Snowboarding Forum - Snowboard Enthusiast Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've lurked around this forum for quite a while, but I don't post much. However, given all of the foot pain/injury/frustration threads I've been seeing, I thought my story might prove helpful for someone who is considering giving up on this sport. If you're a veteran and you don't have any of those issues, you might find my story familiar anyway.

I started snowboarding at age 27, having never skied in my life before. Prior to my first EVER day snowboarding in 2008, I walked into the now-defunct Princeton Ski Shop in Manhattan. Turned out they were going out of business within days and needed to liquidate their entire inventory for cash. Whereas I had planned on buying a pair of snowboard pants, I walked out with a Burton Royale 162, Cartel bindings, generic snowboard pants, Burton Tribute boots and a Bakoda rolling snowboard bag for $300. To this day it felt like some sort of signal. A higher power speaking directly to me. Yes, my son. You should snowboard.

My first day ever on a mountain was at Mountain Creek in New Jersey during the 08-09 season. If you're familiar with the East Coast, you know that Mountain Creek is pretty much the worst place to go unless you like to ride park and/or would like to try out for Jersey Shore: Winter Edition. I wore wool gloves, no helmet, and a sweatshirt with thermals underneath, along with my new snowboard pants, of course. After venturing out onto the bunny slope (screw the lesson), I went directly back into the ski shop within...oh, I don't know...25 minutes to purchase real gloves.

I then spent the rest of the day on my ass, freezing to death. I hated it. Loathed it. My coccyx bone hated it even more than I did. Sadly, my friend was insistent that because I was a righty, I should right regular. So I did, but it didn't feel right. It just sucked. But my friend was persistent about the sport in general, so I have to thank him for that. Stick with it, he said. It's not fun until after you start to pick it up. Truth be told, if it wasn't for my good fortune at Princeton Ski Shop, I may never have gone back after Day 1. My Burton Royale sat there in my apartment, staring at me. C'mon, it said. What are you? Chicken?

Day 2 wasn't much better. Late in the day, I caught a heel side edge on the bunny slope at Mountain Creek and hit my head on the snow. I was dazed for a good 10, 15 minutes, then had a splitting headache. My day ended early, around 2:00 p.m., and after I went home, I went to see my doc the next day and he diagnosed me with a mild concussion. So far, not so good for my snowboarding career.

After I recovered, I went back for another shot, this time to Hunter. Another of my friends came along, also a beginner in his adulthood, and we commiserated together while trying to figure this thing out. We laughed while watching each other crash and burn, frustrated as 4 year olds flew by us on the slopes, not a care in the world. Don't they have any fear? I wondered. It seemed they didn't. That actually motivated me, a bit, but the falls, oh the falls. They really sucked. Of course the little kids weren't scared. They were saplings falling over and gently hitting the snow. When I fell, it was like an oak in the forest. Timber!

Late in the day at Hunter I caught a toe-side edge on Mossy Brook (STILL trying to ride regular), stuck out my hands to break my fall (exactly as I was told NOT to do) and tore my left triceps muscle from the impact. Holy crap, did that hurt. I edged the rest of the way down the mountain, refusing any medical attention and royally pissed off. So endeth Season 1. The other beginner friend? He hit his tail bone so hard that he had to sit sideways in the car on the ride home. He never went snowboarding again.

The next season, 2009-2010, wasn't much better. I started by getting myself new snowboard boots. The Burton Tributes were sh*t, didn't fit me right, and never stayed tight. My feet were working way too hard to do simple things. I picked up a pair of Salomans for $250, the most comfortable ones they had, designed for guys with wide feet like me, and my feet were immediately at home. I still wear them to this day.

Nevertheless, parts of the 2009-2010 season continued to suck for me. I was out on the snow probably 5 or 10 times but most of it was spent sitting down, buckling up, standing up, edging down the slope very carefully and then, when I got to a flat area, I wouldn't have enough speed to make it. So I'd have to unbuckle, skate , sit down again, buckle up, etc. Over and over again. I stubbornly refused to take a lesson. I was a fool! However, I made one smart decision: I switched my stance! It made a world of difference.

