In my blog post last week I talked about how easy it is to take being able to ski and snowboard for granted. Well, here’s one thing we don’t take for granted: how hard we have to work to be good. Snow sports keep you pretty darn humble.
Don’t get me wrong, I never ever thought I was pro status or anything. And I’m not a person that constantly gets themselves down; I’m generally pretty happy. I really thought I was improving this year and gaining confidence. And then snowboarding, fickle harpy that she is, brutally slapped me back down into my place.
Yesterday started off a little chaotic with the power outage, but the weather was awesome and the snow was looking pretty fresh. I was super excited to head out and watch the Seans film “This Week @ Schweitzer”, which I had never done before. We hit the Great Escape, down the Great Divide and stopped at the top of a steep run. My intern sister Jaimie attempted to take the video camera pack down but, being an East coaster, she’s not used to heavy NW pow. (And a word about that video camera pack-it’s huge. With the camera and stuff in it, it’s probably the approximate weight of an adolescent Siberian tiger. It could double as a shipping container for large dogs.)
Briggs headed down to catch up with Jamie so they could film at the base of the run, leaving me and Mirus at the top. I figured all I needed to do was kick back and stay out of the shot, but then Mirus yells, “So Katie, what do you think about this?”
“About what?” I asked, innocent as the blue sky.
“About snowboarding this run.” The sensei wasn’t letting me off that easy.
“Well I think it looks pretty (expletive) scary, but I’ll give it a go,” I responded suspiciously.
The next words out of his mouth caused my stomach give a little heave:
“Good, he’s gonna film you coming down.”
Ok. I wasn’t all that nervous about being filmed or potentially being in the commercial; I was nervous because I was being handed a chance to show my stuff, and looking down the face of that run, all I had were premonitions of going down in a blaze of ruin.
A bit of background: I am an extremely careful person. Ergo, I am a careful snowboarder. “Careful” and “snowboarder” don’t often go in the same sentence. I was even called a “timid” snowboarder by a frustrated friend at one point. But I never even attempted snowboarding until right after I turned twenty. I didn’t ski first; the closest I’d ever come to ripping down the snow was in a sled. Learning a completely, utterly, totally different sport at the age of twenty is hard. I was already pretty set in my ways of what I was and was not comfortable doing, and you can’t be like that in snowboarding. You have to take risks. It’s tough to get your mind and your body in sync. For example, I know that falling in powder won’t hurt. I know that I can make that turn. I know that I actually hardly ever fall. I know that I have a lot more skill than I think I do. But to ‘know’ these things in my mind and for my body to actually believe them are two very different things.
So Mirus ripped his film run, of course. He makes it look so easy. Then Briggs waved that it was my turn. I started out okay, but on my second turn I came too far around and got totally stuck in the wet snow facing completely uphill. Humiliation seeped from my every pore as I turned around and slowly rode the rest of the way down. Once I made it I faced another of my most hated challenges: a left-facing cat track, all the way to the village. Cat tracks are basically my mortal enemy. They’re tight, they’re usually crowded, and they make me nervous.
After I finally made it back, not exactly in a sunny mood, the power had returned and Briggs asked me to come in and update all the reports. So I updated all the web and phone information, which cheered me up a bit because I was spreading good news and I knew people would be pumped to hear it. I worked the rest of the day and then took runs with Jamie later on, which went better than that morning had. But I still couldn’t shake myself out of the funk I was in, and left feeling like I was given an opportunity to succeed and blew it. All I wanted to do was rewind the day and try that run again.
Today I was determined to refurbish my attitude. And, lo and behold, that changed everything. I had a great time riding with Jaimie and Dave’s visiting friend Nick over to the backside to take photos of the elusive Outback potato. So if you saw two girls taking pictures of a potato with a really nice camera, it was official business people. Not that we weren’t pumped to dig into that potato once the photos were done! I felt much better about my riding there and back, too.
A lot of people say it doesn’t matter how good you are as long as you’re having fun. That’s incredibly cheesy, but also incredibly true, and I pretty much always do have fun. I’m known for busting out laughing when I fall. As long as you don’t feel (or don’t care) that people are judging you, it’s all good. Staying positive is really the key. I know that it’s really about skill, not speed. But there are good days and bad days and frustrations in any sport.
So I won’t let myself become permanently discouraged. Today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. I am still amazing lucky to be here and (almost) every day is a magical, perfect day that reminds me why I love snowboarding so much. Maybe I needed a day like yesterday to kick me in the ass and push me instead of allowing myself to just sit comfortably where I’m at. I may be progressing a little slower than some people, but I’ll get there eventually. I just need to get back on the proverbial horse, and that’s something I already know all about, having been bucked off an actual horse a time or two. (And I always got right back on.)