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Pamela MacNaughtan

Instructor: “Wow, you’re really flexible!”

Me: “I don’t normally do the splits!”

Manuela, my instructor was standing a few feet away and sounding impressed. I wasn’t panicked, but my right ankle was bending inside my boot in a way that did not feel natural, and it, along with the snowboard was still moving away from my body.

Me: “I need help.”

Manuela jogged over and moved the snowboard (with my foot still attached) closer to my body so I wasn’t over-extending anymore and I could relax. She then took my hands and attempted to get me to stand back up.

Me: “I can’t stand up while I’m still attached! I’ll knock you over!”

Instructor: “No, no, you’re fine. I’m bracing the board with my foot, just take my hands and stand up.”

I couldn’t do it. I had visions of knocking the poor girl down and possibly falling down the bunny hill, which would not be good. Once my foot was released from the bindings, we started to laugh. I had been standing at the top of the bunny hill all of 5 minutes before I stumbled and did the splits. As it turns out, I would become very accustomed to falling throughout the day.

One of the first things Manuela had me do was face the mountain (with my back to the bunny hill), with the snowboard parallel with the top of the hill, place my right foot into the bindings and then place my left foot half on the board with my toes in the snow. The purpose was to push forward on my toes which would allow the board to slide down the hill. I was then supposed to control the movement by moving back onto my heels when I wanted to stop.

As easy as that may sound, it’s not. At first, I had to battle my fear of going down a snowy hill, on a slippery snowboard, backwards! I gripped Manuela’s hands for dear life and tried to ignore the sassy little 5-year-old skiers flying past me. The idea was for me to go backwards down the hill, except for some reason I went backwards and to the side of the hill towards the magic carpet (the little conveyor belt thingy).

I soon became fairly comfortable with the idea of going down the hill backwards. It didn’t seem nearly as bad as it did in the beginning, and even though my calf muscles were burning, I was moderately proud of myself. That was when things changed. It was time to turn around and face the hill. Instead of my free foot at the front of the board and using my toes, I now had to place my free foot at the back of the board and use my heels.

Facing the hill psyched me out even more than the thought of going down backwards and within minutes I fell. Again! This time I reached into my pocket, pulled out my iPhone and asked Manuela to snap a photo.

Nice, right?

I fell so many times that afternoon that my butt was numb. I actually felt like I had a wedgie, but I didn’t! How the crap does that happen?! After awhile I decided to start striking a pose after each fall – laughing like a couple of school girls.

In the meantime, I was still being shown up by small children (one of which was a cocky little bugger) and feeling very lame. When I finally made it down the bunny hill as if I were an actual snowboarder little cheers could be heard. Yes, small children acknowledged my ability to get down the rest of the hill without falling.

By the time my lesson ended my thighs felt like Jell-O, my calf muscles were on fire, my arse was numb from falling in the cold snow and my face hurt from hours of laughing with my instructor, Manuela. Although I didn’t make it off the bunny hill, I wasn’t all that upset. I had faced a few fears on the mountain, but I wasn’t ready to face my fear of getting off a chairlift without falling flat on my face! That is a fear that can handle leaving for another day.

I don’t have any regrets about taking a snowboarding lesson. There is no way I could strap on a board and barrel down a snowy mountain without having had a lesson. I would have hurt myself and probably a few other people as well.

As I sat in the rentals area, pulling off my snowboard boots and pulling on my Uggs, my body started to react to the hours of instruction and falling. My legs were sore, not to mention my lower back. As I drove back to Banff, all I could think about was the jacuzzi tub waiting for me in my hotel room.

As it turns out, snowboarding is not as easy as it looks, and although I’ve been avoiding learning how to ski or snowboard, I am seriously considering another lesson at Sunshine Village with my instructor Manuela. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll actually get both feet in bindings, make it off the chairlift without collapsing and get down a run without dying!

Disclosure: My lift ticket, rentals & snowboarding lesson were provided by Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort.

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