I saw an Instagram post of one of my friends who went snowboarding recently. After the re-issued State of Emergency, I didn’t think anyone I know will go this remaining season. But then again, most people have their faces and hands all covered, and doing “social distancing” going down the slope, so I guess it’s the perfect activity during these times.
When I was younger I’ve always thought snowboarding looks cool, but I never dared try coz I couldn’t even ride a skateboard (my almost zero experience with these boards made me think they’re just the same). But my husband loves snowboarding and when we were just dating, he wanted to share the hobby with me, so he got me my first snowboarding gear and taught me how to snowboard.
I was very excited when I first went; looking all cool with my new gear. But the excitement quickly turned into nightmare. The first thing I needed to do was of course get up the hill using the chairlift. It, was, scary! Sitting on a 4-people chair hanging on a rope using a single rod with no other support, and my legs hanging as well carrying the weight of the board, with just a thin metal bar in front of me that doesn’t even lock… OMG! I have FOF (fear of falling), so the “chairlift time” was killing me.
As we approached the top, I felt relieved I could finally get off, but quickly realized that, “the nightmare continues”… So how to get off the chairlift: I was told that I need to sit sideways and make sure my board is facing forward and parallel to the ground. Then once it touches the ground I need to push myself up, stand on my board and slide away from the chairlift. Sounds easy right? No, nah uh, not easy at all! I had to do all these quickly while the chair is moving and before it turns. Some people said to just stand up and let the chair push me, and I’ll slide naturally — yes, my brain got that but my body didn’t. My problem was, since my rear foot was not strapped to the binding, trying to place my foot on the board to stand up quickly was a challenge. My foot sometimes ended up stepping on the binding or sliding off the board, which caused me to lose my balance and fall down. And, falling down as you get off the chairlift is not just scary but also embarrassing. Since the chairlift is moving behind you, it can hit you on the head, and to avoid that, the controller needs to stop the entire lift for you. Hence, embarrassing… I thought, “So this is what ‘extreme sport’ is”.
The actual snowboarding part was fun, but also a bit scary coz there were really good boarders passing all around me so quickly, and I was worried they might hit me. But my husband said, “Don’t be afraid of the good boarders coz they have control. But be careful of the beginners…” Ah, makes sense. I started out leafing facing uphill, then facing downhill. Then side slipping facing uphill, then facing downhill. I was going slowly and fell many times so just doing two rounds took a full afternoon. After getting used to these, I moved on to turning. But the heel side turn (facing downhill) scared me coz if I fall, I could roll down the slope, so it took me a long time to learn it.
The slopes are far from Tokyo so we only got to go two or three times each season. It took me five seasons to finally go down smoothly a beginners slope without falling. And the last time we went, I even nailed down carving! Yatta! I was elated with the improvement so I celebrated by getting new cooler gear. I was so looking forward to the next trip, but a week after that, I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. We had been trying for a year at that time, so it was quite precious, thus we decided to stop going that season.
The following season, my son was still just 4-6 months old so we didn’t go. Then the season after that, the pandemic started so we didn’t go then either. And this season, the pandemic continues, plus I’m pregnant again and now in the hospital… I wonder when we can go to the slopes again, and when I can finally snowboard properly. I hope my body hasn’t forgotten how, coz I don’t want to go through the beginner practice again. By the way, I still dread the “evil chairlift”…
*Yatta (やった, Japanese), expression like “Yes!”, “Hooray!”, “I did it!”