Not so old
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado, CO
“Jackie, are you in your 50s?” asked Kimberly Nicoletti, the editor of the Spring Guide, as she burst into my office. “You are? Excellent! Will you be my 50-something who takes a snowboarding lesson and writes a first person account?”
My mind flashed back to three years ago when my daughter tried to teach me to ride one spring day at A-Basin. I remembered Kelly assuring me at the top of Molly Hogan, “Those guys on the beach are laughing with you, not at you. They love to watch old people try to snowboard.” Old? I’m not old; I’m only 56! I’ve skied Colorado for the last 45 years, averaging 80 days annually for the last 20. Of course I can do this!
I felt rad carrying my board to the slope for the lesson at Breckenridge Ski Area. There were only four of us in the class, and our teacher Heather Wilson, who has taught for 10 years, exuded contagious enthusiasm. After safety lessons and equipment checks, we went to the First Time Beginner area. My confidence began to fade. We learned toeside, where we had to move almost backwards, and heelside, where we got to see where we were going. We learned to J turn, using both the $100 bill theory and our “chick hips.” Sliding toward the trees backwards (that fall-line problem), I quickly learned to move in the other direction in the interest of self-preservation. I had linked a turn!
Our last run down was on a beginner slope swarming with rider wannabes just like us. It was scary. I totally forgot the right moves, and Heather admitted that the longer a person has skied, the harder it is to ride, as the weighting is very different. But I didn’t crash into anyone, I linked three turns and I made it to the bottom intact.
Although I happily stepped into skis the next day, I kept thinking about those three (wow! three!) linked turns. Kelly will be proud of her not-so-old mom.
By Karen Wray, a 40-something
When I was asked to participate in the full-day Roxy Snowboard first-timers class at Breckenridge, I hesitated. I am a 43-year-old who has been skiing since I was 12. I am a strong expert skier who seeks out powder, trees and bumps. I grumble about how snowboarders “ruin” MY bumps and how riders make me nervous by zooming by too close.
I had taken a snowboard lesson nine years ago at another Summit County resort, because I saw the growing popularity of the sport and didn’t want to be “left out.” Besides, snowboarders get all the cute clothes. But after the morning session of a full-day class, I didn’t return ” after eating lunch, of course. I never learned to stand up on my own, never made it down the hill without taking off the board and was sore from head to toe. My thumbs hurt for three months.
The Roxy All Women’s Camp was a totally different experience. Our instructor Heather Wilson brought patience, analogies and fun into her teaching. I enjoyed the small class of four women, and the personal attention made all the difference. Heather started the day by checking students’ equipment to assure the rental shop did not have us in too wide of a stance. She changed the bindings on several boards before we left the lodge. She talked to us on the lift, building our confidence and finding out what our concerns, fears and goals were.
When we arrived at the teaching area, there were fewer people than on the regular slopes, so I relaxed. I realized my biggest fear was running into someone. We did muscle memory exercises on the snow without our boards before getting on the magic carpet for our first run. I felt a little juvenile riding a conveyor belt, but what a relief it was that I didn’t have to get on and off of a lift yet. Heather told us to hoola hoop to demonstrate weight shifting. She made us try walking up and down the hill on tip-toe and heels to show the proper weight and body position. I found that I had “chick hip” on my first run ” a common ailment among women that she showed us with other female boarders on the hill. Chick hip happens when, instead of shifting your weight from your core body, you stick your hip out to the side.
Rather than ages making a difference in learning, I think the first-timers on snow versus experienced skiers factored more into our learning curve. The avid skiers fell into skier styles that made the board go the opposite direction than they had planned. It was frustrating at first ” kind of like learning to back up a trailer with your vehicle. You can do it, but it feels strange. We were told your eyes are in your shoulders and hips in snowboarding, not your head. I think I would rather keep my eyes in my head. Teaching an old dog new tricks? I’m not sure. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t get hurt. And I did get an impressive report card at the end of the day detailing all of the new skills I learned, including loading the chairlift, standing up on my own and even linking some heel- and toeside turns. So, am I ready to switch to boarding? I don’t think so ” although I still envy the cool outfits.
