Snowboarding

Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan
Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan

I promised to blog about snowboarding, and here it is. But first, the backstory.

Andrew has been snowboarding for over 10 years now. He was one of the cool kids who picked it up in high school and now looks like a pro. I, on the other hand, never even thought about snowboarding before we got married. Within a month of marrying, Andrew had ordered me a snowboard and bindings and taken me shopping for gear at Flatlanders, the local ski/snowboard shop in Mission. I was extremely apprehensive. I am not known for my athleticism or strength, both of which seem to be prerequisites for successful snowboarding. However, Andrew reassured me before our first trip to Colorado that it would be easy - I'd pick it up in a cinch - it would be a blast.

Three years later, on our third snowboarding trip, that prediction had not yet come true.

Learning to snowboard is

brutal

. Maybe, if you were a skateboarder who grew up skiing, you'd pick it up like a kid picks his nose - hardly realizing what you're doing but enjoying it, all the same. Any muscle memory that I'd gained in those first few years of snowboarding had been completely lost since our move to Asia. By day 3, I was sore, frustrated, and bruised - not a happy wife. But Andrew patiently sat by me while I kicked my board in frustration and cursed the mountain. I had been so terrified of falling that it was all I could do. In snowboarding lingo, I was too nervous and unbalanced to go toe-side, and it was impossible for me to do S-curves - all I could manage was to go down mountains heel-side, ending up at the bottom with massively aching thighs.

Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan
Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan

But on day 4 of snowboarding, something clicked. I had waken up that morning, listening to the muffled sounds of morning, watching snow fall steadily outside. I considered giving it up, refusing to go out anymore. But the thought of sending Andrew out there alone, of being the wife who refused to do

fun things

 with her husband because she couldn't be bothered to learn it, was enough to drive me out of bed, back into my leggings and sweaters and neck warmers and the junior boys' pair of snowboarding pants bought on clearance from Flatlanders (there are benefits to being skinny, tall, with minimal hips). And when we walked outside, down the hill to the ski lifts, we looked up at the mountain but couldn't even see up the first run, let alone the top of the peaks. Snow was coming down in heavy layers, thick snowflakes covering our shoulders, legs, heads in powder.

Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan
Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan

We decided to ride all the way to the top, and by the time we arrived, the snow was so thick, it was like walking into a cloud. Visibility was near zero, and somehow, it freed me from my fear of falling. The very top run was downhill yet on a grade, so that you had to board on a diagonal down the hill. We could barely see 10 feet in front of us, and it felt like we were floating down the hill, floating through a cloud of cold and wind and ice. I took a few heavy falls, snowboard toppling over my head, but all I fell on was powder - thick, fluffy snow like nothing I've ever seen. Andrew and I started laughing when we realized we could fall all we wanted, and we would just be swimming in snowflakes. Halfway down the hill, we both were stuck in the powder, our boards disappearing into the snow. Andrew shouted at me to pack down the snow with my hand to push myself up, but when I pressed down, my hand sunk down to my shoulder, disappearing into the snow. We waffled our way down the hill, then waded through waist-deep powder.

Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan
Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan

Our view from the highest run

Somehow, in the midst of blindness brought on by a blizzard, I found the fun in snowboarding. I still am a bit wobbly and I still fall at times, but I overcame my fear of falling off the side of the mountain and found out why Andrew loves it so very much, and why he wanted me to experience it with him. That's definitely one of the joys of marriage - standing side by side, hands clasped, experiencing the same joys and disappointments and wonder throughout life.

Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan
Snowboarding at Nagano, Hakuba, Japan