I never thought I would be even decent at snowboarding. Most people know that I grew up in Southern California, where it’s miserably hot in the summer and lukewarm in the winter. In the summer it was too hot to even go swimming because our pool felt like mild bathwater instead of being cool and refreshing. You couldn’t even go outside barefoot without blistering your feet as the temperature crept past a scolding 120 degrees some days. This meant that the winters were wonderful though. I remember that on the coldest winter days I couldn’t find anything to wear because all I owned were sandals and shorts. That is hardly even an exaggeration! This means that when I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in September 2011 I was in for a shock! I really did not have any money, and the first winter I was here, temperatures even crept into the negatives a few times. I was miserable. Of course, not having proper attire, and not enough money to buy winter gear made it worse. After a couple winters, I finally felt prepared to take on the winter without feeling totally miserable- but I still really dreaded the lack of sunshine and freezing temperatures.
When I started College it seemed like everyone could Ski or Snowboard, and to me it always seemed like an impossible “rich kid” sport. The most inexpensive season pass was $500, and after buying the expensive and mandatory gear, a season of snowboarding would easily cost a grand (ugh!) I never thought in my entire life I would be a snowboarder. I had gone a couple times before, but never enough to get the hang of it. Every time I went I had to re-learn everything and could hardly even start the day off with a “Falling Leaf.”
I knew I needed something to do in the winter though. I have always been an active person, but I really don’t like the gym. Every winter that crept by left me depressed, and months would go by without any outlet. All of this mixed with the lack of vitamin D really was wearing on me, and I didn’t know if I could handle many more winters indoors. Finally, May 2016 I graduated College and was able to buy my first car, and for the first time I had the funds to adequately save and pay my bills as well. As winter began to creep up, I felt my anxiety growing. I decided pretty quickly that I was just going to buy a snowboarding pass and say “Screw it!”
I purchased my pass early August, well before any of my friends purchased theirs because I knew I had to start from scratch buying gear. Every paycheck I would buy more gear to prepare me for the Season. By the time the first snow hit, I had all of my brand new gear and was ready to get on the mountain.
My first time getting off the chairlift I fell. However, surprisingly enough, it was the only time I fell getting off the chairlift all season! I think that first run took me an hour. Only two lifts were open this early in the season, and the run that I did only went half way up the mountain. It was a really snowy day, and I could hardly see far ahead anyway, which made trying to learn even harder. Every time I fell I had to dig myself out of a heaping pile of snow, and boy did my arms hurt! I think I did that run 4 times that day before going home with aching bones.
I went home that night and watched TONS of youtube videos on how to snowboard. I seriously sat in front of my computer for hours! If you’re wanting to learn how to snowboard without taking lessons, and without a friend to teach you I HIGHLY recommend watching SnowboardProCamp on Youtube. The guy who films all of the videos (Kevin) is so incredibly helpful and truly will teach you everything you need to know. He has plenty of videos that will help you progress your riding as you get better too. I could not recommend this channel enough! I don’t think I would have learned to snowboard without it!
By the end of my third day Snowboarding, I was able to link my turns down the mountain. This was a HUGE success for me because I had never been able to even successfully utilize my toe side before. This really opened up the world of snowboarding for me. I truly think that if you’re wanting to get into snowboarding, you should buy a pass and just get up there as much as possible. Day passes are $70 at Brighton where I board, and after rentals a day of snowboarding will easily cost $100. Not to mention, when you’re learning, you’re utilizing muscles you probably haven’t used much before, so you get tired easily and it is hard to get your moneys worth.
I went up so many times by myself this season to just give myself the freedom to learn at my own pace. Some people learn better having someone there to guide them, but for me I get flustered when I am constantly getting feedback. So much of snowboarding is practicing balance and gaining the confidence to shift your weight down the mountain to switch edges and turn. If you’re like me and confident enough to try by yourself, then I would recommend heading up alone. Also, remember to be patient with yourself. Snowboarding really is hard to get used to.
I started being able to board with friends who were better than me, which is when I really started to push myself to learn more and more. I started being able to butter, hit jumps, ride switch, board through trees, and even feel okay on black diamonds and some double black diamonds. Once I felt good on “groomers,” I even began hitting the trees which is my favorite thing to do on the mountain. Now as the season is coming to an end I feel really comfortable hitting some of the smaller boxes in the terrain park, and hitting some pretty big intermediate jumps.
Remember though, the more hours you put into learning something new, the better you will be. You can not expect yourself to get right on the mountain and have everything feel natural. Be patient and just keep trying.
I never EVER would have thought at the beginning of the season that I could do even half of what I can do now. I have been up to Brighton resort to board about 30 times this winter, some half days, some full days and put in tons of hours both by myself and with friends. For the first time since I moved here, I am really sad that winter is coming close to an end. I am absolutely positive I will be buying another pass next season, and am incredibly excited to see what new skills I will learn, especially if I was able to accomplish as much as I did this season.
Believe me, If I can learn to snowboard- anyone can. I have never long boarded, surfed, skateboarded, or played soccer. I used to always joke that my feet have a mind of their own and don’t listen to my brain. This winter has been the first one in so long that I haven’t gotten depressed and I feel ready to jump right back into hiking and backpacking.