Friday, November 21, 2008
Little snowboarder that could
My favorite book is "Illusions," a semi-spiritual '70s tome arguing that we can do anything - walking on water included - if we believe we can. "Argue for your limitations, and you get to keep them," Richard Bach wrote.
At one point, a character in the book picks up a guitar for the first time and plays. He reasons that we all already know how to play the guitar, but we allow ourselves to play well only after we decide we've practiced enough.
I plunked those ideas into my head when I strapped on my snowboard for the first time last weekend.
I moved to Steamboat Springs on the last day of February. My St. Louis upbringing, beach-vacation-loving mother and time in Texas meant my snow sport experience consisted of a three-day ski trip to Winter Park in 1997. I did a lot of diving into snowbanks that December, and I remember one epic yard sale that led to a several-skier pileup.
I would not call myself a natural.
But perhaps snowboarding would be different. This time, I was determined to be bold. I bought a Rocky Mountain Ultimate Pass, knowing it would be impossible to justify the cost if I didn't hit the mountains a few dozen times.
Early Saturday, a carload of us headed for Copper Mountain. I arrived too late to get a professional lesson, so two kind-souled friends offered to teach me the basics.
They made me stand up on my own, which I did with the flopping grace of a beached bottlenose. They took me on the magic carpet and guided me through the concepts of heel and toe edges.
"Don't stick your butt out! Stop sticking your butt out!" one teacher hollered.
After lunch, they taught me how to ride the lift, and we hit a bunny slope.
I almost took out a kid in a unicorn helmet, and I learned the meaning of catching an edge. I flailed around, sliding upright for longer and longer stretches as I picked my way down the run three times.
"I can do this," I told them, testing Bach's philosophy of limitlessness. "I have to do this."
My teachers patiently encouraged me and congratulated me when I didn't outright fail. By the time we left Copper for the brewery in Grand Lake, I could barely walk. I was sore and smiling.
Limitations? Whatever. Bring on the winter.
- Blythe Terrell, 4 Points