Learning to ski and ride | SummitDaily.com

Learning to ski and ride

I was raised in the South. When we got snow, television programming was interrupted every five minutes for “Winter Storm Watch” updates, cars lined up in emergency lanes on the highway with their lights flashing, schools and government buildings closed, and not a loaf of bread or gallon of milk could be found anywhere in the city.

Mind you, the quarter-inch of snow that had fallen wasn’t even sticking yet ” but it could, and we wanted to be prepared. So it’s not that winter sports had never appealed to me; they had just never occurred to me.

Having moved to Summit County from Atlanta in August, I’ve come across a key element to socializing here. Most conversations at some point generally revolve around skiing, snowboarding or a plethora of other outdoor winter activities.

I’m going to have to find my niche in this wintery wonderland.

Being the clumsy and cautious girl that I am, I was pretty sure that my day snowboarding would end in a hospital bed. I went the safe route and signed up for Burton’s Learn to Ride (LTR) program at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

The Burton LTR equipment ” shorter board with click-in bindings ” supplied for the program makes the learning process much more gentle.

I met up with my group of three other novice riders and our trusty instructor, Chris Juarez.

“Snowboarding is all about being comfortable,” Chris said. “I just relax and let the board do the work.”

After some explanation of our equipment and rules of the mountain, Chris herded us over to a special area set up for beginner snowboarders like myself. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to compete for space (read: be incredibly intimidated) with experts on the slope.

The first thing we worked on was getting up on the board and side slipping down the slope on the heel edge of the board. We also worked on traversing in a falling leaf pattern across the slope. Chris gave a lot of hands-on help and positive reinforcement, which really aided in the learning process.

As I was going down the hill, I realized what he meant. Snowboarding is kind of a Zen thing, “yoga on skis,” as my classmate, Greg, put it.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted but happy that I’d done well.

Skiing was slightly more familiar terrain for me as I had visited Breckenridge in January with my fiance’s family of skiers.

I took the K2 Learn to Ski (LTS) class in Breckenridge to avoid getting stuck crying at the top of the mountain. The K2 LTS program uses shorter skis, which make for slower speeds, a helpful element in the learning process.

My group was composed of two other beginners and our instructor, Gates Lloyd. We got familiar with our equipment indoors, and Gates told us that the only two motions we needed to learn today were turning and tilting our skis.

“Your ski is like one big extension of your foot,” Gates said. “Whatever your foot does, your ski will do.”

We headed outside to a small slope similar to the beginner snowboarding area. While there, we practiced walking uphill, stopping and tilting our skis.

My group became pros at the beginner hill, so Gates decided it was time to take us to the Quicksilver lift at the base of Peak 9.

I managed to make four successful runs down the Silverthorne trail on Peak 9 by the day’s end, and I feel pretty confident about going out again alone.

I learned that in skiing, confidence is a key element. One of the women in my group was doing a great job with her turns, but her confidence was shot so she fell a lot more.

Skiing is going to be my winter sport of choice for now, but my lesson experiences taught me not to be afraid to challenge myself.

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