Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow play with the bunny

This weekend I took my daughter snowboarding at Mountain High Ski Resort with a few families from my son's Boy Scout Troop. I enrolled the bunny in an all-day beginner's snowboarding class (heh heh. Now she's a snow bunny ;) while I signed up for two beginners' skiing classes, one in the morning, and one in the early afternoon.

At the morning class the head instructor asked us if we'd been skiing before; the two young ladies standing next to me both said no, I said yes. So the ladies went with one instructor while I went with another. My "group" lesson was almost a private lesson until a teenager turned up late, and when he said he had skiing experience he was assigned to my "group". So there were two of us plus Alex the instructor, which is almost the same as a private lesson. By the end of that morning's lesson Alex had us working on hockey stops and parallel turns, which are basically hockey stops but where you don't actually stop, so not really "beginner stuff" any more.

The bunny's class included lunch so I didn't see her during the middle of the day. I had a break between the morning and afternoon's class, so I scarfed my lunch down then got a quick run where I worked on my hockey stops and parallel turns. I finished my run at the class meeting spot where the students and instructors had already gathered and yes, I pulled up with a hockey stop. When the instructor looked up at me, before he could even ask I announced, "Not my first time." As if my "showboat entrance" hadn't announced that already ;)

Once again I got bumped up to the "advanced beginners" class and when I saw Alex standing with the other instructors I waited for her to look our way, then waved and called out to her. She came over and we chatted briefly and I asked if she was going to be our instructor her again. She said she was working on it, and I think it helped that her Dad was one of the head instructors because she did get assigned to my group again. For me, that was good because she was able to continue my instructions from where we'd left off before lunch.

By now I was getting pretty cocky and my over-confidence resulted in a couple of spills. Although all four of us in the afternoon class would take a tumble, I was the first one of us to go down when my snow plow didn't plow enough snow and I wasn't able to stop in time. Fortunately the others managed to sidestep and leave me a gap to wipe out into and I literally fell down at their feet.

Alex laughed and made a comment about this being the true test of a skier's athleticism. I got one ski under me, stabbed my poles into the snow and heaved myself up. Alex laughed again and said that I'd defied the laws of physics by getting back up the "wrong way" while somehow making it look easy.

"You did say it was a test of my athleticism," I replied. "I had to rise to the challenge."

Near the bottom of the mountain we stopped next to where I knew the snow bunny's class was being held and...there was her red and black jacket! "There she is!" I exclaimed eagerly, like a proud father, "there's my daughter."

I watched as she took a turn on her snowboard. One of the intructors held her hand, holding her in place, then when it was her turn he gave her a gentle shove to get her going and...she was snowboarding!!! My snow bunny was riding her board! Just like a real snowboarder. She rode it down, down, down, all the way to the bottom of the children's run before running out of slope, stopping, then sitting down as casual as anything. Was I a proud Papa? You bet your arse I was! :D

When I finally finished my class I made my over to where I'd seen her earlier and there she was with her Instructor. When she comes back next time, he told me, she can go to Level 3.

From novice to Level 3 in one day. Definitely a proud Papa moment.

I asked her if she was done, or if she wanted to keep going.

"Keep going!" she exclaimed. I took her across to the chairlift which took us up to the easiest of the runs, and as we waited in line I instructed her on how to get on without falling over. And then up the mountain we rode, daddy and daughter, on the ski lift. It's a good thing Mama wasn't there to see us because there were no safety rails on this ski lift.

She avoided getting cleaned up by the chair when we got off, but she did take a spill down the exit ramp. But after strapping her rear boot back in (SOP for boarders is to unbuckle your rear boot while riding the chair lifts) we were off, down the mountain; the bunny in the front, me following keeping an eye on her. When she started to go too fast she bailed and sat down, and she did that a few times. I'd pull up next to her and wait as she stood back up, got her balance...and back down the mountain we went.

And then she didn't sit down as she built up a little too much speed, and she didn't fall over either. I watched incredulously as she spun her board 90-degrees, dumped some speed, then continued to spin the board, essentially doing a 180 with a brief pause in the middle, and when she was done she continued riding. As if it was nothing. As if she hadn't just learned to ride a snowboard that very day.

Proud Papa? Absolutely! That's my snow bunny!

Unfortunately I'm not sure how often we can get up to the snow. She obviously had fun, and she picked up snowboarding fast. So it would be something the two of us could have fun doing together. At least until she surpasses her old man and starts boarding down double black diamonds as if they're a walk in the park. Which would probably be on her third or fourth lesson ;)


BugHunter said...

Hey John, mind if I ask how old Bunny is?

I've been skiing for almost 30 years and boarding for 20. I have usually recommended people start out skiing and switch to boarding later (with a few caveats). Has she done any surfing/skateboarding/wakeboarding etc. before?

I have recommended skiing first due to the learning curves of each. Skiing is easy to learn hard to master and boarding is the opposite (relatively).

Cap'n John said...

Hi, BH. Glad to see you're alive & well.

The Bunny turned 8 last October, and is super adventurous, always willing to try new things.

I've been "skiing" for almost 20 years but truth be told, in those 20 years this was only my third ski trip. The first time was with my brother-in-law, a more experienced skier, who said I didn't need lessons but that he would teach me all I really needed to know (how to turn, and how to stop :P), while the second was a group lesson 5 years ago at Mammoth.

I went with the Beginner's Package/Lesson again because it included equipment rental, and because skiers taking lessons get to cut in line at the chair lift :) Plus after learning at Mammoth what I didn't know, or rather, that what I did know was wrong, I figured I still needed more instruction.

Alex was a fantastic instructor, and more than willing to teach me as much as I was prepared to learn. Either I had forgotten or was not taught at Mammoth about using your feet/toes to turn; as they never taught me hockey stops & parallel turns, maybe it's the latter. But discovering that pressing down with the toes on my outside foot caused me to turn was a "leaps & bounds" moment in advancing my skills. That was the moment I went from someone careering down the side of a mountain with two boards strapped to be my feet to becoming a Skier. I no longer needed to use the entire mountain face to make large, swooping turns which increased both my speed and my chances of wiping out. Now I could just do a little hop into a hockey stop and dump some speed before resuming my run.

So when the Bunny and I rode down the mountain together at the end of the day it was very easy for me to snow plow along behind her, then ski back & forth when she got up a bit of speed, and when she wiped out, I was quickly & easily able to point myself in her direction and "hockey stop" right beside her. Given another day or two of solid practice, I'd probably be more than comfortable enough in my abilities to ski down anything but the craziest of runs.

Bone said...

Cool story. I was gonna say, how far do you have to travel to find a mountain with snow?

Ski lifts always make me think of Dumb & Dumber.

Cap'n John said...

The closest, ski'able (sp?) mountains are at Mountain High Ski Resort, outside of Wrightwood. It's 65 miles away via two freeways and one highway, so if traffic is good it's a little over an hour's drive.