I want to be a badass.
Seriously. I would love nothing more than to be an extreme sports fanatic who rocks out on guitar and fearlessly treks into the unknown for funzies. So fervent is my desire to be a pint-sized badass that I recently decided to check something moderately extreme off of my proverbial bucket list. I decided to go snowboarding.
I know, I know—snowboarding really isn’t that crazy. In fact, the idea that at 24 years old I’ve yet to attempt such an endeavor would probably surprise some of my readers.
My reasoning is simple. I was born and raised in a small beach town located along the Gulf of Mexico called Port Charlotte, Florida. Not a lot of snowboarding opportunities there.
In fact, Port Charlotte, due to its geographical location doesn’t even have a lot of surfing opportunities. My town lies along the southwestern part of the state where the oceanic planes are relatively inactive compared to the east coast. Our waves, therefore, are smaller. Instead of surfing, we like to skim board.
I’m going to scratch that one out—I love to skim board. After high school, I spent 5 hours a day out on my board (named Clover because it’s green…yeah, I’m one of those people. My car’s name is Ugly Betty, but we’ll get into that some other time.) Skim boarding not only allows me to play Jesus and essentially glide across the water (or dance, if I’m doing 360’s), but it is one of the few sports in the world where my size happens to be an advantage. I’m 4’10” and about 100 pounds. I have a nice fiberglass board and, because of said lack of height, I am able to balance on it easier. This, believe it or not, actually does all come into play.
This past Christmas, my friend Rob’s parents decided to buy us plane tickets to visit them in Ohio. Knowing how much I love skim boarding, Rob’s mother decided that she was going to take me snowboarding the day after Christmas.
We all know how realistic I am when I’m excited about something, right?
Yet again, I imagined I would be an instant prodigy. On our way there, I pictured myself zipping through the snowcaps like a mini female version of Shawn White. I imagined myself doing tricks in the air and wowing all of the uppity northerners with my tan and awesome snow-skills.
I guess somewhere in amongst my fantasizing I managed to forget that my first three years of skim boarding were spent bruised up, cut up and limping.
So to give you the proper picture of just how tragic this was, I’m going to start off by saying that we had to make a little shopping trip before we got going. I own three bikinis, a wet suit and god-knows how many pairs of board shorts. I do not own snow pants, gloves, scarves or snow-sport jackets.
So Kim (Rob’s mom), Rob and I stopped at a couple of stores to get everything we needed. I bought myself a pair of black and white snowboarding pants (which I found in the little boys’ section), a pair of white and black waterproof winter sports gloves, a pair of white sporty sunglasses, a beanie and a beautiful white and black snowboarding jacket. You know…for all of the winter sports I so obviously participate in on a daily.
By the time I was done, I looked like a sponsored pro.
We get to the snowboarding place. It’s the day after Christmas. The place is brimming with people. All of these people have at least seen a snowboard before. This is not particularly unusual for them—many of them brought their own gear and, because they are used to temperatures below 70, a lot of them aren’t even dressed in much more than a sweater and jeans.
Dressed in all-white matching gear, I look like a professional snowboarder who is trying to adapt to my surroundings for fear of a yeti attack.
We go to rent our gear. It is at this point that Kim tries to convince me for the hundredth time to rent skis instead of a snowboard. “It’s easier—you’ll be able to use both feet.”
“Thanks, Kim, but I think I’ll be alright on the board. I’m used to boards—I’m a skim boarder,” I say with the proud naivety of any half-retarded beach bum. Kim shrugged and smiled and rented her own skis.
Rob, eyeing the blinding effect of my white snow gear, made sure they handed me a white snowboard. My ensemble was complete.
We get down to the lift and take pictures of ourselves in our gear and with our boards and immediately post them onto facebook (yay, smartphones). Feeling like I fit the part, I am immediately impressed with myself.
Rob shows me how to lock my snowboarding boots into the board. Cool, I think, glad that I finally understand what Eddie Izzard was talking about in Dressed to Kill when he said, “You can’t help but look cool because you’re nailed to a $#@!ing plank of wood.”
We get to the ski lift of the smallest looking hill. This is my first ski lift. I’m bobbing up and down, shaking Rob with utter glee. He tells me to get ready to push off of the lift when the board hits the ice.
“Okay, got it!” I say, cheery and thoroughly pleased with everything that’s going on.
Our boards hit the ice.
I face plant.
