“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.” – Warren Miller
Where was Warren Miller when I was sitting at the top of a gentle slope trying to figure out how in the world to stand up with both feet strapped to a snowboard?
See, this weekend at Red River Ski & Summer Area, two other adult students and myself learned to snowboard. One had never snowboarded before, one had only skied, and I hadn’t tried to make my way down a snowy mountain since I was 12 years old. So, while 6-year-olds burned trails of snowdust down the mountain, our instructor, Adam Duran, taught us common mountain decency (pay attention to the signs and the people in front of you), snowboarding jargon, and eventually we tried the sport out for ourselves.
The first practical part of the lesson was how to strap ourselves into our snowboards. It sounds simple, but add three sweaters, bibs, a winter coat, scarves, goggles, and gloves, and you’ve got yourself a modified—and solvable—rubix cube.
After everyone had maneuvered the straps, it was time to “skate.” Skating is snowboarding with only one foot strapped in. This is maybe one of the most important moves because you need to skate to get on and off of lifts and around flat areas.
Once we’d proven that we could skate around without causing harm to ourselves or others, it was time to move on to more challenging things… like toeside and heelside turns.
Side note: If you attend a lesson, you will most likely spend about half of it bottom down in the snow. Just remember, it’s a lot better than spending a day bottom down on the couch watching TV.
Adam had us walk up a slight slope and then attempt the toeside turn on the way down. Then do it all over again. My classmates got the hang of the toeside turn fairly quickly, but I thought it might be the death of me. When I finally completed a turn without face-planting, I got a high-five, a smile, and we were able to move on to the next challenge: the lift.
Red River Ski & Summer Area has a nice feature of a beginner lift which was essentially a conveyor belt that carried us up the learning slope. I’m so grateful for this lift because getting on a lift that takes you all the way up the mountain can be daunting. But, in a controlled environment with other beginners, it didn’t feel quite so intimidating.
Even though it was a “bunny slope,” I’m going to admit that staring down the hill, toeside fails fresh on my mind, I was slightly nervous. Cue the part where Adam might have needed Warren Miller’s backup.
Here was the part where we secured both of our feet in the board and tried the “falling leaf.” A falling leaf is where you slide down in a Z pattern, not pointing your board straight down the slope. Turns out, after I stood up (with Adam’s help), I was much better at the falling leaf than the toeside turns!
We practiced the falling leaf several times on the beginner’s slope, and then Adam challenged us with the real deal: the green trail. I quickly learned that the beginner’s slope that had been a challenge was far overshadowed by this new task.
Even though the task was new, the movements weren’t. Adam reminded us to lean into the direction we were going, to take a deep breath, and, most importantly, to enjoy the ride.
As my lesson drew to a close, I was midway down the green trail, somewhere between remembering to take a breath and being terrified of falling down, I realized something: I had skied New Mexico.
Trying something new, with no idea whether or not you’ll be good or bad at it, is such an important part of progress in life. Trying new things keeps us open to amazing opportunities. Failing at new things makes us humble. And finding success, however small, reminds us of perseverance ability to overcome and conquer.