7 Uncanny Parallels of Snowboarding and Life

Above photo: Resting on the slopes of Northstar.

As the 2018 season of snow quickly (and sadly!) comes to an end, I’ve learned so much about myself and the desire to improve both as a snowboarder and as a human.

It’s hard to believe, but I spent over 15 days on the mountain since the season started, including an unforgettable trip to Whistler, Canada.

The previous season was mostly filled with fear, anxiety, and nervous excitement because basically, I sucked, but this season was focused on improving my technique — turns, speed, and control.

As I pushed myself to get better this season, I’ve noticed some uncanny parallels between learning how to improve my shredding skills and… life.

1. Fear not

My biggest fear all season was catching an edge and falling back on my head. It happened so many times, the sudden force of being swept backward was a recurring mental flashback.

If I’m afraid of the steep side of the mountain or slipping on ice, I don’t improve.

I started counting to turn, 1-2-3-turn, no matter how steep or icy the mountain was. (I did my first black diamonds in March and April!)

Once I learned to slowly release that fear, the possibility for improvement was limitless.

2. Falling is a part of the process

My nickname for season one should’ve been #QueenofFalling. Some falls were funny, some smooshed lots of snow into my face (and nose), many were painful, a few gave me whiplash, and some were just dumb.

I fell 1,000 different ways coming off the chairlifts too, including the one time my glove strap accidentally got stuck on the chair and caused my body to go in two different directions (my board and legs went sliding down while my arm stayed stuck to the chairlift). Later, I noticed a warning sign next to the lifts that indicate you shouldn’t have any loose straps hanging from you. The sign was accompanied by a stick figure drawing of exactly what happened to me.

I fell so much I’ve become an expert at getting back up.

3. Know when to give up small battles so you can win the war

My happy place, Northstar. This a view of the resort’s park. I want to attempt the park in season three.

In March when it dumped, I fell in some crazy deep snow and struggled to get up for what seemed like forever, when I could’ve just unstrapped my board. As my snowboarding pal Alex put it, wrestling with a ghost for 10 minutes to get out of deep snow will only make you tired for the rest of the day.

So now, whenever I think my energy will be zapped unnecessarily, I take the easiest route (which is usually unstrapping and walking) to get unstuck or to the next hill.

Spring snowboarding is so fun. People go all out in their funky costumes.

4. It’s all mental

The first few times I strapped on to my board, I kept thinking I’ll never get better. This is so hard. Eventually, I stopped the negative thinking and shut that voice in my head that told me I couldn’t do it.

I replaced it with reasons why I could do it.

When I started telling myself that I was getting better, I felt more courageous and took more risks.

BIG win — this last time I boarded at Northstar, I didn’t fall once while exiting the chairlifts. Unbelievable!

5. Who cares what other people think

Me n’ Karen soak up Northstar views.

All embarrassment goes out the door when you’re learning to board.

The first time I got on a board I slid down the greens with my butt sticking out and arms raised in front of me.

Day one, Dec. 26, 2016 at Heavenly. Praise Him.

I looked like I was sliding down the mountain, praising Jesus.

6. Saying yes is so much better than saying no

There are two buses that serve the Bay Area to Tahoe. Pretty awesome.

Recently, I was supposed to take the ski bus to Northstar, but before it even reached San Francisco to pick up passengers, it unexpectedly broke down and the trip was canceled. Noooo, my heart sank.

The cancelation prompted a fellow snowboarder to ask me and another girl if we wanted to drive up with him in his car. He said he didn’t want to make the roundtrip drive alone.

There were a million reasons to say no — creepy factor being the no. 1 reason, but I already knew what the outcome of no would mean. It meant calling an Uber and taking my sorry ass home. Pretty lame considering I got up at 4 am to get to SF by 5:30 am with all my gear.

It was still early enough to drive up and ride all day, so while the girl hesitated, I lit up with a “Hell yes, let’s do it!”

Through a mutual love of boarding, the three of us started the day as strangers but ended it as friends.

So the three of us spent the entire day together on the mountain — riding, taking pictures, eating, drinking and talking about anything and everything in the most spontaneous, splendidly random, serendipitous day of my life!

7. Trying to keep up will only hurt you

I always felt a bit intimidated by other people on the mountain, including my own snowboarding crew. Everyone was so much better than me. I often wondered how I’d ever keep up, and in many failed attempts to keep up, I’d lose control and crash.

I now go at my own pace and if my crew wants to wait, they can. Otherwise, we meet at the bottom.

A gorgeous sunset from Berkeley, on the ride home from Northstar.

So, I wrap up this season filled with complete satisfaction for how much I’ve improved, grateful for all the times I was able to take off and board on a whim, and a deep sense of joy that only exists when you truly enjoy doing something this much.


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