I think sometimes when people hear me say that I’m a snowboarder, they picture this ultra-coordinated snowboard chick tearing down the mountain whilst listening to indie music on her iPod. What they probably don’t picture is a terrified, fairly uncoordinated girl timidly making her way down the slope as best she can so as to avoid injury, and more often than not ending the day in tears and frustration. But that’s how it is for me. I could use this blog to make out like I’m super talented and confident, but I think it’s far more valuable for me to tell the truth, especially with something that, surprisingly, has taught me more about myself than I ever would have imagined.
My snowboarding journey started when I was dating Brendan and still tried to exude that ‘I’m the coolest chick you’ve ever met and am daring and sporty’ vibe, which is actually quite funny considering I grew up being practically allergic to sports. I did some gymnastics and a few years of netball, but always preferred reading a book to throwing a ball, and tried to avoid PE lessons at school as much as possible. Despite my obvious sporting incompetence, I agreed to go to Mt. Hotham in Australia to snowboard for a week with a group of friends, and ended up breaking my coccyx after falling a bunch of times on the icy ground. Although it was a really fun and memorable holiday, I spent much of the time on my board in tears and frustrated. I left Mt. Hotham in pain and unable to sit for long periods for the next six months, but determined to master this sport and prove to myself that I could do it.
When we moved to Canada a few years later I tried again, and had a tiny bit more success; although I was still pretty nervous whenever I was on icy runs. Often the fear was crippling, leaving me in tears because I knew that the only way down the mountain was to snowboard down, but I didn’t want to look like a fool so I kept at it, and slowly my confidence started growing. That was until I broke my wrist; once again on an icy patch of snow, and that was the end of my snowboarding practice for that season. Although I pretended to be tough and cool for breaking two bones whilst boarding (yeah, I’m totally hardcore), the blow to my confidence was too much for me to get over on my own.
The following season, on our first snowboarding trip for the year, for which we went to Whistler, I decided to take a lesson to learn some of the basics again and with the hope of becoming a more confident boarder. The half-day lesson was like a miracle; my skill as a snowboarder increased significantly after making a few important tweaks to my technique, as well as having one-on-one coaching and being pushed further than I would have been comfortable with before. I was so proud of myself; I was by no means a professional, but just being able to get down the ski runs without bursting into tears or believing that I couldn’t do it was a massive relief.
Even now, although far more confident than when I first began boarding, I struggle with fear of injury and let my fear convince me that I can’t do things when I know that I can! It’s a constant struggle for me to even strap into a snowboard, knowing I’m going spend more time talking myself out of giving up than relaxing…but it’s so rewarding when I make it to the bottom of a run, executing turns, not being terrified and, most importantly, in one piece! In Levi I conquered one of my biggest snowboarding fears: the dreaded T-bar! I have flatly refused to go near them in the past, but here is evidence that I mastered the technique (well, apart from that one time when I slipped and was dragged along by my binding, but we don’t talk about that!):
Unfortunately, the day was not all about conquering insecurities. No matter how much I yelled at, ignored, or swore at my fear, it ended up winning the fight and I caught the bus back to Levi on my own, crying the whole way out of sheer frustration at my perceived failure. But hey, there’s always next time, right? One day I’ll come out on top and will have a whole day on a mountain without a single tantrum or meltdown! I’m so glad I have continued pursuing this sport, even though I’ve had plenty of excuses to give up. My day of boarding on Levi was the most beautiful snowboarding experience I’ve ever had, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe I’m silly for going back for more, or maybe (and I like this theory better) I have more determination and perseverance than I thought!Want to see more posts like this?
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