how to snowboard: step by step instructions

The phases of learning how to snowboard (note that these phases come after learning how to attach yourself to a snowboard, and walk with it, etc. which is a tutorial all on its own):

  1. Figuring out how to stand up. This takes approximately half of the first day. Possibly longer if you have weakling shoulder muscles and frankly, who doesn’t?
  2. Managing to not fall right back down again once you stand up. This is quite possibly even more frustrating than the first phase, because you now know just how hard it is to stand up, and just how much work went into it, and it was all for nothing. And now you have to do it again. This takes at least the rest of the first day, but probably a whole lot longer. Snow is slippery. Your board is slippery. You’re on ground that slopes downward. Things aren’t really in your favor. I recommend really warm, waterproof, possibly padded clothing.
  3. Movement. This is actually the easy part. It mostly consists of not falling down. The slippery nature of the snow, the law of gravity, the angle of the mountain all do the job for you. Getting down the hill the first time may take you several hours, depending on how well you’ve mastered phases one and two.
  4. Gracefully boarding off of the lift without falling or taking out anyone around you. Forget it. This will take years. Nothing you can do it about it.
  5. Mastering turning.
  6. Actual snowboarding. I don’t know exactly what this entails but it seems to include flying over the snow and jumping over things. I don’t actually plan to ever get to this stage so I don’t know much about it.

I am currently working on the turning part.

The first year I went up to the mountain, I sat in the warm lodge and drank hot chocolate. I would sometimes glance out the window and laugh at everyone outside in the cold, wet snow. I also would laugh when someone would come in, covered from head to toe from an obvious unplanned meeting with the ground. This is the version of snowboarding I recommend most.

The second year, I went snowboarding about 20 times. I only got around to working on turning about the 20th time. How did I turn the other 19 times? I didn’t. I swooshed back and forth and tried not to fall or go to fast or fall on my head and tumble all the way down the mountain to the parking lot. I was very proud of my success.

And then the snow melted and I lost my learning to turn momentum.

The third year, it didn’t snow. All winter. I got to try and fail to turn only one day.

We don’t seem to be having a problem with snow this year. It was even snowing at our house, so we decided to skip out of work early yesterday and head up. I was scared and nervous and stressed. I whined. A lot. Like always. And I practiced my turning. All afternoon. “I can’t do it,” I’d whine. “You’re doing it,” P. would tell me patiently. “You just need to practice.”

Here’s the thing with snowboarding. I see the young guys flying around, whooping and yelling, having a good time. I’m not having that kind of fun. What I feel is a sense of accomplishment when I actually manage to figure parts of this out. Snowboarding is like any complicated thing that looks like chaos until you work out all the individual pieces. Like C++ code, football, knitting. Once you see the patterns and break it down, you don’t feel completely lost and overwhelmed. Well, that’s what I assume. Knitting still seems pretty overwhelming to me.

Snowboarding is still too chaotic for me to just swoosh down the hill and enjoy, but finally, after all this time, I’m beginning to work out the patterns.

And if you follow these simple steps, in four quick years maybe you too can enjoy snowboarding.

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