Trying Something New
The bright blue promised a picturesque winter day on Saturday morning as we sipped our coffees driving down route 12 north. We ventured to Smugglers’ Notch Resort to meet up with my sister, her husband and their two children. Anna (8) and Jackson (5) were trying skiing for the first time - something their mother, aunts and uncles have enjoyed since childhood.
In the spirit of trying something new, I signed up my fiancé, Walter, and myself for a snowboarding lesson. We are both very comfortable on two planks, and a bit apprehensive about the new sport. With our Burton Learn to Ride gear in hand, we met up with our group of fellow newbies. In our lesson we were divided into two groups of adult beginners, and we practiced with one foot in the board and the other not attached so we could get the feeling of standing sideways, looking over our shoulder and moving in the direction of the board. After a few trips up and down the small slope, (terrain based learning as the experts would call it) we strapped both feet on to the board and did the same series of moves: toe side J turns and heel side J turns. This time we were strapped into the board, so we needed to bunny hop back up the hill to try again. Easier said than done. Many of our cohorts found themselves winded from excursion, littering the slope like a battlefield. We soon graduated up to Sir Henry’s Hill to get a bit more speed and distance.
On our hike up the hill with our boards, I saw my young nephew Jackson. He said to me, a bit defeated, “I’m not very good at this.” I said, “That’s ok buddy, I’m not very good at this either. That’s why we have to practice, practice, practice!” Walt and I practiced our J turns and then began to link turns together. The instructors would watch us take our turns and then give us tips after we hiked up for another run. They had a gift of being able to explain the learning process step by step, something I could never to with skiing. They explained the aspects of learning how to turn in a step by step process, bite sized information for us to digest.
We met up with the kids, their parents, and their grandparents for lunchtime. A picnic in the sun wasn’t exactly what we had expected to do on this last day of February, but we all wanted to get back to the slopes as quickly as we could. We fueled up and headed back out to practice. My parents had enjoyed watching their family practice their new skills and cheered from the sidelines.
After lunch we continued to practice on the learning hill, going up and down with Anna and Jackson and their parents while my father documented our progress. I felt ready to take on the Mighty Mite later that afternoon. Well, halfway up the Mighty Mite. Walt wanted to hang back and practice a bit more before taking that step up, so I went on my own. I came back down to meet up with him full of confidence. I had done the entire run without falling. He thought he too was ready to join me up there and we both ventured up the double chair eager to practice linking our turns. As we rode the lift, we saw how differently the terrain looks through a new lens. As skiers, we mastered the green trails decades ago, but now we were finding a new challenge on the hill. Going down the lower Morse liftline, we both felt something ‘click’ and we got it: we could snowboard! We were thrilled to have a new sport to learn together on the mountain. During a break at the picnic table, I tried to make the analogy to Jackson and his father when they asked me if the two sports were similar. I responded, “Skiing and snowboarding are just as similar as baseball is with soccer. They are two totally different sports with a whole new set of challenges. Different equipment, a different stance…” But they do have one thing in common: they are fun!
Written by Kyle Lewis, Markeing Director at Ski Vermont