Sunday, April 01, 2007

Learning New Tricks, Albeit Slowly

Last Saturday (3/24/07) was my third time snowboarding. Let me start back at the beginning though, in case you care...

My first time on the slopes, I was assured by my co-worker and accomplice that I didn't need lessons and that his pointers would be sufficient to learn how to snowboard. Needless to say, I fell so many times that my butt looked like that of an orangutan (bruised completely purple - no kidding). So halfway through the day, I came to the realization that my friend was either an ignorant fool, or more probably (knowing him) he just didn't want to ski by himself while he waited for me to complete the instruction.

The second time I tried it, I opted for professional instruction. There was actually a class for non-first time beginners, which leads me to believe that there are probably many people in my shoes. People foolish enough to give snowboarding a try without any lessons, then regret it and seek some guidance the next time. I greatly appreciated the many pointers and additional practice time that I received that morning. For the remainder of the day I still had more spills then I would like to admit, but they were significantly less numerous than the first time. And I was definitely able to apply some of the tips that I had learned in the morning's instruction. The experience was still painful, but there was definitely some progress.

Which brings us to the third time - being last Saturday. I still had my share of spills, especially at the beginning of the day (keep in mind it's been a year since my previous effort) and I started off pretty conservatively, but notice I said started off. Towards the end of the day, my knees were hurting and my quads were burning (especially my right trailing leg), but I a lot of improvement.

Too bad this season is just about over. I'm really looking forward to the next time though when I'm gonna shred the slopes with my insane jumps, rail slides, half-pipe maneuvers, etc. Well, maybe eventually someday.

If you are familiar with snowboarding, then you will understand the list of improvements I observed below, otherwise it will be really boring. OK, it's probably boring either way, but here it is anyway:
  • I was finally comfortable getting off of the lifts and coasting away from the disembarking area, able to calmly head in the direction that I needed to go and more importantly, without falling or running into anybody.
  • Faster, faster! I actually allowed myself to pick up speed without worrying as much about needing to slow down. Gaining confidence.
  • I was able to react quicker and easier to other skiers or snowboarders. If someone cut me off, wiped out in front of me, or was headed for a collision course, I was able to react better and actually maneuver quickly, instead of just panicking and ditching myself into the snow for an emergency stop.
  • I felt comfortable both on my heel edge and my toe edge. I was actually casually switching between the two, zig zagging to both sides of the slope as I made my way down.
  • Not only that, but I was also able to slow myself down on both edges while zig zagging. Earlier, I would make my way down a bit, brake on my heel edge - then repeat. They were separate and disjointed maneuvers. Much smoother now.

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