When Blair bought me a snow board a couple years ago I’ll admit it caught me off guard. We had no trips planned or time off to go snowboarding but Blair knew that now when the time came we’d be prepared and we could just go.
I also didn’t think it would be two whole years until I actually got to use the damn thing but it seemed every time we planned a practice trip to small mountains in Winnipeg something happened where we would have to cancel.
When this amazing opportunity came up for us to stay at kicking horse mountain for free, thanks to some awesome friends we knew this would be our chance. I didn’t imagine my first time learning to snowboard would be on one of the hardest mountains/hills in Canada but I accepted the challenge and got mentally prepared for it.
I knew snowboarding wasn’t going to be easy but I also knew that the only thing that would hold me back would be fear. When kids learn to snow board or ski they’re at an age where they’re fearless and invincible so learning a new difficult skill like this is so much harder as an adult. It is true that it is such a mental sport.
I prepared my body for the challenge and created a workout program to work on the muscular endurance of my legs and lots of core work. I felt very physically prepared by the time we got out here. But I still knew there was only so much I could prepare myself for. I knew I would be falling a lot and accepted this fact so I tried to go in with zero expectations just to know that no matter how many times I fell I would have to get back up again.
The first time locking the boots onto my board was terrifying, I felt so uncomfortable and off balance. Then there was the chair lift… I will proudly admit I didn’t biff coming off that chair lift once even the first time haha. When I looked down at the mountain strapped onto this board that I never used before, feeling very unstable I felt the hairs on my entire body standing up. I was so scared but I reminded myself, the only thing that will hold me back is fear so let’s do some falling!
I was fortunate enough to go with a group that was very patient with me and waited for me along the way and were so encouraging so this helped a ton.
We did three runs the first day and I probably fell every 30 seconds if not more. I got up and fell, got up fell, got up fell. I did about two backwards somersaults in a row at one point, smoked my head where my teeth even smacked together, but I got up dusted the snow off and kept trying.
Eventually I figured out how to stop and snow plow but wasn’t even comfortable with that until about day two. After day two I could make it down the steep parts by “feathering” or basically going side to side while snow plowing down the whole way. I knew that snowboarding was way more than just that and that I needed to get away from feeling comfortable doing that and get onto the other edge of my board where again I was very wobbly and uncomfortable.
I’d also like to mention how much my leg muscles BURNED. No workout program would have prepared me for squatting for 20-30 minutes straight while twisting my core back and fourth. Very new muscle burns for me but of course I loved the exercise part of it.
On day three I came up with a great strategy because I now knew how to comfortably stop. I would get myself into a complete stop then force myself to turn my board towards the mountain and get on the dreaded toe edge of my board. I started falling again but I would get up and do it again.
When I found myself getting comfortable again feathering I would stop myself and literally talk myself through it. “Get on your toe edge” “Thats it” “I got this shit”. Hopefully too many people didn’t hear me and think I was crazy haha. By the end of day three I made it down the entire mountain without falling one time.
After practicing this strategy I just kept at it and if all else fails I’d go back to the basics and stop, then force myself out of my comfort zone onto my toe edge, then stop, then toe edge, stop, toe edge. By the end of day four instead of feathering down that last steep part I was carving! Not fast by any means I took it at my own pace but I was fricken carving and it felt so damn good!
Day five I got to soak in all I had learned and just enjoy trying new things, going through narrow parts, and even throwing little mini jumps in there when I was feeling it. We went to the highest part of the mountain which was twice as long down but I didn’t even question whether I was ready for that or not I just did it. I felt like I got it on day five and felt like a total bad ass! It was so rewarding knowing I pushed myself through all those uncomfortable moments. I think of how many times I fell day one and two and am grateful I went in so fearless.
This was such an empowering experience for me! I cannot wait for our next snow boarding trip and know it’ll be just that much easier to relearn again.
I’ll use this experience as a metaphor or learning lesson about life. When you push yourself outside your comfort zone and refuse to give up no matter how many times you stumble or fall, the reward will be just that much greater.