- Associated Press - Saturday, January 16, 2016

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - From the flatlands of Kansas to flat on my face in the powdery Montana snow is how I learned to snowboard. This was my experience at Bridger Bowl in early January during my first lesson with Ally, my friend who is a competitive snowboarder. She was graciously teaching me and my boyfriend, Jerry, the basics since we knew nothing.

The first time I got on a snowboard, I felt about as natural as a mermaid who’s sprouted legs. With one boot strapped in, Ally showed us how to move around. Before I knew it, I was shuffling a few inches at a time.

Getting to the lift was challenging for us newbies but we eventually made it. It was sunny and not too windy, so the lift ride was fantastic overlooking the mountains. The slopes seemed less daunting from the padded chairs and I could have ridden that around the whole day and been happy.

Ally explained very well a few times how to get off the lift, but in my excitement and general confusion, I wasn’t really listening. My interpretation of “push off” the seat looked more like “grab onto,” apparently. Falling the first time off the lift was expected, but I didn’t expect that getting up would be so hard. If it weren’t for Ally, the people behind us on the lift might have been there indefinitely.

Once upright, I worked on where to put my weight to balance. Next step was moving a little and stopping with my heels. I got pretty good at falling correctly and learned not to put out my wrists to catch myself. It was then when I realized that I hadn’t buttoned the snowskirt on my coat and my clothes had two snowballs worth of snow in them.

Jerry was catching on quickly and I gradually worked toward moving down the mountain slowly. I fell quite a bit and later, I realized it was partly because I was afraid to fall. When my body was stiff, I’d sort of flail my arms around to get balanced, which unsurprisingly led me to fall more.

My biggest victory was getting from the top of the mountain to the bottom. We went on three green-slope runs and that’s about all I could handle. Getting up and down all those times is more taxing than snowboarding normally I’d guess. By the end of the day, Jerry was making turns and I could move around but it’s clear I’ll need a lot more practice.

A couple days later we went back to try skiing and though I was shaky at first - everyone says this but it’s true - it was like riding a bike. My parents had fortunately made me go skiing in Colorado a handful of times growing up, so I picked it up much easier. (There was no skiing, snowboarding or sledding going on in western Kansas unless it involved a rope and a pickup.)

I’m just beginning with the snowboard and I don’t intend to give up on it, but I’ve found my winter muse is skiing. It makes me feel like an Olympian or a stunt double or at least competent. Since that day, I’ve already gone skiing again.

When I made the decision to come up here from Kansas, it was summer and I fell in love with hiking. In fall, I fell in love with the valleys, but I was a little concerned about winter. What was I going to do when the long, cold sleep hit besides watch Netflix and maybe read? Could I ever be prepared for a Montana winter having not experienced one before? I doubted it. And now I know that I was right. I was not prepared to become a winter sports enthusiast.

My worry about winter has gone. I can handle the cold and the snow because as long as it’s around, skiing and snowboarding will be, too.


Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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