Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tis the Season To Learn: Snowboarding

Falling sucks.

It hurts, hopefully not a lot, and it's exhausting to get back up. I'm not speaking metaphorically here. I'm talking about actually falling. Face-planting, butt-slamming, falling. Catching an edge and just tanking it face first into the snow. Leaning too far and suddenly seeing sky. Turning too hard, too fast, too wreckless and becoming personal with a tree.

I hate falling.

Then again, it has it's benefits. You get a rest, for starters. It might be a little cold with your jacket shoved up to your ears and snow jammed into your pants, but, a rest is a rest. You get to catch your breath, enjoy the scenery, make a snow angel, learn what to do differently next time.

That last one's tricky. The words "next time" kind of loom over your thought processes while you're face down in an embankment. Sometimes it's hard to convince yourself that you'll even allow there to be a "next time." You're too busy focusing on finding your gloves, your hat, your breath, your dignity to contemplate getting back up and sliding towards your next encounter with the ground.

But that's the trick to learning, isn't it? To keep getting back up. Brush off the snow from your previous mistakes and try again. With any luck, your next tumble will be into something softer, or someone friendlier, and hopefully, rather much later than sooner.

Either way, look on the bright side. You're probably getting better.

I know I am, at least.

Growing up, I took to skiing immediately. My parents enrolled my brother and I in ski school and I was a natural. My brother was not. He dropped out, switched to snowboarding and never looked back. I became the skier in the family. I was the skier in college, too. When my friends from out of state were strapping on snowboards, I was skiing backwards down the hill teaching them how to snowboard.

That's the funny thing. Growing up with a snowboarder riding beside me, I learned how a snowboarder should snowboard.  I could watch people and tell them where to shift their weight, when to switch from heel to toe, etc. And, if you strapped me to a snowboard, I could apply my knowledge and get down the mountain. Not very well or very quickly, mind you, but still down the mountain. This season I'm determined to change that.

I've already committed 2 snow trips entirely to practicing the sport, and I'm getting more confident with every one. Sure, last Saturday I face-planted hard enough to knock the breath out of me and fear for my teeth.. BUT! It was on a blue run.

I doubt I'll ever be fearless on a snowboard, but that's okay. I'm not fearless on skis. The important thing is that I'm learning how to fall, get back up, and keep going.

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