What I Learned From Learning to Snowboard

This post comes from our blog intern, Aubrie!

I have never considered myself to be naturally talented at traditional sports. At a young age I knew that the arts were more my realm of expertise. So, I invested a great deal of time in ballet rehearsals, acting lessons, and design classes while avoiding engagement in common sports that many other friends enjoyed. But through the years I realized that there are so many ways to remain active; each person has to discover what moves them. So I began to explore different types of sports and when I first soared down a mountain trail with a snowboard strapped to my feet, I knew that I had found the one for me.

The adrenaline rush that snowboarding gives me lights a fire inside my soul and I know it will be something I do for many years to come. Just like surfing, snowboarding is a board sport that encompasses an entire lifestyle. I am completely in love with the way it makes me feel so in tune with a movement focused on feeling alive. To quote the adventurous big mountain freerider, Jeremy Jones: “The attraction of snowboarding is the freedom it gives you. With a snowboard on your feet the sky is the limit. You can do anything and go anywhere.”

However, like many other things worth experiencing, it doesn’t come easy. Olympic athletes definitely don’t learn double backflips overnight without breaking a sweat. As I began to watch countless videos of experienced riders, I realized that I loved how their actions seemed so effortless and free. I was drawn to the adventurous culture of the sport, there seemed to be a significant difference between the way I struggled to catch a baseball with my dad and the effort needed to learn to carve turns. With snowboarding, I was captivated, and insistent on learning. After attempting lessons and instructions from friends, it finally became apparent that I was going to have to teach myself. It took many falls, bruises, and yes, some tears, but the effort was so incredibly worthwhile.

Along my journey from first-timer to avid rider I gained some insight that helped me to enjoy every second spent gliding through white powdery snow:

Confidence is Key

Your mentality really does mean everything, and that applies especially when risks are involved. The danger of snowboarding mostly lies in the amount of fear you allow yourself to possess. Thus, confidence is your best friend on the mountain. Most of my falls happen from mental moments of weakness. Psyching yourself out is a phenomenon that is so common — fear just loves to creep up into the crevices of our minds — yet so easy to fix because your mind has the power to push those fearful thoughts away. Each first ride of the winter I seem to doubt my skills. For some reason fear takes over and I’m caught wondering if I’ve suddenly forgotten everything I’ve learned on a board. But before I even take the first run, I like to envision myself ending it with sheer satisfaction… hitting every turn, every jump with pure ease… helps to regain my confidence. Dare yourself and eventually you will conquer every trail on the mountain.

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Be Persistent Yet Patient

If you fall, get right back up EVERY time. Trust me, falling is bound to happen… a lot. Each time you fall doesn’t have to be a blunder to your ego either. Be patient and know that within time those falls will happen less and less and you’ll only gain more and more confidence as you ride.  A lot of people are captivated by the same things that attracted me to snowboarding, but I’ve found the things that set apart those willing to learn and those not are persistence and patience.

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Embrace the Culture

Once you’ve arrived to any mountain resort, whether it be East Coast, West Coast, New Zealand or the French Alps, you are faced with a niche of subculture. Of course subcultures are often stereotyped and generalized but all the same they are incredibly interesting. Take it as an opportunity to be a part of something that connects people worldwide. Embrace the chance to surround yourself with passionate folks — both skier and snowboarder alike —  and learn from those around you. There’s no doubt life’s better when you ride together!

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Find Your Own Rhythm

Personally, I have the need for speed when riding. Feeling the wind whip through my hair and the cool air sting my reddened cheeks gives me a rush unlike anything else. With practice comes the establishment of what riders like to call “flow.” Flow is the rhythm you obtain from sequentially carving and connecting turns. Once you have the basic mechanics of a turn, your rhythm will naturally develop. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, strap in and start the descent, your flow will take control and gracefully glide you all the way to the base. Once you’ve discovered this magical experience, you’ll realize there’s no other feeling like it out there. It feels completely natural and oh so free.

Enjoy Your Surroundings

The mountains are a winter playground. Their frosted peaks provide points to see the sacred beauty that the world has to offer, and  snowboarding can be the perfect time to get in touch with this beauty. I think this is also one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the sport so rapidly. The great outdoors are my best friend. There is simply nothing like being active within nature.  I can’t even count how many moments I’ve been riding and had to stop and simply drink in the beauty of everything around me.

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There’s Always Room for Improvement

Some of the best riders I know never stop pushing themselves to improve. No matter your level, there’s always a chance to learn something new. Improving also happens the more and more you take time out for the sport. Once I was hooked, I did everything I could to go as much as possible in a season. The more you ride, the more you learn, and taking each time you go to the mountain as an opportunity to focus on a new area is one of the best ways to actively improve. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun either!

I encourage you to experience the mountains and get out there ladies!

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5 years ago

Beautiful piece! I am definitely not athletic at all, but now at 22 I realize I miss spending time outdoors and it’s so important to keep moving. I love your point about embracing the culture and I think that snow sports do have a very unique one. Lovely views!

Warm Regards,
Alexandra
http://www.littlewildheart.com

5 years ago

so very wonderfully put, such beautiful guidelines as a way of life. i think its so awesome that you discovered something so meaningful as well as the exhilaration of an exciting new sport!

Best Wishes,
Susan
http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWeaverOfWords

5 years ago

Great post! Totally agree about psyching yourself out when snowboarding. I’m always afraid I’m going to fall when I try to carve foward and have stopped myself from getting the right technique down because the thought of falling is always on the forefront haha.
Solid tips for my next ride out, thanks!

http://www.spruceandgunn.com

5 years ago

this is such an encouraging post. thank you! i just recently went and learned this past Christmas break. my question is: how long did it take for you to learn?

i feel like you are just so gifted and talented in snowboarding that it clicked with you quickly. i have a strong desire to get better, but i feel like i’m going to take FOREVER to finally get something like toe-side!

5 years ago

your photography skills are absolutely amazing! keep up the amazing work <3

kat
5 years ago

been snowboarding my whole life. this post was great :) would love to see some free peep outdoorswear.

Jeana
5 years ago

I never really thought about it before, but yes — those are the same reasons I’ve find myself on the mountain every winter.

5 years ago

I agree with all these points! I was the exact same way, never the sporty type, but snowboarding just clicked for me. I only get a chance to go about 3 or 4 days a year but they’re definitely the best days of my winter season!

http://www.callistoknits.com

Jen
5 years ago

I love winter sports too!!!
It’s really best season for snowboarding!

http://www.safran-bolu.com

Phae
5 years ago

I started snowboarding at 8 years old, and I absolutely hated it for the first three years. I started taking lessons from an older instructor there, and something clicked. Ten years later I absolutely love it. I love what you said about t the adrenaline Rush you get when flying down the mountain. I felt the exact same way when I learned jumps, and got real air for the first time. It’s amazing!
I’ve never heard anybody talk about “flow” though. However Im on the east side, maybe it’s different where you’re from.

Cain
5 years ago

Good read, thought I was the only one who freaks out before every first run of the season!! So reassuring to know others feel this, I had a rough season last year but am hoping this one goes alot better. Persistence.

Colin
4 years ago

Yup… I agree… I was responsible for some of my worst wipeouts by trying to slow down… Ride it out or die. Confidence is when your feeling of fear is trumped by the your desire to just screw it.