I put on my first pair of skis at age 16 for a whopping 3 hours….and then I proceeded to never ski again.
I remember having fun, but the opportunity really never presented itself again. Sure, sure I went to Snowbird with Oakley Women a few years ago, but it was just weeks before a marathon and my fear of injury kept me from strapping myself to two tiny sticks and doing the splits downhill.
BUT when we moved to Colorado, I decided we would find a winter sport we loved. I already know snowshoeing rocks my world, but I had to give the whole “hitting the slopes” thing another try. WINTER PARK
Being in Denver we have our choices of places to ski, but a long time friend LOVES Winter Park and so I wanted to go there first!
I reached out and they were happy to have us come try a Max 4 Adult Snowboard Lesson. In essence this meant we got 3 hours with a snowboard instructor and just 1 other adult because not everyone showed…basically private lessons.I wanted to request doing the entire lesson on flat ground, but I think that would have defeated the purpose, so up the mountain we went. Look out Winter Park Snowboarding School…I’m loose in the wild.After a lot of debate I decided that snowboarding made me feel less likely to blow out a knee… yeah it’s true my life revolves around ensuring I can run, I’m not ashamed. I opted to try snowboarding before skiing for a few reasons:
- I felt less likely to inure my knees
- I knew if I tried skiing first I’d probably not snowboard
- It looks really cool
- I have decent balance from things like SUP
- Less gear to haul around if I do like it!
Winter Park teaches on a board called the Burton Method, which Heather from FitAspire swore to me is the best! They could have put a piece of wood on my feet and I wouldn’t have known the difference, but I did like it! And I did enjoy that walking in snowboarding boots is much easier than ski boots.
This is real life! David captured from above one of the many times I fell on my way down the mountain with Instructor Melissa answering the questions I inevitably had once I fell.
I learn by repetition, but also by gathering lots of information.
While our instructor was SUPER nice, we both agreed her instructions were lacking. In all fairness, she was probably the perfect instructor for someone who had skied previously or had some basic knowledge…I however am more like a toddler learning to walk.
In our first few minutes with the board we practiced clipping in one foot and moving, straight line moving down the hill, then a toe turn and a heel turn. I kept asking her to show me how to stop, but she said that would come UP on the mountain…at which point she pointed to the MASSIVE (to a newbie) slope down which people were flying.
Being me I said “nope not doing that“.
Eventually she explained that after riding the lift there is a small slope we would do and no we absolutely wouldn’t be doing that blue ride. This for me was a good example of someone forgetting what it’s like to be a beginner, we know nothing!After successfully getting on and off the lift, it was basically like ok go down the mountain. To which I again said…”nope not doing that“. I asked that she and David head down, while I watched for a bit. David skied as a kid and felt comfortable pretty quickly, though he agreed he was learning on his own versus getting instruction. At that point another instructor was leading a group down and showing them…AH HA how to slow down, how to stop…yes things I was as yet not instructed to do. So watching him, I figured out how to stand up and started making my way down the mountain one ass fall at a time.
And yes I wish someone had taught us how to fall. David’s last run of the day ended in a fall that has him moving around today like he was kicked in the side by a wild donkey.After one run down the slope sans any broken bones, I once again successfully navigated the ski lift (seriously why is it so darn scary to get off that thing!).
David and our instructor were catching some rays waiting at the top for me and both fully relieved I’d decided to actually down the slope. What can I say we started by snowboarding approximately 1 foot and then I was at the top of a slope…my brain doesn’t connect the dots that fast.Feel the fear and do it anyways...the motto that got @runtothefinish down a mountain Click To Tweet
This time the instructor wanted to snowboard down with me and I managed to do it approximately 10 times faster than the first round now that I had the initial fears of falling out of the way and some of the tips I picked up watching instructors as I moved.
This is where the 1:1 instruction helped as she held my hands to practice the heel stop and then forced me to practice the toe stop (yeah with that one you put your back to the downhill, no me gusta). Meanwhile, David was swooshing along and so after a few more runs, we sent him off to another green slope to finish the day…and yes this is where the bruised rib, sore bum fall occurred, while I ended the day mostly with sore arms from white knuckling my way down the slopes all day. (Video of him killing it in the works).
OVERALL we LOVED Winter Park. There are a bazillion slopes for those who have a clue about what to do and it was really easy to get through parking and board rentals. Everyone we met was super friendly and there are a variety of options with the ski school so you could work on just one aspect of your skiing and be placed with people in similar levels.
Mostly I loved watching the kids without fear learning to fly through the trees. Definitely wish I had learned as a kid, I absolutely believe that’s the way to go.
Final thoughts: I was still terrified most of the time. I loved being in the mountains. I will definitely try again. I did not calculate how much harder it is to go slow on a snowboard than skis. I will absolutely be taking ski lessons soon too!
Read more>> 10 Tips for First Time Snowboarders (What I Learned the Hard Way)
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