Back in February I took up snowboarding – and whilst I’m by no means good, I can get to the bottom of the slope in one piece and (usually) still upright – and somehow, even though I might be screaming internally, I can at least feign a bit of composure as I do it.
But when you see the likes of Jamie Anderson and Jenny Jones smashing the Olympic Slope Style like they came out of the womb doing it, what the commentators fail to articulate is that: Snowboarding is really fucking hard.
Now, I knew it would be, I really did. You’re strapped to a wooden board, on snow, going downhill, fast. Of course it’s going to be hard. Before you master the skill, you’re basically gravity’s bitch – so you better just pray for good terrain and hope to god you don’t kill anyone on the way down.
As I say, I knew it was going to be a hard graft, but I guess it didn’t register until I was lying face first on Manchester’s dry slope completely unable to get up.
Honestly, I’ve been putting off writing about my first time on the slope because, quite frankly even two months later, it makes me cringe to my absolute core. But everyone starts somewhere – even the pros still face-plant from time to time. Plus I feel like it’s my duty to represent for all the naturally un-sporty girls who might be put off by how hard snowboarding is to start with but still, (in my case, out of sheer stubbornness) peel themselves out of the powder and get back on the board. Because, girls; once it clicks, it’s so worth it.
“If they ask, just say that you’ve snowboarded before – in Italy or somewhere” my fella, (and I should probably mention that he wasn’t “officially” my fella at the time, we were still just dating. Needless to say that any attempts to look cute and impress the lad ended when the snow was stained orange with my makeup, but we’ll get to that…) muttered at me as I strapped into my bindings for the first time.
“But I haven’t”
“Yes. I know you haven’t – but they won’t let you on the slope otherwise.”
Shit. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so confident. Perhaps there was going to be more to this that just looking cute in a beanie.
“I’m sure I’ll pick it up.”
What I didn’t know was, before you can even start to tackle the whole standing up on the board and flying down the slope part of snowboarding, you have to actually get up to the top. Easy, you just use the drag lift, right?
Not fucking easy at all.
“Right, you just put the circle in between your legs and let it drag you up. Just, whatever you do, DON’T sit on it.”
I rolled my eyes.
“It’s literally the size of a CD as if I’m going to try and sit on it.”
Famous last words.
Of course, I sat on it and immediately hit the floor.
The lift carried on uphill and, somehow, in a desperately attempt to untangle myself, the circle caught behind one of my knees and I was dragged halfway up the slope on my side. Screaming.
Eventually, someone hit the emergency stop button and the entire system came to a halt.
Without the sound of the lift creaking you could actually hear people in the queue mumbling “oh for fucks sake”, while others, stuck halfway up the slope, craned their necks around to see which dickhead had caused the standstill.
Eventually, after I was hoisted out of the snow by my fella and a particularly disgruntled looking employee, I did the walk of shame back down to the bottom of the slope.
“Ohhhh do you know what. That was the wrong side. You lead with your left foot so you should really be using the left hand lift.”
“Now you fucking tell me.” I replied, picking the icicles out of my hair.
By this point my nerves were shot and, quite frankly, I was cringing really, really hard. But, with the promise that the left hand lift would be much easier, we got back in the queue.
As my turn came around I gingerly grabbed hold of the pole and – terrified that I’d sit on the circle again – attempted to hold onto the lift with my inner thighs. Kind of like I was trying to ride a tiny horse.
Big misake. Huge.
As the lift moved, the circle slid out from between my legs and, for some reason, in the chaos I forgot that I could just let go of the pole with my hands… and was, once again, dragged halfway up the slope. This time face first in the snow.
At least my screams where muffled this time.
Once again the emergancy button was pushed. Once again disgruntled staff members jogged through the powder to rescue me. And once again mumbles of “ohhhh Jesus FUCKING christ” echoed from the queue.
Call it determination, stubborness or sheer stupidity; but somehow – despite being truly mortified – I forced myself to get back in the queue. And somehow, somehow, I managed to strike it third time lucky and make it to the top of the baby hill, ready to finally start snowboarding.
I’d love to give you a fairytale ending. To say I strapped into my bindings and soared through the powder like I was born to do it.
But I didn’t.
I fell over immediately and spent fifteen minute grunting and sliding down the snow on my arse like a boxtroll.
Eventually, after nearly causing three different crashes as I rolled like a bag of spuds to the bottom of the slope, I was taken to one side and asked if I’d ever snowboarded before.
“‘Course I have… in…. Italy.”
“…You’re lying aren’t you.”
And with that I was chucked off the dry slope for causing chaos.
But hey, as they say, God loves a tryer.
Until next time… x