Last week, after eight seasons on skis, I decided it was about time I found out what all the fuss was about with Snowboarding.
So Holly and I persuaded Roddy from Pro-snowboarding to give us an introductory lesson on the beginner slopes of Val d’Isere. The first thing we had to do was go and swop our skis for boards and the correct boots. Well, that was the easy bit! Boarding boots…comfortable, easy to walk in, they almost make you swagger! And just one piece of equipment to carry…no poles (something I was later to miss more than I expected) and only one plank of wood! We were laughing all the way to the piste.
Following a quick guided tour of our boards and bindings we headed up the hill….no lifts yet, and then assumed the position. That being the one that snowboarders are renowned for – sitting down on their bums! Still smiling, we strapped in and then tried to stand up. First sign of trouble! For all those skiers who have never been on a board, it’s so difficult without poles to push up on. Only with the steadying hands of Roddy did I manage to get to my feet while watching with envy the younger, more supple Holly, spring up and head off down the slope.
Practising heel and then toe edges we gradually managed to slide our way down to the Village chair lift where we then had to unstrap one foot and manouvere our way onto the lift. Everything is done sideways on a board, walking, sitting, so un-natural. And don’t even ask me about getting off the lift at the top. The board ran away with me, Roddy grabbed me by the back of my jacket and tried his best to preserve my dignity but it was a lost cause. I ended up in a heap under the chair with the pisteur shaking his head and looking very un-amused.
Next run down, beginning to get the feel of this and quite enjoying the ‘feathering’ as it’s called. Even Holly was having trouble standing up so Roddy told us to turn over onto our knees and get up that way…very unelegant but it worked!
And suddenly we almost felt like we knew what we were doing. Well in theory anyway. So a few more disastrous trips up on the lift, not once did I manage to stay standing as I hurled myself away from the chair, but with alot of encouragement and support, literally, suddenly Holly and I were both doing turns. Well to be honest, Holly managed to link a couple and I just followed Roddy and held on to him for dear life.
Two hours absolutely flew by and although we both had very sore wrists, knees and bums by the end of it we both agreed that it wouldn’t be the last time we went out on a Snowboard. I have to admit to having a little bit more respect for Boarders now, catching an edge on a board means you’re down whereas as a skier you have the other ski to save you. So, if anyone sees me at the top of the Village lift on a board struggling to stand up, please don’t laugh, give me a hand!!