This was supposed to be fun, I knew that. I saw other people having fun. I saw people doing jumps, hooting and hollering, and high-fiving their friends when they got down to the bottom while I stood on wobbly legs at the chair lift, my feet burning. Bastards, I thought. I hate them...but I want to be like them. So I kept at it.

I finished that season able to do pretty much all of the basics EXCEPT link my turns together. The elusive carving experience was just beyond my reach. But over the summer, I started thinking about it. I started having snowboarding dreams. I started imagining myself carving. Yes, I thought. It shall be mine.

In 2010-2011, the first thing I did was go to Belleayre and take a half-day private lesson. After watching me on the bunny slope for a bit, my instructor took me up to some of the longer greens and had me practice a specific drill. She wanted me to get low in my heel side turns, weight my front foot coming out of the turns, go straight, and then "think of my toes like fingers on a piano." That, she said, was how to initiate the toe-side turn coming out of the heel side turn.

She also showed me how to come out of a toe-side turn (look over your shoulder down the mountain, open up your down slope shoulder, etc.) and just like that, it clicked. I had the epiphany moment. I could finally make a run from top to bottom without having to stop, unbuckle, skate, rebuckle and go. I was doing it!

My last run of that season was at Windham. I was having a great, great day. Things just seemed to be working, conditions were great. I did a black diamond trail for the first time and handled myself much better than I expected to. OK, I thought. It's time to try the park.

At this point I should probably point out that I do a lot of stupid things. I'm not sure if it's because I'm stubborn or prideful, or whatever, but I'm a man and some men just prefer to figure stuff out on their own...until they can't take it anymore and ask someone for help. Kinda like asking for directions when we're lost. We're just big, dumb animals sometimes, but that's part of why women like us, isn't it?

So, just like a big, dumb animal, I rode into the park, directly for a kicker with a rail, and flew off the kicker like a bat out of hell. I completely missed the rail (which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing) and launched myself what felt like 8-10 feet in the air. I landed on my side with my arm tucked in, but instead of breaking my wrist, I separated my shoulder. So endeth season 3 and my career in the park.

Last season, 2011-2012, never happened for me because I tore my ACL sparring kickboxing. But man, I really missed it.

At the beginning of this season, my wife and I went to Vancouver. The snowboard itch had been itching for a year at that point and we wanted a big experience. But my feet. The pain just wouldn't stop. Turns out the dudes who tuned up my board hadn't set the bindings up correctly afterward (I neglected to look). So I fixed that and headed for Whistler.

I can't really articulate how beautiful Whistler is. It's like snowboarding into a painting. But I wasn't used to how long the runs would be. So? You guessed it. More burning feet. More resting to let the lactic acid subside. I loved snowboarding at this point, but my damn feet were still sapping some of my enjoyment. Did I have weak feet? Are my boots too small? Are my bindings not set up right? Is it my board? Does everyone deal with this and I'm just a big wuss? It drove me nuts.

I went everywhere this season. Vancouver, Vermont, Montreal. It was all great. About a month ago, I noticed that my 2008 Burton Cartels were coming apart. So I opted for a new package. 2013 Burton Custom X 160 Full Camber and Burton Cartel EST. Yesterday was my first ever day on the mountain with my new set up.

How can I articulate how different it feels? Well, let's put it this way. I was a surgeon operating with a spoon. Now I have a scalpel. I didn't feel foot pain or fatigue once. The edge of my new board can hold anything. This board FLIES. I can go 30, 40 mph and feel 100% in control. I have finally arrived. I can snowboard and carve like a speed demon and I'm never once uncomfortable or scared. The sport has gone from 1% fun and 99% pain to 100% fun. Can you believe it?

If you've made it this far, I do appreciate you reading. But if you're like I was, early in your boarding career and frustrated with injuries or pain or ineffectual boarding, all I can tell you is this: don't. give. up.

