Every other Thursday I share a travel experience from the past. With 4 years of non-stop travel and 3 years of part time travel I have a lot to get through! From the highs of skidiving to the depths of scuba diving – and everything in between, let me inspire you to try something new!
This week: SNOWBOARDING
THE ADVENTURE SERIES – ISSUE 5: snowboarding
Let me paint the picture: I’m a skier – and after 4 winter seasons in the European Alps, I’m not half bad (if I do say so myself!). But I had to start somewhere – and man, it wasn’t pretty. You may have read about my experience over at Non Stop Destination, but if you missed it – here it is again:
“I started to ski when I was about 14 after I had been booked on a school trip to Switzerland. My mum booked me some weekend lessons at the local dry slope in the north of England so I could learn the ropes and make the most of the trip.
On my first day, we did the basics: ‘Pizza’ to slow down, ‘French Fry’ to go faster down the hill. We only used the small slope – probably no more than a 10m stretch with 5m up the other side to slow you down if you hadn’t quite got the hang of things. I managed for the first few goes, all fine and then I ‘French fried’ too much and I shot down the hill. I was only tiny and so I had no body weight to cause resistance between myself and the slope and so I just kept going.
I flew to the top of the safety slope, continued across the grass and managed to line my ski’s up perfectly between the iron railings bordering the facility, and SPLAT. I crashed into the fence Tom and Jerry style – I swear if I’d have gone through there would have been a cut out shaped like me. I then peeled myself backwards off the railings to the sounds of my mother crying laughing and the instructor running towards me to pull me out of the fence because I wasn’t able to get the skis out myself.
Queue the ultimate tantrum. But I persevered – my school trip was a success and inspired many more. I even moved to the mountains for 4 winters (running hotels) so I could ski more. I love skiing – but don’t ask me about snowboarding!”
So go on – you can ask:
What about the snowboarding??!
Despite my shaky start on skis – and some epic crashes: I sliced my head open with my ski once – whilst it was still attached to my foot! (which is no easy feat!) – But other than that I’ve *pretty much* always loved skiing. The same cannot be said for snowboarding.
Running hotels in the French, Swiss and Austrian alps meant that I has the mountains on my doorstep and my ski time was good. Then my partner – who’s a snowboarder – convinced me to try snowboarding – I’d enjoy it he said.
For a start, the whole concept of having my feet effectively tied together was completely alien to me. I loved that I could schluss along on my skis, effectively like ice skating or roller-blading and so I was losing my temper with the snowboard before we even got to the slope. I can completely understand why snowboarders just take the damn thing off and walk! And then my partner took me to the baby slope with a button lift – they’re also really difficult when you can’t just swing the button between your knees and be dragged up the hill. And then you have to concentrate on keeping your body weight over one leg so that you don’t inadvertently change direction and end up off the track. There was just so many things to think about. Needless to say I failed pretty miserably at the button lift and consistently fell off. This wouldn’t have been so bad if there weren’t a million and one (or so it felt like) little European children (dressed like Maggie from the Simpsons in her snow suit!) flying past my on the lift without a care in the world – or shouting at me in French/Austrian to get out of their way. How embarrassing. *cringe*
And this was only in the first 20 minutes.
I think in the end I stopped attempting the button lift and just walked up the hill. Very much stamping my feet – which is much easier in snowboard boots than ski boots! (not that I felt the need to stamp my feet when skiing often..)
Then came my first attempt at descent. Ouch. Ouch and Ouch. I fell forwards, I fell backwards, the base of my spine was not impressed at all and my wrists wondered what they had done to deserve this punishment. I got a cold butt from ending up in the snow so often and could easily understand why I saw so many wrist injuries each year from snowboarding.
But I persevered. For about 2 hours. My partner was patient, helping me when I fell, showing my how to turn, how to stop – generally being all round awesome but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do it that the whole episode nearly resulted in a break up. I was not a nice person on a snowboard. I eventually told him to go away (not politely) as I thought it might be better for me to try on my own, as if the frustration of my not being able to do it – and him watching me not be able to do it – would all go away if I was on my own.
Sadly this was not the case. I maybe tried for another half an hour on my own and after I questioned for the 100th time why I wasting my time trying to snowboard when I could ski *perfectly * well, I fell over again. At this point I ripped off the snowboard and stomped back over the equipment shop. All I could hear in my head was Cartman (from SouthPark) declaring ‘screw you guys I’m going home.’ On returning my equipment I explained it just wasn’t for me, went home and put on my trusty skis and headed up the mountain. I was determined to have one good run that day.
Sat on the chairlift all I could think was – God I love my ski’s. And my boots. And poles – do you know how awesome poles are?! I’m a skier – and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.
Do you ski/snowboard? Have you tried to do one after being an *expert* at the other? Or are there any cross capable ski-boarders out there?
Let me know in the comments below!
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