From face-plants to carving: a beginner’s tale of snowboarding

I went snowboarding with one of my friends the other weekend, and it changed my life.

I know, it’s a bit dramatic, right? But seriously, those few hours up on that snowy mountain changed my perspective on a few things — like letting go of fear and living in the moment. Total clichés that I’ve always known existed but never really experienced what they meant until a few days ago.

Snowboarding is hard — and that’s a huge understatement.  But as someone who has never really taken part in winter sports (aside from ice skating), I found even strapping my boots onto the board difficult. You don’t realize how slippery snow is until you have a board strapped to your feet and go from zero to 60 in just a few seconds. After finding your enough balance to reach the top of the slope, you take a look down and realize how high up you are.

The doubts come in: Can I do this? Is it worth it? Am I just going to fall down and break something? But then you put all worries aside and just go for it. The moment you crest that edge and start moving down, you’re invincible, even if it’s just for a few feet where you crash and burn like I did. Multiple times. Still, I don’t regret it one bit.

Being surrounded by numerous others who may not be experts, but might as well be, can be quite intimidating. It didn’t matter that there were many people there younger and older than me. To me, they all looked like professionals. You could imagine my apprehension for sliding down this mountain, which seemed tiny to others but huge to me. However, aside from thinking that I’ll likely never see the majority of these people in my life ever again, I knew I needed to try it. If I didn’t, I’d end up regretting the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to. Basically, I took my fear and pretty much got over it. I didn’t let it hold me back from doing something that I wanted to try.

Fear is a monster in that way. It eats and eats at you until you have so much anxiety and doubt that you just say forget it. That’s fine and all, I guess, but you often end up missing out on some really great things and that’s just a shame. I think it’s better to go out and do stuff that scares you — within reason — because aside from the euphoric adrenaline rush, you get a sense of accomplishment that stays with you.

There’s no question that falling down all day felt a bit defeating. However, since it was my first time snowboarding, I went with the expectation that everyone falls at first. Although at times I wanted to give up, I didn’t, because I thought it would have made the entire trip a waste of time.

My last run down the hill of the night is what made everything worth it. After crashing and burning every few yards, I finally made it down a good portion without losing my balance. I properly executed the toe slide that I was working on all night. It was a bittersweet moment for me. As much as I wanted to get back up and do it again, my body was telling me otherwise. All those bruises and beatings I’d taken earlier in the night were finally catching up to me. Sticking out that landing, though, instead of falling like I had been doing, had me smiling the rest of the night. I was glad to get over my fear and go for it rather than taking the easy way out and wonder countless ‘what if’s.’

Unfortunately, I discovered this new seasonal passion just as the snow begins to melt. I don’t know when I’ll get to go snowboarding again, but just one experience already has me craving more.

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Twitter: @lcoppola92