The Night I Failed at Snowboarding: A True Account

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A little Throwback Thursday to my first snowboarding experience three years ago. 

For almost four years now, I’ve been living a lie. For four years, I’ve been driving around in a car with a plate tacked on the back proclaiming, “Utah! The Greatest Snow On Earth!” as if I’m an expert on the slopes of Utah. As if I, like dozens of the people I went to high school with, leave my mediocre winter weekdays to spend my Saturdays skiing or snowboarding and come back with a smug grin and a bad sunburn and proclaim, “Guess what, guys? I went to the Beav again.”

I figured, with the Stake Ski night upcoming and as part of my moral obligation, that I would do my darndest to go and make it so that one day, when I cross the path of a random stranger from some other state, like Nebraska, and he asks me, “Is it really the ‘Greatest Snow On Earth’,” I can look off into the distance, close my eyes with a soft smile, and say, with a nostalgic note, “Yes sir. I do believe it is.”

So I signed up, dressed up, and made my way through the canyon. Beaver’s beautiful at night, I’ll give it that. All lit up like a baseball diamond in the summer. Except no baseball and no summer. Just snow. Ice, actually.

You should have seen me. I clunked around in my sister’s boots with my brother’s borrowed snowboard, plastered in stickers that screamed “X-Treme!” and “XBALM” and “Skiing makes me board!” Haha. Ha. Another fiendish facade similar to my “Greatest Snow On Earth” plate.

Here’s the low down. If I had had a snowboarding/skiing resume before last night, it would have said one thing: Experience snowboarding down a small hill into the river bottoms. So basically I suck.

I went down the tiny little hill next to the ticket office at Beaver and promptly fell on my palms, a move that would become my signature move the rest of the night.

Things went downhill from there. I went around a corner to go down to the lift and suddenly it was as if I was on the freeway. I accidentally cut straight across the long slope where tons of people were skiing/boarding. I don’t know how I didn’t kill someone. I was going so fast that I almost had fun. Then I realized that the lift was getting closer and closer, and I didn’t know how to brake. Like, at all. The sign SLOW pushed me into panic mode. DEATH, it read. THE END! it screamed.

I did the only thing I knew how to do to save innocent bystanders. I squirmed like a fish and wiggled hard enough that my board flew off of the snow and I flipped head over heels about five times, sacrificing my body for the good of others. I feel that I saved lives last night. Actually, I feel like a punk for not learning how to brake before doing the serious stuff. Aye yigh yigh.

From that point on, I stuck to the tiny little slope on the other side. And I fell again and again and again and again. I was taught how to brake, which didn’t ever help me, really. Then the dreaded invitation came.

Kyle, a boy in my ward, said, “Ari! Come on a slope with me!”

I was like a protesting child. “I don’t want to! No! You can’t make me! No!”

Ten minutes later, I was sitting on a lift bench and shaking so hard that I could have slipped off and died. I’ll admit it. In the darkness, I was bawling. I was TERRIFIED.

I am truly terrified of only a few things in this world, namely karaoke, driving in the snow, and giant sea creatures that swim in the shadow of darkness so that they are just a dark blob in deep water swimming as fast as they can toward you to eat you. Snowboarding fear was a new thing.

I didn’t want to go down that stupid slope. I was perfectly happy with saying that I had wasted $10 to go down a slight incline, but nooooo. I had to cave. With the grace of a crippled stork, I fell flat on my face while getting off the lift. I have no balance whatsoever. Then a mob of skiers shot past me and left me feeling like an idiot. I mean, some of these guys had topographic maps for ski suits and will probably end up with five year-old ski prodigies for children. They were legit.

At first, I sat there on the hill shaking, staring at the dark, shadowy border ledge that was mere feet away from me. I am convinced that it dropped to nowhere, a deep, dark, black pit of doom and despair. And I was going to go right off of it and die.

Finally I got up and went down the hill. Sorta. I ended up faceplanting. Badly. So badly that if snow hadn’t been in every opening of my face, I would have screamed. I sat there and I cried.

I was stuck on the top of a slope with the wind stinging my red face, the lights of the lodge like some far off beacon I would never make it to. I couldn’t go back. I had to go down. It was horrifying. Yes, I’m a coward, but at that moment, I realized, “You know what Ari? You don’t have to like everything you try, nor do you have to be good at everything you try. So stop pretending.” Just like that, I admitted what I was feeling the whole night: I hate snowboarding. With a passion.

Beaver mountain used to be this mystical place where all of the cool kids got to go after being pulled out of school. It used to be this goal that I aimed for as a child. If I can just get to Beaver, I can like winter.

Alas, winter and I are still on bad terms, maybe even worse terms.

I ended up improvising. I cut across the slope on foot, then I sat down and slid down on my snow pants, which made me laugh without crying for the first time that night. Of course, I got my pants tangled and it felt weird, but it was super fun.

After meeting up with Kyle at the next hill, I sat there, asking myself, “Do I really want to finish this out on my board or not?” I improvised again. Snowboards make excellent sleds!

I walked away last night feeling bruised, battered, but not broken! I finally did it. I got to Beaver. I will never be a Shaun White because I stink. Frankly, I don’t ever want to be a Shaun White. And I will never ride something down a snowy hill with the grace of some of my fellow stake members. I’d rather stick to hiking and rock climbing. Mountains are ten times less intimidating without snow on them.

But I can cross off number 75 on my Bucket List. Success.

The Mystery at the Ski Jump? Bah. So lame. 

Maybe I’ll try skiing next time. It always sounded so glamorous in all of those Nancy Drew novels. “Scandal at the Slopes” or “Murder on the Mountain.” Something with good alliteration.

I learned that just because you have two feet on the same piece of material doesn’t mean you are more safe.

Other lessons learned: 
-Learning how to stop is more important than learning how to go
-Falling is inevitable, so deal with it
-If you’re on a slope, you either buck up and get down it on your board or you improvise
-A true measure of success can be felt through trying
-You don’t have to like everything. You’re allowed to hate a few things.
-Beaver is no longer what defines “having a good time” in winter for me, which is quite liberating.
-My siblings who can snowboard are like deities. How?

Maybe one day I’ll run into that Nebraska man and he’ll ask me, “Is it really the ‘Greatest Snow On Earth’?” And I’ll say, with my eyes toward the skies, a dramatic pause in my voice, “I went snowboarding. Once.” Then I’ll walk away feeling fulfilled.

Update from 2015 Ari: 

Yeah…snowboarding. I’m trying it again. And I definitely do not hate it. Haha.
New Lesson Learned: 
Stop making excuses, whiner. You can do whatever. 

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2 comments

  1. Mystery at the Ski Slope would be about me and my one time skiing experience where I nearly died falling off the lift at the top, taking the wrong route or the girl I ran over nearly died. Either one would be applicable.

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