The 13 emotional stages of learning to snowboard

Okay so everyone and their neighbour has tried skiing or snowboarding at least once in their life but I’m of the ilk that runs and hides at the mere mention of cold weather or, dare I say it, snow.

Since moving to Germany I’ve been gung ho about getting into the culture and one of the major pasttimes when winter draws in on mainland Europe is skiing and snowboarding so I bit the bullet and, armed with The Snowboard Academy’s YouTube video and my gorgeousexpertsnowboarder boyfriend Mario, I hit the Allrounder Mountain Resort and ski hall, in Neuss, with gusto.


The whole experience was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so I thought I’d tell you about the 13 stages I went through.

ShockOMG that’s a pretty big investment into potentially breaking my neck!

So you need a board, boots, helmet, googles, gloves, pants, trousers and a jacket. If you buy it all you’re looking at a 2,000-euro hit on your bank account before you even go anywhere. This is why in my 35 years on this planet I’ve avoided the slopes. In the end I borrowed the hardware from Mario and bought a full set of clothes for 45 euros in the Aldi supermarket sale! In fact I’m so shocked at the discovery that Aldi does snow gear I’m posting a link.

Guilt – “You’re not taking this seriously enough.”

So apperently I couldn’t just start learning straight away. Mario devised an exercise routine of daily 35-minute jogs, and a four-times-a-week weight training routine to strengthen my legs, abs and back. He’s hardcore when it comes to fitness so I made the executive decision to cut it all by half and do what exercises I could remember. When I proudly reported back my progress the injured look on his face made me up my cardio by two additional morning jogs and squeeze in another weights workout.

Doubt – I was rubbish at skateboarding and rollerblading…

I was the kid who bugged my parents for months until they got me a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles skateboard, which I rode once, fell over and then decided that using my sister’s expensive make-up to make myself look like a clown was much safer. The skateboard now rests in the discarded toy graveyard with the inline skates, icecream maker and science set.

Arrogance – It’s just sliding down a hill on a plank!

The YouTube video made it look so easy! The cute male instructor told his student to do something and the student simply did it. Didn’t fall, didn’t cry and didn’t thump the snow in frustration. I, on the other hand, spent most of the time on my arse, holding back my tears and trying not to freak out.

Suspicion – so this isn’t a joke?

snowboarding pants

One of my pals told me that her husband stuffed his pants with a jumper, on his second day of learning, because his bum hurt so much after falling on it so many times. I thought I’d pre-empt this world of pain and created some self-made protection padding by stuffing a wooly scarf down my pants. Mario laughed a lot. Wait a minute…

Shock – why did you just push me?!

We were hanging out in the livingroom talking about the snowboarding stance when a friend told me to stand in front of her and then she pushed me! Following that she announced that the leg I put forward to steady myself was my front foot for riding. I ride with my left leg at the front.

Panic – something is going to break!

snowboarding grin

Look at my fake! I was strapped into my boots so tight I couldn’t move my legs below the knees. How was I supposed to move around? My feet were pointing off to the left and I was facing forward so my back hurt too. I was convinced I couldn’t cope in this position for more than 10 minutes.

Shame – I’m the old git who can’t do it.

I was feeling fine on the learning slope with all the other newbies until this five-year-old girl came for her lesson and started doing slalom runs down the slope. I, on the otherhand, was mastering the technique of getting up. From my back I dug the heel side of the board into the snow, bent my knees and tried to push myself up with my hands. I couldn’t master it and just lay there like an upturned beetle. Mario had to haul me up after every time I fell – I’m a lucky girl 😉

Disbelief – how the hell does anyone do this!

I had to learn to brake first, which meant knees bent, back straight, heels down and toes up. Not forgetting arms out and head up. This is a ridiculously awkward position when you’re feet are pointing slightly to the left and bound to a board and I know about awkward positions. I do yoga.

Pure and utter fear – I’m never letting go of you!

The bigger we are the harder we fall so I gripped onto Mario in the same way a cat would if you tried to give it a bath. It took a while to calm down and do anything without holding his hand. In fact, I write this post with aching hands because I was holding on to him so hard for so long.

Acceptance – I’m going to fall. A lot.

Once I fell a few times I got used to the idea of spending most the day landing on my bum (thank goodness for the DIY padding) and after that I felt more confident.

Enlightenment – and then it happened!

With the board perpendicular to the slope, I had to slide forward and brake and then repeat all the way down. All I could manage was slide forward and fall until my fourth descent when something clicked and when I did the brake stance, I actually stopped. My body and brain were finally working together!

Determination – I’m not giving up.

I could brake so my next step was to concentrate on moving. Sliding to the right or left meant putting my weight on the desired direction and pointing that way with the corresponding arm while braking slightly to control my speed. I did this over and over again and after four hours of trying to snowboard I got it. So after lesson one I could stand, brake and go forwards down the slope.

After lesson two I’ll hit the real slopes.

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