OK, so according to Ruth’s comment on yesterday’s post my use of the phrase “Unfortunately it’s due to dump tomorrow” is grounds for being sectioned….so I suppose this brings me nicely on to thoughts about whether snowboarding is a sport, hobby or winter holiday, and more importantly who’s right, her or me?
Taking the second point first, I’d have to say we’re both right, and not just because I don’t want to piss Ruth off and have her invoke the Snow God’s causing them to dump over Laax for the next 10 days but also because it all depends on your perspective and what you personally want to get out of a day on a snowboard. I’m sure Ruth won’t mind me saying that she’s not a “park monkey” no, she’s a total powder hound. She very bravely upped sticks from the UK and moved to Vancouver a couple of years ago and now rides the weekends at Whistler as much as she’s able. She’s bought a split snowboard that basically allows her to use it as skis (with skins on the bottom) to walk UP mountains, she then turns it back in to a snowboard to ride down again. So for her, dumps are important, I mean seriously no one in their right mind is going to do all of that just to ride a hard packed piste, it’s all about the powder, and I’m sure she can do a much better job than I of explaining why she does it (or you could read some of her blog posts). For me on the other hand it’s all about the park, well certainly it is on this holiday, especially after our trip to Le Grand Bornand in January. I’d been hoping that I’d be able to ride the park with the kids on the Anarski Camp and get some practice in for next week’s Brits, unfortunately we had 1 day of decent weather out of 7, all the rest were snowy. While we had lots of fun and I improved my general riding skills it meant that I didn’t hit any decent sized kickers and so was basically the same standard as I was after riding in the UK. So to counter that (and the fact that I haven’t ridden since that trip) I’d arranged lessons for this week to tackle kickers and build on my skills, so for me good weather is important. No instructor in their right mind is going to take a pupil out in heavy snow and poor visibility and get them to huck off a kicker when they can’t see the run in or run out (and if it was anything like today, get blown off course in mid-air). No, for what I had planned this week, at the very least you need a nicely shaped park, low winds and if you’re lucky some sun to soften the landings a bit.
Which I suppose brings me on to how people view snowboarding, for me it’s very much a sport, and while I perhaps don’t take it as seriously as I used to take my gymnastics and figure skating as a kid, I definitely see it as a competitive environment that I want to succeed in to the best of my ability. Part of this has been my aborted attempts to get fit by running and also a change in diet to lose a bit of weight to avoid putting my joints under excessive pressure. Most of all though it’s been finally accepting that getting some lessons in freestyle would be beneficial, and then finding somewhere where I was confident of the level of coaching to feel that I would get a decent return of improvement in comparison to my investment in the lessons….I can certainly say that based on the two lessons I’ve had so far I’ve found that in Laax. Snowboarding to me is a sport, something to learn and progress at and then use those skills to compete against others. In addition to that I compete against me, each time I do a competition I have something that I want to achieve, be it a new trick or even simply not falling for my entire slopestyle run (this year’s plan for the Brits slopestyle!) so powder is a frustration, it’s effectively scuppering my plans for improvement and ruining my chances of staying upright in the single run I have in the slopestyle competition.
That’s not to say that I didn’t have fun today riding in the powder, we shredded from 1st lift (well actually 2nd because the restaurant staff had to go up ahead of us), the visibility was pants but we had a laugh. My lessons were cancelled but The BoyfÂ and I rode around with the kids that are out here for the Brits too. Much fun and many slams were had by all, I cart wheeled my way down the slope after catching my nose when I popped a lip on the edge of the piste ending up with snow everywhere, including filling my goggles.
Anyway, it’s still snowing, I won’t moan but inside I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed that tomorrow loks like another day without lessons and will be a day shredding powder instead. I’m not sure if that’s the birthday present I wanted but I’ll try and have fun for everyone stuck in an office wishing they were somewhere snowy instead!