By Cheryl Rudd, a 30-something
I moved to Summit County this summer, after spending the past few years in East Africa, where snowboarding was definitely not an option. So when the opportunity arose for me to go to the Roxy Camp at Breckenridge this past weekend, I accepted with alacrity. The snowboarding camp appealed to me because it was being taught by all women to all women ” virgin snowboarders.
There were four women in my group, in our 30s through 50s, plus our instructor, Heather Wilson. She asked what our goals were for the day. Unsure of what to expect, other than everyone telling me that my butt would be sore the next day, I was just trying to decide whether I wanted to learn to ski or snowboard. We talked about our apprehensions: having both feet strapped to a piece of wood, getting on the chairlift ” and even more frightening, getting off of the chairlift. And then once we were up there, how in the world were we going to get back down?
Learning a new sport makes me wish I was a child again, with that intrepid determination ” not to mention being closer to the ground. But the first half of the day consisted of getting comfortable on a snowboard, working on balance and stance, going up and getting off of the dreaded chairlift and feathering down the hill. Our instructor was incredibly patient, and she used metaphors to explain techniques that made it easier to understand. My favorite: Imagine keeping a hundred dollar bill between your cheeks (yes, those cheeks), when learning to position your body correctly for toe edge.
After lunch we worked on heelside and toe edging. Just when we started to feel a little comfortable, we moved to a busier, steeper run. This is where I was supposed to learn to turn. This is also the part of the lesson that made it uncomfortable for me to sit the next day. I tried to maneuver from the toe edge to the heelside edge, straining to remember all of the pointers and positions I learned. Meanwhile, kids half my age zipped past me with complete agility. I really tried. I’d start out fine and then panic as I neared the trees, envisioning a crash. Then with quick jerking movements, I’d ultimately end up crashing into the snow. I’d get up, try to figure out why my board wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, and try again.
As for my decision to become a skier or a rider, I’m still undecided. But I’m committed to give it another shot, and by the time you read this, hopefully I’ll be turning down the intermediate runs ” either on one board or two!
by Lory Pounder
I spent my first day snowboarding cruising down the hill at high speeds, making turns and feeling confident. Impressive, huh?
OK, that’s not actually true. Let’s start again.
Impressive is not a word that fits anywhere with the real description. In fact, the day mostly involved falling on my butt and making painful indents in the hard snow.
My pace was that of a 100-year-old jogging up a street in high elevation. My turns resembled a baby learning to walk. And I don’t even want to mention the chairlift experience, except to say thank goodness my news editor, who taught me, had good balance.
My adventure began in November, shortly after I moved to Summit County. I figured if I’m going to live here, I should take full advantage of the activities around me. I’ve skied since I was little but decided it was time to learn something new.
Despite my editor protesting the idea of teaching me, he seemed to be the logical choice. I thought that since he had been patient and helpful while teaching my technology-impaired self how to use the computer system at work, he would be just as patient and helpful on the hill. Luckily, I was right.
As we came upon a group of first- or second-time boarders taking a lesson with Breckenridge Ski and Ride instructors, my teacher told me to listen. They were saying everything he’d been saying all afternoon.
“Toe side! Toe side! Get those toes to the sky,” he’d scream while walking down the hill next to me with his snowboard under his arm. “Get some speed. Turn, turn, turn. Heel-side! Heel side! Get ’em up.”
By the end of the day, even when he wasn’t yelling those words at me, they were playing over and over in my head. It wasn’t long before I started linking turns, mostly staying on my feet (much to the relief of my butt) and realizing the fun possibilities snowboarding has to offer.
The next time out, everything went more smoothly, and it started to really click.
Still, I was thankful for the fleece sweater I had thought to stuff in the back side of my snow pants ” something I highly recommend for first-timers. It didn’t look very cute but was well worth it.
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