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Published: February 14th 2007
14th January 2007
Board- check, Boots- check, Bindings- check, warm clothes- check, beanie- check, bum pads- check. I was set. My board is beautiful and of course my pants coordinate with the colours on my board, which coordinates with the pattern and colours on my bag. Hey, at least I look the part. My first experience of snowboarding took place at Fuji 10 ski resort, near Narusawa at the base of Mt Fuji. (Wicked!!) Night skiing starts at 5, and is apparently better coz less people and cheaper, so this is what we did.
I was scared, excited, nervous and apprehensive (do you get the picture?) but had prepared myself for frustration and total embarassment. I was told it wouldnt be easy, I was told I would hate it and want to give up, I was told that the chair lift is one of the hardest parts. I was told right.
It went something like this- The boys (Matt and Simon) "Ok let's go!" Me "Where are we going" The boys "On the chair lift to the top" Me (not knowing any better) "Ok, let's go". So we get on the chair lift and are slowly winched to
And not just coz it was cold-
the top of the run. I am in awe at all the snow around me, and the snowboard hanging off my left foot and am laughing at the sign that says "No Smorking". We approach the top of the run, and Matt swings the bar up over our heads. They tell me to move to the edge of the seat, wait till they tell me and then to just stand up, putting my right foot on the board, which will enable me to slide gently off of the chair and to the start of the run. Inevitably, I stack it. Well it was my first go.
So we clip our right feet into the board and I try to stand up the way I see everyone else standing up, by leaning forward and standing. No go. Turns out this way doesnt work for me and I have to be the dolt that rolls over on to her front to push herself up to standing. Brilliant.
Ok, so I'm up and awaiting instruction from my 'experts'. I look around to see that they are a little way down the mountain. Me "Hey, what do I do?" Simon "Knees bent,
lean back". OK, I can do that, for about two seconds and then Im over. I stand again, now I'm moving, and fast, towards the orange barricades that protect us from the pine trees, or maybe the pine trees from us. I crash, coz I dont know how to stop. I stand again, Simon says "Ok, so your just gonna have to do that all the way to the bottom. And then they were off. Bloody fantastic, my words of advice are to go fast, without knowing how to control it and crash to stop all the way to the bottom". Well I am a good student because, once I got myself untangled from the orange bunting, this is exactly what I did. And the crashes were great. I wasn't fussy, forwards, backwards, sideways, it all worked, and I was pretty proud coz before each crash I reckon I was going pretty fast, and looking pretty good! About half way down the hill, 14 somersaults, 5 face plants and 2 cases of whiplash later I could easily have sat in the snow and cried. But I didnt. I kept going, finally made it to the bottom of the mountain (I
think it took me an hour, when it takes the boys 10 minutes) and sat down and had a rest.
Simon came to check on me (after about his 10th run) and after I told him off for not telling me how to stop he gave me a lesson, and I practiced this (just at the bottom of the mountain with the little kids). After a break for dinner I again tackled the chair lift and the mountain. I managed to make it off the chair lift by grabbing on to the boys and letting them pull me, and I managed to gain a bit of control over my board on the second run, that is, until I ran into the side, got stuck in the pine trees, took my board off and walked down the mountain. I dont care how many times you call me boardwalker, I'd had enough!
So that was my 'throw you in at the deep end and see if you come out alive' initiation to snowboarding, and even though I was exhausted, could barely walk and everything hurt (for the next week) I definitley didnt hate it and I kinda still wanted to
20th January 2007
I rock at snowboarding!!!
After last weeks painful nightmare I thought I was being a total glutton for punishment when I let Simon convince me to go again (c'mon, you need the practice). But I didnt want to give up, and I had gone and bought all the gear, so I was determined to make it worthwhile. We went on a Saturday, and there were a lot more people this time, so I just stayed low and practiced for awhile. Then all of sudden there was an announcement over the loudspeaker and a countdown began... 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.... and then the sky exploded with colour. Wooohhooooo fireworks! It was a breathtaking experience standing on that snow, being chilly, with nothing but white all around, to look up at the sky and see so much colour. Theres a lot to be said for fire and ice.
