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Coming Down the Mountain

posted Jul 12, 2017, 7:35 AM by Eli Roberts

By Sara L.

There is nothing quite like that feeling of strapping into your bindings, standing up, and taking your first run down the mountain.  The feeling of freedom that rushes over you, knowing it is just you, your board, and fresh powder all around … cutting back and forth across the mountain in search of any possible options for jumps or tricks … the clear blue sky in stark contrast to the pristine white snow on the ground.  The weather is a comfortable cold, just enough to keep the snow from melting.  This is a perfect day for snowboarding.  However, getting to this point of enjoyment is no walk in the park.  It takes time, dedication, and determination.

Snowboarding was inspired by a combination of skateboarding, sledding, surfing, and skiing.  It developed in the United States in the 1960’s by Gordon Kosteroski and became an Olympic sport in 1998.

Snowboarding consists of a board which must be fit to your body size.  On this board are attached bindings that must be set to the right stance depending on which way you ride your board.  When boarding, you will need appropriate gear as it is cold and gets even colder the higher up the mountain you go.  The other crucial thing you will need is determination.  Learning to ride is a rough and painful process.  You will fall…. A LOT.

Falling down is an unavoidable and unfortunate part of learning to snowboard.  Snowboarding requires you to shift your weight, lifting your toes or heels slightly off the board while digging edges of the board into the snow in order to guide your board where you want it to go.  In addition to all of this, you are balancing your entire upper body in the exact spot it needs to be able to stay up.  Because all of these things are required to happen at the same time in rapid succession while leaning back and forth, it makes mastering each part and then combining them all very difficult.  When any one part of this technique is not implemented correctly, the result is a fall.  This is called catching an edge.  It can be either edge of the board, it doesn’t matter which because the results are the same; an abrupt stop in your forward motion followed by a slam to the ground either forward or backward. People have a misconception about this fall and think it won’t hurt because you are falling in snow.   WRONG!!!!  Most of the time you will not be on fresh powder, and it will hurt.  It feels very similar to falling on concrete.  Do not be fooled by this misconception that snow cannot hurt.  It does.  You will experience this fall countless times.  You will be sore and bruised and very frustrated, but here is where you must not give up!!!  There is a light at the end of the mountain.  Success is easily gained as long as you withstand the grueling few days of learning and falling.  As a snowboarder once said, “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough!”

On average it takes most people about three days to learn to snowboard.  And once you have reached this level of success, it is all downhill from there, literally.  There are certain levels of progression as is true in any sport, but being able to ride successfully down the mountain qualifies you as knowing how to snowboard.  Most people begin learning and practicing on the green runs or a bunny slope but in time progress on to more challenging runs, maybe a blue or even a black diamond.  As a snowboarder, be wary of black diamond runs.  While some can be exciting and challenging, they can also be a snowboarder’s worst nightmare.  Coming up on a slope full of moguls, which are tiny little bumps of snow laid out all across a run, is awful!!  As skiers bob back and forth gleefully down such runs, you will quickly find out your board operates very differently than skis and moguls are NOT your friend! While mogul runs are a skiers ultimate challenge, this is not so for the snowboarder.  Snowboarders find their ultimate challenge in the snowboard parks where you can master jumps and sliding down rails.  In time, you too can begin to learn jumps and tricks using these runs specifically made for snowboarders.

Some people become lifelong learners of snowboarding, constantly challenging their riding skills, while others are content with just gliding down the mountain smoothly.  Regardless of your end destination in mind when learning to ride, know that while the journey may be slightly rough in the very beginning, the end result will leave you with a lifetime of peaceful and exciting journeys descending down snow covered slopes.