Snowboarding: letting go

Me in a silly hat: first day on the slope

Me in a silly hat: first day on the slope

I’ve never been snowboarding before until recently – but I can already tell that it’s going to be a central part of wintersports out here in Haute-Savoie. I loved it!

With my educationalist cap on (a little dusty and frayed at the edges, but still usable) its learning curve at these early stages has a pleasing simplicity to it. You start learning on one edge (either the toe or heel edge) and then the other. When you’re competent at this (that is, you don’t fall down every single time you get up on the board) you are ready to turn.

When you turn, you begin on one edge and when you are past the turn you switch to the other. This three step process – from (say) toe edge, heel edge, then using both during a turn – has an obviousness about it, an inevitability in the linear transition from one stage to the next. At least in theory. Doing it is another matter. I can tell you it’s a steep learning curve but once I’m past the stage of turning more than falling over, I’m on my way to becoming a ‘boarder’. That means I’m allowed to comment upon the quality of the ‘powder’ – but you won’t find me saying ‘gnarly’.

Even from my short time on the board, I can say it’s a sport that depends upon confidence. Take the turn, again. On a board you’re used to using the edges for control, of direction and speed. But at one point on the turn you need to accept the fact that the board will be – albeit momentarily – facing down the slope and going faster than you might like (for a noob like me, anyway).

What you realise quickly is that it’s about confidence. You need to let go. It’s a bit like sleep; you can’t forcibly will yourself there, you have to wait and let it wash over you. In those tiny moments when it all fits into place on the board, it’s unforgettable. You’ve just got to try not to want it too much, lest it doesn’t come again easy. In that, it feels just like the rest of life.

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