The fireworks done, I got back to snowboarding, and thankfully had a lot more fun this time, I could stop, I could control where I was going and I (wait for it) made it all the way to
the bottom without falling over (twice!!) I even succeeded at getting off of the chair lift twice in a row, but I jinxed myself by being too cocky and saying I had it sussed, I fell the next two times.
28th January 2007
One more time to Fuji 10 before we hit the 'real' snow at Nagano. This time Rebekah came to have a crack, and it was great having someone to practice with on the nether regions of the mountain. She kept up the trend of boardwalking on your first try, but says she will come again, another glutton for punishment!
As the aim of snowboarding is to zig-zag yourself down the mountain with left foot forward (right if your goofy, im still deciding whether i am or not!) now i had the hang of stopping i needed to practice turning, which is hard coz you really have to trust yourself and lean, and often results in tumbles directly onto the knees, which gets painful after a while. But you have to suck it up and keep trying if you want to get better, which is what I did. Chair lifts are still the bane
I gotta get me one of those!!
Looks so much easier, your already on your bum!
of my existence but the actual snowboarding is going well.
2nd February 2007- HAKUBA!!!!
It was time for me to experience real snow! Simon, Matt, Ben, Theresa, their Aussie friends and two Japanese friends, and I piled into Matts van and a hire car, loaded up with snowboards and gear and (at 3 am, Saturday morning) headed towards Nagano, to where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held. The resort area is Hakuba, and here there are many different slopes. I dont really understand it all, but where we were was called Happo one. We arrived at 8 am ish and checked in, got organised (this meant putting on my tights, bum pants, water proof pants, skivvy, jumper, waterproof jacket, gloves, beanie, scarf, ticket holder that goes around my arm and my boots). It was only a five minute walk to the bottom of the chair lift, and before I knew it I was on the lift and floating over the most snow I have ever seen. It was amazing, we got higher and higher and I could see more and more mountains just blanketed in the stuff. And due to good old global warming, its not even
a good snow year! I was so excited just to be able to look at it and pick it up, and of course photograph it! A fantastic experience for a snow-starved South Aussie!! But then came the not so fun part, falling off the chair lift, and then the scary part, standing up and feeling like you were on top of the world, with only one way to go, and thats down, with a snowboard strapped to your feet!!
It was sooo different to Fuji 10, firstly coz there are so many ways to get down the mountain, secondly coz it is so much higher, and thirdly, coz there is a lot of soft powdery snow, whereas Fuji 10 is quite icy. Happo one has many thin windy tracks, and while these are good practice there are a lot of people on them and Im not good enough to move, change direction, not crash into people and not fall off the edge, so I found these tracks a little bit stressful. However, when the tracks open up into big wide runs it is the most invigorating feeling to be coasting over the snow, and to be able to stop
myself, turn the other way and continue down. I am nowhere near as good as most of the people out there, and nowhere near as good as I want to be, but to be able to do this, to have learnt a new skill, to be able to do something that is just mine, and to be doing it in another country, where I am continuously learning and experiencing is something so special.
Thats the positive side. The negative is that I face planted off of a chair lift at the top of the beginner run (I was just preparing myself for an afternoon of practising my turns and looking for hot Austrians) and twisted my knee. Thats attractive!! I had to take off my board and walk down the mountain (yes I know, boardwalking again!). This was the end of my snowboarding that weekend. I made it to the cafeteria and found Ben, who dislocated his shoulder the weekend before (yes snowboarding) and Michelle and Oscar (the biggest cheeked baby youve ever seen) and settled in to watch everybody else pound the powder. And no hot Austrians came to my rescue. Hopefully ill be back on my board
Enjoy the pics!
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