Which came first, Skiing or Snowboarding?

Ahh…history’s greatest mistake.  Unlike the chicken and the egg debate this question does have an answer.  (Hint: skiing.)  When I took my first snowboarding lesson I was in a class with a seasoned skier and a couple of newbies from the flattest state in America.  (I’ll let you guess which one that is.)  The instructor informed the newbies that the skier would pick up the fundamentals a lot faster since the only thing the newbies had slid down a mountain on was a plastic sled. And one of them couldn’t even do that right, sledding into a tree and watching her ankle swell to twice its normal size later that afternoon.  The newbies knew they were in trouble when the instructor tried to relate snowboarding to other sports.  “Do you skateboard?”

“No.”

“Have you ever surfed?”

“No.”

I’m sure at that point the instructor thought these people are screwed and this is going to be hilarious.  The newbies quickly realized snowboarding would not come natural to them and it would be an unforgiving sport…that is totally worth it!  Season pass here we come!

The skier kept wondering why she decided to crossover to snowboarding, and the questions turned into screams as she spent more time on her butt than her feet.  To add to the humiliation kids on skis and snowboards alike were weaving around her and their parents were telling them they were ready to try the chairlift and feel the rush of the easy slopes, while she couldn’t even make it down the bunny slope without falling.  If she hadn’t already paid for those snowboarding lessons she would have turned her snowboard in for a pair of skis in a heartbeat.

The instructor told the class to be patient.  It would take a solid three days to get the feel of it.  Just remember the fundamentals. Not only do you have to make it down the mountain without falling, you have to think, too.

1. Great posture.  Chin up.  Look where you want to go.  Don’t slouch!  (Trying to snowboard is like trying to win a beauty pageant.)

2. Keep your arms straight out at your sides like you’re trying to fly.  (You’ll have trouble washing your hair tonight because lifting your arms over your head will be nearly impossible.)

3. Keep the edge of your snowboard up or you’ll somersault down the mountain.

4. Sit in your invisible chair and lean into your turns.  And when you make that uphill turn pull a Rose from Titanic: arms spread, chest out, but keep your chin up.

5. Don’t open and close your ankles.

The snowboarders bent their front legs and straightened their back legs to get momentum.  Wow!  It feels like they’re flying down the mountain.  (From the spectator point of view they’re really not going that fast, but if that’s what they want to believe.)  They lower into their chairs because it’s time for a turn…

Nothing happens.  One of them is coming right up on someone.  Okay…

Turn now.  Now!  Turn!

Unprepared for the traffic on the slope and unable to turn,  the only thing to do is fall to keep from plowing the other person down.  By the end of the day you’ll hurt.  So maybe snowboarding is like so many other things that are best learnt early in life.  Maybe snowboarding should be the winter equivalent of swimming lessons.  And maybe if you want to enjoy snowboarding you should learn it before skiing.  Who is to say which should have come first?

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