A few weeks ago I went up with my family to Sun Peaks resort and decided to go snowboarding for the first time since middle school. My older sister, a veteran boarder, was nice enough to take me under her wing and give me a hand up the very steep learning curve of snowboarding.
When I was 13 years old, during winter break, someone once pushed me over and declared me a “regular” snowboarder (meaning left foot forward). That is about all I had remembered from my one season of snowboard lessons a decade ago. However within my first few minutes on the mountain, I understood why I may have given up learning how to snowboard in the first place.
Our first day on the mountain, sporting my snazzy new jacket and pants, my sister and I hopped on the “magic carpet” taking us up to the top of the Sun Peaks bunny hill. The first thing I learned was how to stand up and go down the hill on an edge. This felt a bit like a balancing act and a squat. As an avid rock climber, I have grown to appreciate shoulders arms and a burning forearm, however squatting my way down the mountain on either of my edges certainly made for uncomfortably painful thighs. Needless to say I was soon anxious to start turning.
My sister’s tips on standing up and edging: bend your knees, keep your back straight, flex your feet and bend your knees to slow down.
Turning is significantly more difficult to pick up and quite a bit more intimidating. Most snowboarders make turning look easy and smooth, but I definitely felt awkward and nervous. There are two different turns to learn: heel to toe (facing down the mountain to up) and toe to heel (facing up the mountain to down).
For this stage of learning, my sister took me up an easy green run. On my very first heel-toe turn, by some miraculous stroke of luck and ambition, I was successful. At the time I was overjoyed by the achievement, but it turns out I ended up setting my bar too high and became very frustrated at not being successful every turn. When a beginner snowboarder sets their expectations too high, it can lead to completing a run by foot rather than board.
My sister’s tips on turning: keep your weight on your leading foot, look in the direction you want to turn, twist your body in the direction you want to turn, and don’t chicken out.
All in all, I would say my snowboarding escapade was a success. My last day culminated in explosive frustration, yet I found myself board and boot shopping just days later. Sun Peaks was a great mountain to learn on, with a small bunny hill and a few green runs it wasn’t too intimidating. Of course, it always helps to have such a patient sister when it comes to learning how to snowboard.
My advice to others who want learn: don’t expect too much of yourself. If you aren’t falling then you aren’t trying hard enough. Bring Advil.