Power through the obstacles. Upgrade your gear. Take a lesson. Invest the amount of time and money in this sport commensurate with the the enjoyment you hope to get from it. Put in the work and you will reap the rewards. I did and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

-The Jake
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
523 Posts
Hi, my name is Steve and I too am an addict... :yahoo:


Welcome to the fraternity Jake.

I tell everyone that asks if Snowboarding is hard, NO. It is not hard, once it clicks. It is very dificult to learn to be so damned easy once you sort it out.

Everyone I have introduced to our sport took lessons and figured it out the first day.

I recommend lessons to everyone. Lessons and butt pads, and knee pads...of course a helmet. The less each fall hurts , the more keen they are to get up and go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
121 Posts
:eusa_clap: Good to know your story and progression and makes me feel better that I'm not the only one going through :dizzy::wacko::RantExplode::blink::dizzy::angry: this fist season. I'm having separation anxiety just watching and thinking that gear is about to go inside a dark closet for months.

I cant't wait for next season for more and hopefully :giggle::yahoo:.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Joe, you'll get it

And you've already done one of the most important things you can do at the end of a season: plant the seed of desire for next season. If you're looking forward to something for 8 months, or whatever, a couple of crappy days on the hill is not going to stop you.

Me, I'm trying to finagle ways to get a couple more trips in THIS season. That's what happens when you become a full-on addict, as noted above.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,200 Posts
You seem to have a knack for sustaining injuries where they could have been easily avoided. So here's an unsolicited advice: once/if you graduate to riding backcountry do it right and get yourself educated and prepared before you go. Bad rail drop is one thing, an avalanche is something else entirely. Progress smartly and mitigate your risks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Noreaster, no argument there, I've definitely been hurt where it wasn't necessary. The separated shoulder could've easily been avoided if I'd asked someone about park riding or took a park riding lesson first.

Suffice to say, I've learned the lesson and I've learned it the hard way. If I do progress from here, it'll be responsibly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
106 Posts
Yes, my son. You should snowboard.
haha, this is awesome.

I'm trying to get comfortable with turning with some speed (which I'm sure is really slow anyway) and make the switch to link a turn. That commitment isn't there so I never begin to execute the link. I think I need more practice (balls?) just trying to turn.

It's so much work. I want to get there already LOL. Grrrrr!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Firestarter, that's a common hang-up for a lot of people who are learning. First you learn how to edge, then you learn how to stop, then you learn how to turn, and then you learn how to turn while maintaining speed. Lemme guess, all your turns feel like you're slowing down too much?

Perfectly normal. Honestly, it's mostly mental. You know how to do it physically, but your mind won't let you do it without worrying about what's going to happen if you fall going that speed. And the only way to get over that is to practice going fast, getting just a TINY bit out of control, and then regaining control.

So that's what I would suggest for you: go a little bit faster than you're comfortable with, and then work on re-gaining that control from the higher speed. Once you do that, it'll be easier to try other things at that speed, such as linking turns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,298 Posts
a tale both sad and happy...glad you got to the point of triumph, but so much of the pain could have been avoided as has been said

if there is a moral to the story, imo, it should be that some initial lessons are key to having fun, and much faster progression to the fun part
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
106 Posts
Firestarter, that's a common hang-up for a lot of people who are learning. First you learn how to edge, then you learn how to stop, then you learn how to turn, and then you learn how to turn while maintaining speed. Lemme guess, all your turns feel like you're slowing down too much?
Yeah! I feel it the most when I go heelside to the right. Since I'm 85% sure that I'm goofy, heelside goofy is when I'm in the most control (which means in my case I'm going to the right). When I go across the fall line this way I can definitely FEEL that I'm keeping myself from going down the fall line, which is cool because I'm using the edge, I'm MAINTAINING control, but I don't want to let it go in order to point down and then go toeside. I can actually get myself to go the fastest when I'm heelside goofy, the only problem is that when I get to the edge of the trail I have to hit the breaks (i.e. do a falling leaf). When I do try a turn, I have to slow down soooo much that I'm practically stopped.

Sigh.

I know I'll get there, it's why I keep going back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Perfectly normal. Basically what you're doing is dumping speed enough so that you feel comfortable (again, mental) transitioning to the toe side.

