I went snowboarding for the first time in my life yesterday. Actually, I’ve never been skiing, either, so it was my first attempt at a snow sport that didn’t involve a cheaply made plastic saucer you buy at Target on your way to the mountain house. I don’t know why I haven’t been snowboarding before now. It’s not that California lacks ski resorts – we’ve got plenty of them, in fact. Just never got around to it, I guess. We were always more of a “let’s avoid anything resembling an actual winter” family. The beach was our scene.
Olga, Masha, Grace, and I went to Whitetail Resort, which is about an hour and a half from DC. Since I’ve never been to a ski resort before, I cannot comment on the quality. There was, however, snow, mountains, and lots of people. We picked up our rental boots and snowboards (Olga was skiing, Grace has her own snowboard equipment) and Grace taught us how to strap the board to our feet. We then got in line for the ski lift and we dragged our boards along, with one foot strapped in. The whole thing seemed entirely ridiculous to me, yet I somehow managed to hop onto the ski lift. I found the actual ride on the ski lift to be quite scary, and I clung to it for dear life, while my snowboard dangled from my foot.
“Dude, Olga, this thing is heavy, it’s gonna drag me down!” I thought I would plummet to my death, and perhaps earn a Darwin award.
Well, it didn’t drag me down, but the snowboard was a lot heavier than I expected, especially when compared to the weight of my 6’10” surfboard, which weighs next to nothing.
The whole process of getting off the ski lift was not so easy, and I basically flung myself off the bench when we got to the top and stumbled/crawled to the side (all with this effin’ board strapped to my right foot). It was not at all graceful, but I’m a newb so what do you expect?
With the scary ski lift experience over, it was finally time to attempt actually going down the slope. Grace gave us a few pointers, like on how to actually get up with this bizarre contraption strapped to your feet.
Once I mastered that, I was going down the slope at a very fast speed (well, fast to me at least).
“Eh, this ain’t so hard!” And then, inevitably, BAM! Lindsay loses her balance and tumbles down the mountain. I did much better the second time going down, but took a particularly hard fall in which my stocking cap flew off my head and landed five feet from me. I laid there in the snow for a minute while eight year olds sped past me. Maaaan, I just dunno about this sport.
When I told some friends that I was going snowboarding, their reactions ranged from “Be prepared to spend most of the time on your ass” to “You surf, so you’ll probably be pretty good.” I’d like to think that I was somewhere in the middle. I could stand up and balance fine after a few runs, but my control was practically non-existent, and my stopping needs some major work. Stopping, as it turns out, is something you should definitely master.
On our last run down the slope, I looked behind me to see Masha holding her arm.
“Hey, you alright?
A guy riding the ski lift above shouted down that he would send for help. Ski patrol showed up shortly thereafter, put Masha on the stretcher, and headed down to first aid. I put my snowboard back on, but was so exhausted and sore that I half flung myself down the slope. Once we had found all the members of our group, we headed off to the Hagerstown hospital emergency room. Spent about four hours there. Ever been to Hagerstown? Not much there. Turns out she broke her wrist. Freakin’ sucks. Finally got back to DC around 1am. Woke up the next morning and every muscle in my body bitched at me.
I had a lot of fun at Whitetail and would definitely be up for trying snowboarding again. I thought it would be quite similar to surfing, but besides the fact that you are standing on a board and moving at a fast speed, the two sports are nothing alike. To me, snowboarding seems a lot easier than surfing. Learning to surf can be a very frustrating experience, while with snowboarding you can see yourself progress much quicker. Then again, the ocean is much more forgiving when you make a mistake. Fall off your board, and you’re in the water, not landing on a patch of hard ice. The whole ski resort environment felt like a snowy Disneyland.
Expensive, lots of people, long lines, and bad food. I much prefer the solitude of the ocean. Yeah, the breaks in SoCal can get very crowded, no doubt, but there have been countless times when I’ve found myself alone at the South Jetty in Oceanside, the waves all to myself, enjoying a beautiful sunset. You really can’t beat that. Uh, is it spring yet?!