I took my first snowboarding lesson last week and let’s just say it was…worthy of note. When I was younger and visited Colorado to ski, I convinced myself that I never had enough time/money to get into a lesson, nor did I feel like I could waste precious time on the mountain with an instructor and away from my friends. Summoning many a flashback to said friends offering to “teach” me how to snowboard which inevitably ended in them telling me to just strap in and try it. An approach I do not recommend. I obliged my friends, and after a half day of leaving my dignity in the snow, swore I would never try snowboarding again.
Fast forward four or five years and I land my first job out of college at Winter Park Resort. I start learning the industry, getting to know the resort; meeting new people and yaddah yaddah yaddah…everyone snowboards. Dang.
Then this interesting thing happens where I convince myself that I need to learn how to do this in order to be, you know, cool…and I take advantage of the most perfect opportunity to learn how to snowboard the right way offered right here at Winter Park Resort.
“This year, Burton and Winter Park have partnered to introduce a new way to experience snowboarding for the first time. The Burton Experience Snowboarding Lounge features a dedicated area where you can meet with your instructor; familiarize yourself with all the cool gear and learn what lies ahead. Visit the new Burton Experience Snowboarding lounge for the best way to learn how to snowboard.”
Uhhh…PERFECT. I went for it.
When I walked into the Burton Experience Snowboarding Lounge, I was struck by the laid back, living room-esque area complete with couches, flat screen TV’s and lava lamps. I immediately felt less anxious with what I was about to do. As I walked around the lounge and checked out the extensive retail section, I came to a poster detailing how to prepare for a day of snowboarding. It chronicled what to wear, what to eat, how to stay hydrated, and tips on riding. Then I saw more posters instructing me on how to put on my gear properly, how it should feel, and what those details would mean later on while I was actually on the snow. I knew that this would be more about learning and doing things the right way than reinforcing bad habits and eventually getting to a point where the skill couldn’t be perfected anymore.
So I met with my instructor who helped me get fitted with some pretty good looking gear (relevant), and chatted a little about my on snow experiences as we headed to start the lesson. Outfitted with the whole kit; boots, bindings, board, helmet and goggles…I felt like the real deal. I talked with my instructor about goals for the day and goals for my future in snowboarding.
As I tried hard to channel my most inner “Art of Flight”, I spent my lesson learning all about “toe side”, “heel side”, the fact that I ride what is apparently referred to as “goofy” (fitting), and perfected the very basics of what it means to ride a snowboard correctly. There also may have been a “coming off the chairlift” incident that we won’t talk about.
Half way through the day’s lesson I was able to successfully traverse side to side on a green run part way up the mountain. I felt awesome. I was able to stand up on my own, turn (if only a little bit), and most importantly; fall the correct way. We had taken a lift, I was on the mountain with other guests and not confined to the Ski & Ride School carpet lifts all day, and had an instructor that genuinely wanted me to learn as bad as I did. I wish I would have done this five years ago.
January is Learn to Ski and Ride Month, and I’m telling everyone I can that if riding is their end of that bargain…the Burton Experience Snowboarding Lounge is the ONLY way to go. I came out of my day in the Lounge with a new confidence that while I may not be a pro anytime soon (…never), I learned the skills and concepts that would at least allow me to have fun and enjoy myself.
Cool status; achieved.