I chuckle and dust off all of the snow. Rob and I shimmy up to where Kim is waiting on the slope. I look down. Suddenly this slope doesn’t seem quite so small anymore.
I cried out and gripped Rob’s jacket. He shook me off, told me to relax and tried to explain that I was to shift right and then left over and over all the way down the hill.
So I kick off and bend my knees the way I would when I’m skimming. I start going like sixty miles and hour and freak out. I fall down and slide into a patch of snow along the right side of the slope.
Rob picks me up and dusts me off. I try again.
“Okay, now turn left—turn left!!”
Here’s the problem with turning left. I am a skim boarder. If I want to turn left into, say, the curve of a wave, I simply twist my body and both body and board obey me. They turn left and we all get along.
Snowboarding doesn’t work that way—especially if you hit a patch of ice.
“Turn left! Turn left!”
“I’m turning! I’m turning!!” I and the plank of wood I was nailed to shot straight to the right and through the plastic barricades. I covered my eyes as I hit another patch of ice and shot further down until I landed in a pile of pillowy not-so-softness.
I opened my eyes. I was underneath the ski lift, staring up at the chuckling northerners. “I’m a skim boarder!!” I cried out for no apparent reason. I shuffle myself up to a seating position and look around for Rob. I find him laughing his ass off (completely upright, mind you) looking at me from where I sliced through the fencing.
“I told you to turn!”
“I was turning!”
“Well, apparently not!” He laughed some more. “Alright, unlock one of your feet and come over here—this is the only way down.”
Realizing he is right, I try to kick off the snowboard. I have no idea how to release myself of this thing. I fight with it for about a minute and a half before realizing that there is a little lever thing you have to push in order to free yourself.
Finally able to hobble over to where my ever-supportive cohort is waiting, I do my best to listen to him explain the turning technique. Apparently, you lean forward and backward to turn in either direction. Rob likens it to skateboarding. Had I been cool enough to try skateboarding as a child, this might have helped me. As it happens, I did not try skateboarding. Not once.
I fall again, but this time I manage to miss the fence. Rob gives up on me and says he’s going to be on the Black Diamond (the highest cliff-like-slope they have…I prefer to think of it as “Black Death”.)
I tried again. I started to gain a bit of balance only to fall once I realized, *gasp,* that snow and ice are slippery. I fell flat on my butt. I got up and tried it again. I fell on my left wrist.
I begin to curse. Children that are all of eight years old are now whizzing past me at ungodly speeds. I begin to curse them.
About ¼ of the way down the hill, I realize that there is a smaller beginners’ hill off to my far right. This hill does not even require a ski lift. Stupid Robby. Coming to the conclusion that I am way out of my league, I decide that my best bet is to swallow my pride and just crabwalk down the hill.
Yeah. I crabwalked down a snow slope with one leg still nailed in to a snowboard.
The whole time I was muttering slight variances of the following: “This. Sucks. Ass. Snow. Sucks. Ass. Snow. Bruises. Ass.”
Eventually, I made it down to the last five feet of slope. I looked around and–ever-so-nonchalantly–pushed myself back up onto the snowboard and slid down as if I’d been upright the whole time. Of course, that’s when I realized I couldn’t break. I nearly took out the knees of some child walking by before I managed to kick the board out and land on my butt (again.)
So then I decide that I should take one of the snowboarding lessons. They started us up at the very bottom of the hill. Wouldn’t you know it—but I actually didn’t do too bad in the class. Here is photographic evidence of the fact that I did not suck the whole time:
I decide to go in for some hot chocolate before heading out to the bunny hill (which is what they call the beginners’ slope). It was during that fifteen minutes of warm chocolaty bliss that I forgot the whole damn lesson.
Me drinking hot chocolate instead of practicing what I'd learned
Stupidly courageous, I march on up that bunny hill and set out to really get the hang of this whole snowboarding thing.
I guess I didn’t realize that the bunny hill still had at least some slope to it.
I flipped backwards into an airborne summersault and landed directly on my left arm and tailbone.
I was done for the day. I found Kim—whose flailing attempts at controlling her skis resulted in her taking out two young children on the way down the first hill—and bought her a beer. We then watched as Rob, a completely accident-prone spaz in any other instance in life, cleared the Black Diamond like he’d done it his whole life…which is weird because Rob is another one of those rare native Floridians.
Oh well—at least I looked cool doing it—and now I have a spiffy matching set of a jacket, gloves and pants for next time 🙂