Try what that one instructor suggested to me: get lower in your heel side turn (knees bent, but back straight) and when you want to come out of the turn, shift your weight downhill onto your front foot and consciously push your front foot down like you're pressing on the gas pedal. That should flatten the the board out and direct it back down the fall line. From there, initiating the toe side turn is much easier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
106 Posts
Perfectly normal. Basically what you're doing is dumping speed enough so that you feel comfortable (again, mental) transitioning to the toe side.

Try what that one instructor suggested to me: get lower in your heel side turn (knees bent, but back straight) and when you want to come out of the turn, shift your weight downhill onto your front foot and consciously push your front foot down like you're pressing on the gas pedal. That should flatten the the board out and direct it back down the fall line. From there, initiating the toe side turn is much easier.
Will definitely try that next time.

Can't wait to go back out there before all the snow melts!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
121 Posts
From a newbe to another that might be of help.

What i did this season that worked for me on toeside turning was to just go for it. I even said to myself "The hell with it!" and it all just clicked and i could recreate it everytime after that.

This was my method:

1. In my mind I try to be a step ahead and anticipate with a mental image of what my body position should be and when I'm actually there then I proceed to the next mental image and this worked out well. When I think what's going on in the moment it would make me chicken out and loose control because I react to what is happening and lose concentration on what's suposed to be done next.

2. With more weight on the leading foot, from heel side going toe side I look ahead to the direction I want to go before i even move towards that direction and everything just followed. I got my mind off having a plan B which was to anticipate saving myself from falling if it fails because 100% of the time it will make me fail. I always anticipate a successfull completion and no other plan B distraction.

3. Pelvic thrust entering toe side. I made this my natural instinc and not bending at the waist which was a plan B. Also having partial or peripheral vision down the hill going toeside was a plan B.

I just put all my attention to where I should be next until I get there and when I'm there my mind was already in the next step.

This method was also a giant help to me to learn carving when I have my body angled the opposite direction down the hill going into a turn and just trust and anticipate that my own momentum catches me at the end of the transition and slingshot me to the next turn. My progression was a lot faster after this and I can now ride and carve switch on steep blue runs and I only started this January, I am so stoked. I hope this helps you too like it did for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
I'll add my story of learning to snowboard.
[TLDR: first 15 days sucked; insane progress in days 16-17.]


From the start, I made my goal to work on technique first, steeps second. I'd rather look slow but good than fast and ugly.

Day 1-4: I have started this season at the start of February. I began immediately with a private lesson on the bunny hill. At the end of the day I was able to make J-turns on both edges. Although my toe side was way better; heel side took me many more days to get comfortable on.

On the second day I took another private lesson. During which I have improved the turns but ended up spraining my wrist at the end of the practice on my own. After two weeks, I was able to return but kept sucking on the bunny hill but continued to work on turns and traversing there.

Day 5: the first day I actually had 100% fun snowboarding because I was able to easily traverse and link turns on the bunny hill. No greens thus far!

Day 6-14: (3rd private lesson, finally made it to the greens) I am a very cautious snowboarder so I spent the next 8 days on the greens working on my technique. I had to re-learn and re-adjust how to perform the turns and traverse on the greens. The slightest steep or board chatter would throw me off. It wasn't until day 12 that I began to occasionally try a short blue run but it was a total hell. I felt no control on a blue steep although I rarely fell and didn't have any bad spills.

Day 15: I collected the will power and made it down a real blue run; side slipped any steeper parts, did great on the rest. Overall, it was awesome, almost no falls. The few falls were controlled and comfortable as much as falls can be.

Day 16: It was the second day of blue runs, way way WAY better and even tried a harder blue run which had a small black steep on it (that I only learned later from the instructor).

Day 17: I took my 4th private lesson. The instructor took one look at me on the blue run and took me to the black runs and moguls and even one powder 'chute. All scary at first but after one run it all became so much easier mentally.


Overall, within 2 month period I have spent 17 days (30 total hours, 6 of which were private lessons) to get from the bunny hill to looking forward to more diamond runs.

:D
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top