Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, spelunking, taxidermy or sign language, learning a skill takes time. Everyone knows you don’t have expert ability right away. During that time, however long it is, you are learning. Some people pick up certain skills extremely fast; others extremely slow. When it comes to snowboarding, I happen to be one of the slow-ish ones. I’m in my third season, and I’d say I’m about in the middle of the arc of progression. Definitely not at the top. Hopefully not at the bottom.
I go through phases with my snowboarding where I get a little overly concerned about progression. Mostly this comes from the fact that 99% of the people I ride with are faster (and sometimes just plain better) than me. I get frustrated and angry with myself for not keeping up, making others wait for me, getting nervous on steep slopes, etc. and then I forget what it’s all about: having fun. Snowboarding is just not one of the fields where I necessarily excel under pressure (exhibit A: Mirus taking me down Australia and coaxingly encouraging me to “TURN! TURN!” the whole time. Not my ideal situation. However, it was probably pretty entertaining for him). Of course I know that I’ll never improve if I don’t push myself. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose sight of my priorities.
On Wednesday night I took my best friend Emily to Mt. Spokane for a snowboard lesson. Although she’s had a snowboard for a long time, she only rides a few days a year and never learned to turn on her toe edge. Seeing as I just learned that two years ago, the experience was fresh in my mind and I was able to relay it well enough that she was making full turns by the end of the night (for those of you who remember learning to snowboard-that’s a big deal!). It helped remind me that everyone starts out in the same place and how far I’ve come since then. It was a nice change to be on the teaching end!
On Friday, I set out alone to finish out some trails off Stella that I hadn’t marked off my trail map yet. Lately I’ve been catching an endless amount of you-know-what because Dave only has a few trails left on his map and I have about a few plus twenty. This is where your attitude comes into play: I was in a fantastic mood for no particular reason, so I set some specific goals for myself and accomplished every one: do every run off Stella I needed to mark off, and to finish out the day with a more challenging run that I normally do. I even got a job offer on the lift. Doesn’t get much better than that.
The thing we sometimes forget about learning curves is that they are completely individual. It’s all about you, your comfort level and your attitude. If I have more fun on lighter pitches and mellow tree runs, then that’s my deal. Shredding down Pucci’s Chute or Siberia just isn’t my scene (yet). And lately, I’ve become more okay with that. It’s all about enjoying yourself and having a good attitude about where you are in your learning curve as you attempt to traverse it. Take small victories as they come and remember to just have fun. If that means your style is a little mellower than the extreme cliff hucking, rail sliding, cornice dropping ripper then hey, man, it’s cool. Or if you are one of those super shredders, that’s cool too! Just do your own thing. That’s what I’ll be doing.
– Katie Ross, intern