Flagstaff: Five Thousand Falls and Counting

· by wendy · arizona

I despise skiing. Tried it once. Hated it. I don’t HATE too many things (olives, clutter, the suburbs), so you know I mean it. My legs kept going in separate directions requiring me to pull my knees inward to correct the situation. Not something that pleases a frequent knee cap popper-outer. It has a mind of it’s own, that one. I once hurt it dancing in the locker room just minutes before I was to compete at the Pac-10 Championships. It’s not to be trusted. I certainly don’t trust it on the slopes, so I swore I’d never ski again. But, I would try snowboarding. I figured at least your legs are in one place.

While we were in Phoenix it rained pretty hard. When there’s rain in Phoenix, there’s snow in Flagstaff. Off we headed to try our hand (legs) at snowboarding. Despite the snow on the ground, the day we ventured up to the Arizona Snowbowl, it was a warm 60 degrees. This is my type of winter! We signed up for boarding lessons and gave it a shot. I was nervous. Was my theory that having my legs strapped in on a snowboard be better off for my knees than skis? Was I going to be able to stand up for 5 seconds? Was I going to want to quit after one pass down the kiddy slope?

Yes, to all of the above.

Typically, I’m a good student. I can follow directions pretty well. I assume that’s from 16 years of coaches “barking” orders at me for 30+ hours a week. I also know how it is to be an instructor. Trying to get the students to believe you, trust you and follow directions. All of this expertise went out the window on my first attempt on the snowboard. I couldn’t believe it was coming out of my mouth when it did. Upon arriving at the bottom of the teeny tiny bunny slope, I proclaimed, “I HATE THIS!”, meaning for only Dusty to hear my gripe, but loud enough for my instructor to take notice. I was embarrassed. How could I be such a brat after only 5 minutes of effort (no comments from the peanut gallery!).

My sudden embarrassment shifted my attitude and I put all efforts into changing my outlook. I got a little better, but not without at least 5,000 falls onto my knees or butt. Falling I’m used to, though. Us gymnasts have fallen on our backs, butts, faces, knees and heads more than we can count. Probably because of all of the head landings.

After our lesson was over, we were exhausted from all of the falling, but we still wanted to challenge ourselves a bit more. Our instructor assured us that we probably would not kill ourselves attempting to go down a real slope. Mind you, it’s the kiddy slope, but you still have to access it by lift. Unlike the practice hill we had been instructed on. Up we went.

I’m proud to declare that I only fell approximately 25 times on the slope! Trust me this is an achievement. Toward the end, we were both able to put some moves together…falling less and less as we reached the bottom. It was an accomplishment. No knees were ripped off or broken in the making of this adventure. We will snowboard again!

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