Friday, May 02, 2008

This Winter In Snowboarding

Instead of making you all endure a snowboard update every two minutes or so, I figured I'd wait till the end of the season and write one big cohesive blowout. That way, if I died an ignominous death at the hands of frozen water, you wouldn't hear about it.
This was the first year I got to try out my new rig... a pair of Burton Moto boots and Burton Mission bindings on a 2008 Burton Air snowboard. The boots and bindings I got last year at a Spring sale, where amazingly I met Casey, an old friend of mine from Baton Rouge who'd moved here to Utah while I wasn't looking. Like right down the damn street here in Utah. The board is new, and has kind of a story... the short version is my mother bought it for me, and the long version is that my mother's father, who skied right up until he died, smiled down on her as she bought it for me with her inheritance. And so it's kind of a gift from both of them, and I often thought of them as I was blasting out of control down the mountain this season.
This was also the first year I went snowboarding with a goatee. Discovered that it actually freezes to your face above a certain altitude. And it feels frozen for the rest of the day; it's like a phantom ice beard for hours after you've thawed.

Last year I didn't really venture past the kiddie slope, but this year I went higher, prodded by boarder Casey, his girlfriend Roxy (a lifelong skier whom he calls the Queen of Death), and my own pride. Caromed down steeper runs, and learned a little more control at higher speeds. Learned about a little thing called ice face. Ice face is when you wipe out and your board sprays snow all over your face. It seems kinda funny and innocuous, but then the pain begins... it's ice, and it's on your face (hence the name), and you can't get it off because you have gloves on. So you have to sit there with your face freezing off, waving your arms and keening like a fairy, until it melts. Solution: do not wipe out.

Also saw something I can only describe as a bra tree. Again, it's a fairly straightforward name... on one of the lifts, you pass over a tree strung with about fifty brassieres. After much internet research, I discovered that brassieres come from naked girls, which are about the last things you would expect to encounter outside in the winter, much less in groups of fifty. I cannot account for this tree. However, I kept a close eye on it.
I also learned how to drive (and how not to drive) up a mountain in snow. It's a spooky feeling to try to pass a bus on a mountain road and suddenly your wheels start spinning and you start drifting backwards. Another dumb thing I did was slide into a snowbank. I was wheeling into the parking lot, and as I made the turn, my wheels thought it would be funny to go a different direction, and they drifted me into a ten foot wall of snow. Couldn't get the car out... wheels would only spin. And naturally, there was a whole parking lot full of people there to laugh at me when I finally tunneled out the window. Luckily, several of those people were buff college guys who helped extricate my car while I maintained a high state of embarrassment.

The last time I went out this season, Casey and the QOD brought me up the the tip-top of Snowbird. You can see over the whole Salt Lake valley, all the way to the mountains on the other side. It's a jaw-dropping view. And the ride down is equally as jaw-dropping, but in a different way... your jaw gets blown off your face by the sheer speed. There were several times I was sure I was going to die. On a narrow path with a wall of ice on one side and a steep cliff on the other, you can't brake... all you can do is continue going the speed of sound and not turn. But I learned as I went, through powder and ice, and though I had some pretty spectacular falls, I kept up with Casey and the Queen, and made it to the bottom each time. And now I can say I'm an intermediate snowboarder.
Next year, double black diamond. I am unstoppable.


Blogger AkuTyger said...

Haha, I want to see a picture of the bra tree!

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the pictures! P.S. - you're welcome, from BOTH of us! L.M.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

Hey, when will we see pics of you catching massive air?

3:47 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Yeah, that'll never happen. Every time I talk to a boarder that says they got critically injured, I ask how, and you know what they say... "I was doing a jump." So I allow myself to go faster than I should with the caveat that I will be going that fast with part of the board in contact with the marching surface at all times. You know, kinda like how I drive.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous sandtalker said...

Awww, Come on, get yourself an 01 orange jumpsuit and let'er rip!

5:09 AM  

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