in Love With Snowboarding
One Tumble at a Time
By Eunnie Park - Staff writer The
Record, Bergen County, NJIt's my third day of snowboarding, and my
body is rebelling.
Knees are black and blue, back and shoulders
are throbbing, left arm is limp and swollen with a bad sprain.
And I couldn't be happier.
Standing on top of the Sugar Slope at
Vernon's Mountain Creek Resort, I observe the snowy hills below
sprinkled with fallen skiers and snowboarders. Soon I will be among them,
blissfully riding and tumbling down the slope.
Today my goal is to spend more time riding
than tumbling. I'm repeatedly told that snowboarding has a shorter learning
curve than skiing; one can expect to be a competent rider after just two or
A slow learner, I still find myself on my
seat far more than on my feet, but I'm having too much fun to feel
With one foot loose and the other attached
to the board, I "skate" toward Lee Guarino, my 22-year-old instructor.
"What do you think?" he asks, gesturing
towards the descent.
"I think I'm ready," I say, and turn to
flash him a big smile of confidence. Ow. There goes something in my neck,
It's no matter. I've got slopes to ride,
snow to board, and no aching body will get in the way. I fasten my loose foot
into the bindings, and we're set to go.
Guarino gives directions, and I follow. Eyes
on the destination, knees slightly bent, turn and lift heels or toes to
decrease speed. Dodge other riders, keep a safe distance from the lighting
posts, and when in doubt, fall.
I'm in doubt about everything speed,
direction, snowboarding in general so I fall a lot. On my face. On my
back. On my back followed by a somersault onto my face. I fall hard, I fall
harder, and sometimes I fall so hard that I see stars.
Guarino rushes to my side, finds me alive
and relatively well, and we try again. He draws little diagrams in the snow and
"Take all that nervous energy, and channel
it through your feet," he says.
OK, I nod, and I'm ready to go for the
umpteenth time. If nothing else, snowboarding is a great exercise of
perseverance. No matter how many times I fall, I have to shake off the snow and
And for a brief moment, perseverance pays
off. After sliding aimlessly for a minute, I somehow gain control. When I move,
the board moves with me. I glide with ease and confidence, hearing the soft
crackle of the snow beneath my board and the quiet breeze brushing past my
Toward the bottom of the slope, I turn, lift
my heels, and dig in with the board's toe edge to stop, and by some
miracle I'm still on my feet.
There. That felt like snowboarding.
Guarino rushes to my side, this time to slap
"That was awesome! That was awesome!" he
"It was," is all I manage before slipping
backward, sideways, and landing on my back.
- Look for beginner packages that include
lift pass, equipment rental, and lesson. Prices range from $99 for three days
to $40 to $70 for each day, depending on level and day of the week.
- Private and group lessons are available.
Private instruction ranges between $50 and $70 per hour; groups are typically
$20 to $30. Some resorts offer discounts if you book several lessons in
advance. Call ahead to make reservations, especially for private lessons.
- Renting equipment (snowboard and boots)
costs $20 to $30 and can be done at the mountain.
- Snowboarders and skiers use the same
lift tickets. Cost ranges from $20 to $60, depending on age, day of week, and
hours of use.
- People with back, neck, knee, wrist, or
any other physical problems should consult a physician before starting.
- Build strength and endurance by working
out leg and abdominal muscles.
- Work on balance and eye-foot
coordination with activities like rock hopping.
- Safety is first. All beginners should
start with lessons, then return often for more instruction as they advance.
WHAT TO WEAR
- Breathable, waterproof clothes. (Dress
- Hat and waterproof gloves.
- Tinted ski goggles or sunglasses.
- Do not layer socks. Wear one warm pair
that comes up to the shins.
- Ski/snowboarding helmet recommended;
also consider other protective gear like wrist guards and body pads.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (TO RENT A
- Height, weight, and boot size.
- Stance: "regular" if you ride left foot
forward, "goofy" if you ride right foot forward. (Hint: The forward foot is the
one you kick a ball with.)
- www.snowboarding.com: Inspiring photos,
videos, guide to getting started, information on resorts and summer camps,
almost everything you need to know about the sport.
- www.snowboarding2.com: Another
comprehensive site. Also includes an abridged dictionary of snowboarding terms,
a satellite weather forecast, and chat page.
This dictionary of snowboarding lingo enables you to sound like a rider
even if you can't snowboard. While you're there, click on "Beginner Snowboard
Tips" for some good advice on getting started.
Source: Bob McGraw, director of snow
sports at Mountain Creek.