I decided to go snowboarding last week after more than ten years.
My sister and I used to go together. We knew some of the surfers that competed, the monitors, the guys who designed the surf wear up in Sierra Nevada, a beautiful mountain top in the south of Spain, so close to the sea you can actually see it from one of the slopes. We were “in” with the cool crowd in what is already a pretty cool place.
It was somewhat different this time. For one it was her, me, our husbands, and our seven children, (two mine, five hers), ranging between one and eleven years of age. And while my sister has continued going to the mountain regularly, living in the tropics I did not have the chance.
We were realistic enough to book a family friendly hotel. One of those places with half board, day care and monitoring service where reception is connected to your room in case anyone wakes up during dinner. More importantly, one of those places where no one looks twice if during lunch your kids are climbing up the furniture, and when you get up it looks like a restaurant exploded beneath your table.
Logistics sorted, it still left the fact that I had no idea if I would be able to snowboard again.While we rented the gear (all truck loads of it for the whole tribe,) I kept debating weather to get a snowboard or give up and go back to skiing, which I did before becoming a cool snowboarder. While Skiing well is harder, snowboarding is pretty ruthless in that you are either in full flexed mode or you’ll fall flat on your face. There is no room for being lazy on a snowboard.
In the end, I decided to go with what felt closest, and put on a snowboard. Unfortunately for me, in the past ten years there have been quite a few changes. First, the boots I used were semi hard, almost like ski boots, while now they only use the soft version. When I learned to snowboard the front foot was almost facing the mountain with only a 45 degree turn, and both knees aimed to stay together. Now you are practically sideways on the board with your knees facing in opposite directions. So when you flex down it looks pretty much like if you are going to take a dump. Already I could see this was going to be a humiliating affair at the best of times.
I’ll spare you the details but here is a short run of the long weekend:
DAY ONE; after endless logistical problems with the kids we head off to take the “egg” which will take us to the top of the mountain. I nearly have a hear attack on the way up. Seriously, I was shitting myself in fear wondering how I was going to make it down. Once we got going it was actually not as bad as I suspected. Weird and all, but managed to turn and go down slowly but surely. Feeling pretty good about myself. Song of the day “you’re unbelievable” by that 90’s band
DAY TWO; went up only with the boys (added pressure). Feeling really energized and cool, although my legs can barely take it. The sun is shining, head song is still going, and start being able to go faster and take sharper turns.
DAY THREE: wake up with no will and find myself at the top of the mountain with no adrenaline whatsoever. Song of the day “I will survive” by ABBA. 'Feeling pretty confident and taking sharper turns' slowly becomes known as the first step of falling. One particular interesting fall went like this:
I am all excited that I am going down a black slope that I struggled with on the first day when –of course- I fall. I'm sliding down the mountain on my belly feet first and patiently waiting for the snow to slow me down. Eventually I get impatient and decide something has to be done, so I try to stick the board hard into the snow, this makes me rotate counterclockwise and I am now sliding down the mountain on my belly head first, like a penguin. Snow has officially entered all areas of my non-waterproof-lower layers of clothing. Again I grow impatient and decide something must be done given the mountain refuses to stop my fall. This time I am turned over like a waffle and am now going feet first again, but facing up. I give up.
I spent the last few runs trying to get myself hiked up so that I would have a good after taste, but the fact is that the snow is now heavy and I am tired (and hungry). I have decided to stay behind and sit on the mountain taking it all in. The place is beautiful. White covered mountains as far as the eye can see. The kids have been having a blast every day with their cousins. Absolute mayhem. I know that if I had a few more days I would be going down much better. But in spite of my shitty style, my frustration for being back to square two, and how old my painful legs make me feel, I can take pride in the fact that I am here, I am surfing. Live fast stay young. That’s all I’m saying.