Sunday, January 31, 2010 by Rebecca

Snowboarding #2

Day 2 was a bit icier and falls hurt a bit more, but thankfully there
were many fewer falls.

We didn't get to the slopes until a bit after 10, so we rented our
gear and signed up for the afternoon class.

I managed to get 2 runs in before class. I was doing ok on my toe
side, but just couldn't do anything on my heel side. And turns were
completely out of the question. Still I managed to make it down the
mountain pretty well though once I got my helmet and goggles all
sorted out.

By the time I finished my second run it was about 12:45 leaving 30
minutes before we were to meet our class. I opted to take a bathroom
break and drink some water so that I wouldn't be starting class tired.

We met our instructor, Marvin. Right away I could tell that he was more interested in actually instructing than our previous instructor (not that he was bad or anything). There were only 4 of us, which was a nice small group. He reminded us of the best way to get off the lift, and off we went on our first run.

First he just wanted to see each of us ride to asses what level we were at. after the first pass, he decided that we were all pretty close to the same level. Daniel was definitely at the 'head of the class'. He started off being relatively comfortable with toe side and heel side and being able to occasionally link turns. The rest of us pretty much only had one side we were comfortable with, and hadn't figured out turns yet.

When it came time for me to try traversing across the run on my heel side, Marvin came and stood directly in front of me, helped me stand up, and traversed across with me. It was like magic - with him standing there, I was no longer afraid of falling, and I barely needed his help at all to get across. We were both a bit surprised at how well I did with it.

So - like with so much in life, just amplified - I learned that snowboarding requires a certain zen attitude. The instant I start freaking out about going to fast or not going in the right direction, or being afraid of falling, or rushing through something, I fall. If I can keep my head and keep breathing, I generally manage to stay on my feet. It's too bad I get anxious so easily ...

The second run, Marvin asked us to practice switching the board from facing down hill to facing across the mountain as we traversed - a sort of "see-saw" maneuver that results in speeding up and slowing down which would help us learn to link turns. Ironically, even though my toe side had been my dominant side going into class, I had a much easier time practicing this on the heel side. Ultimately, using this technique, I was able to link a few heel side to toe side turns. I even got some toe side to heel side turns, but I always fell once the turn was complete. I think I suddenly find myself looking down the mountain, freak out, and fall. Once I get even more comfortable on my heel side, I think this will resolve itself.

I have this issue on my heel side of my left foot swinging down the mountain, and it's apparently because i tend to lead with my left shoulder so instead of just looking right to move to the right side of the mountain, i must turn my whole torso that way. It's a habit I'll have to break.

We did 4 runs total in the class, and I did another run on my own after class bringing my total runs for the day to 7 (and I only fell getting off the lift twice! - Ha!).

I think that on our next trip, I will try riding "regular" instead of goofy, and see whether I do any better at "see-sawing" on my toe side, and whether I can control my orientation any better on my heel side.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with my progress. I'm still falling fairly regularly (I'm not sure that I'll ever get past that entirely), but most of the falls were controlled, and I definitely made really good progress on learning to ride heel side and making turns. There was actually another girl in our class who was actually having a more difficult time than I was. It always surprises me when that happens.

Things to remember: keep weight centered (left to right) over the board to control speed - putting weight on the back foot makes you speed up. and stop leading with my left shoulder.

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