semi-athletic snowboarding

I like to think of myself as coordinated. I danced enough, played just enough sports, and rode around in the back of a pickup throwing hay to the cattle for enough years that in my mind, I’m totally semi-athletic. So when Jason said we were taking the kids up to Brian Head a few weeks ago to sled and let Harry snowboard, I naturally volunteered to learn to snowboard with him.

Because I’m semi-athletic.

I spent some time visualizing it in my brain, making sure that first, I could snowboard in my mind. How much different can it be from skiing? I can semi-ski with the best of them. Sure it’s been 18 years since I was last on the ski slope, and sure I might have blown my knee out and hated every minute of it back in the 90’s, but time changes things. It’s a new century. That was another lifetime (a slightly more athletic lifetime but whatever). When I added my semi-skiing and my semi-athleticism, it obviously equaled completely qualified to learn to snowboard.


We loaded up the kids with the full array of winter wonder wear, complete with their polar base layers and this year’s Goodwill snow boots.

Note to you all: never buy snow boots at the Goodwill unless you check to make sure they aren’t cracked on the bottom. Poor Georgia.

From the moment we got to the slopes we were…uncomfortable. First off it was totally cold. Never saw that coming. Hey, we live in the desert now, somehow in the last year I forgot what wind and snow actually felt like. Way less desirable and romantic than I remembered.

We got everyone in their layers and stood around the car staring at each other. Somehow in my preparations I had forgotten about the element of necks and faces. My poor babies, five minutes in the freezing whip of the wind and we were all cheek chapped.

We headed for the lodge to gear up and split up. In retrospect, the foreshadowing was all there. They just happened to be out of the right bindings for my boots and had to “make do” with something a little too small.

Bad sign.

I kissed Jason and he and the kids went up to the overlook to watch us meet our class and instructor.

“Hey!” said super-young-snowboard-instructor-guy. “Awesome seeing you here, let’s introduce ourselves!”

Our class consisted of myself, Harrison, and three other 13-year-old boys with their athletic (not semi-athletic) father.

“So I just want you all to strap your right foot in, click it in, there you go.”

I looked down at my right foot and the bindings and tried to put said foot into the allotted space. Unfortunately my back isn’t so great and my boobs are too big and I couldn’t see the bindings unless I bent over. Ouch.

“Um, do you think you could help me out here? I’m not sure how to…” enter super-young-snowboard-instructor-guy. He got my foot strapped in and started the lesson.

“So, I just want you to like, push off with your left foot and slide to the right, that’s it, great job guys! Lookin’ good! You’re naturals!” I watched all the tweens float along on their boards, easy peasy.

Looking down at my feet I felt a momentary sense of absolute panic. For starters, my foot was bound to this board. As in, it didn’t come off. The board was totally stuck to my foot. For seconds, when I “pushed” off toward the little dip, the board moved. With my foot. I had no choice but to follow.

Instant claustrophobia. Obviously it had nothing to do with my semi-athletic ability, it was simply a matter of feeling constricted.

But I’m a good sport and so I followed the board and my foot two feet, then another two feet, until we finally made it to the top of the mountain. Perhaps “mountain” is a tad bit exageration-istic. Two foot drop is closer, actually I guess it was more of a two foot gradual descent. It’s all semantics, really.

It was the hardest two foot gradual descent of my entire life. I was almost paralyzed with fear, not even exageration-ing over here. I froze and watched all the kids smoothly glide down the into the little dip and come up the other side, no trouble.

So I took a breath and I let the board take my foot over. The edge. Of the cliff.

Not exhilarating, not exciting, just binding and terrifying and totally out of my control. Five feet and I fell flat on my semi-athletic back.

At this point I had two choices. Pick myself up and figure out how to get to the group without having to ride on the death board, or pick myself up and figure out how to get to the group without having to ride on the death board.

I obviously did what any logical, semi-athletic, thirty-something mother of four with a bad back would have done.

“Um…excuse me? Can you please help me get this thing off my foot?”

(My 12-year-old really likes to tell this story, by the way. That’s his favorite part.)

Jason was furious. Like, seriously ticked off at me. But, with a little weaseling and begging I convinced the equipment rental manager to let Jason and I trade places so he could spend the day on his rump and maybe be a little less judgmental. Since the above episode had only taken seven minutes, they were happy to trade us out.

I’m happy to say that Jason hated every minute of his four hour snowboarding foray, he’s a skier down to his long underwear and isn’t big on change. Harrison was a natural.

Thank goodness he got his father’s athleticism.