Sunday, February 22, 2015

Snowboarding 101 :)

Friday, bright and early... It was the moment of exciting truth... I was about to go snowboarding!!

The evening before, Jay (Ski Korea) had picked us up in Alpensia and had equipped us with snowboards, boots, snow jackets, and snow pants. Junn (also of Ski Korea) kindly met Matty and me at Yongpyong Ski Resort's Tower Plaza on Friday and brought us to the snowboarding school where I'd meet my teacher for the day. 

Nervous? Nah. Snowboarding would be FUN!!

Where I met my snowboard teacher.

Okay, everything became different when I finally had to carry my snowboard with me to the edge of the New Yellow slope, where all the beginners were getting oriented. I felt jittery because this was really it. My teacher's patience and confidence made me feel that I could at least not break a bone while learning to snowboard. Day 1, here we go!

Lesson 1: The anatomy of the snowboard. The terminology just had to be right because I had to know where to put my weight when teacher tells me to do so. Heel-side, toe-side, nose, tail, deck. Okay, got it!

Hello, snowboard!

Lesson 2: I'm free... free-fallin! Falling has got to be one of the scariest lessons, yeah? Teacher mentioned that if I were to fall forward, my knee should land on the snow first and my arms should slide onto the snow. Slide; not sudden stop. If I were to fall backwards, on the other hand, I should land on my butt and rock to my back while keeping my hands crossed on my chest. In both cases, my head should not land on the snow and my board should be raised from it.

Lesson 3: Walk like a snowboarder. This has to be one of the world's weirdest norms: my lead foot had to be bound to the board and I had to use my rear foot to propel myself from Point A to Point B. Once moving, I had to put my rear foot on the board. To stop, I had to put my rear foot's heel onto the snow. In theory, it was easy enough but in reality, I gained a few bruises doing this.

Lesson 4: Just do it. Yep, teacher finally sent me to a low part of the New Yellow (beginner) slope to try out my new movements. My first exercise was to scrape the slope using the heel side of my board while facing towards the valley. Scary? Oh, yes. But that wasn't all. Once I learned how to scrape the slope, I had to learn how to scrape it with direction! Did I want to go to the left or to the right? How the heck should I go where I wanted to go?!?!? Teacher decided, after a few hours, that I was ready to learn the next skill: Scraping the slope using my board's toe side and while facing the mountain. So if I had thought that heel-side scraping was scary, this next one was downright terrifying. It was fear of the unknown right there.

On the right is the New Yellow slope.

I survived Day 1. On Day 2, Matty taught me, very patiently, how to do those S-turns by putting weight on the heel side and the toe side of the board in an alternating manner. We were still on the New Yellow slope and I was feeling that he might be feeling quite bored and unchallenged because he'd been snowboarding the Olympic course (black diamonds) the day before. But it looked like he enjoyed teaching and cheering me on because we ended the day with me being able to do a semblance of the turns, falling only once (?!) on my last run for the day. Still, I was on the bunny slopes so I had to level up soon. The next step, the pre-intermediate, had less forgiving slopes; I'd go faster and make more falls before I'd really be in the intermediate level.

Soon, I'd be like the lone snowboarder: confident and not falling. :) I could already do turns... what else could possibly go wrong, right?

Lone snowboarder.
Next day, Day 3. Matty felt confident that I could take on the pre-intermediate Mega Green slope. Just the sight of it got me intimidated. It's higher than the New Yellow slope! What the heck did I get myself into?!? Naturally, I made quite a few tumbles, with Matty checking if I hurt myself if I made a particularly bad spill. Where did all the skills I learned the day before go?!? Eventually, I warmed up and was able to make a few turns with fewer spills so he felt confident that I could play on my own. He left for a more advanced slope while I put on my gear at the top of the Mega Green again.

The Mega Green is on the right side of the lifts.

There was a conversation going on in my head as I went through the routine:
#1: Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.
#2: You're doing it! You're actually doing it!
#3: Shut up; shut up! I'm almost at the bottom of the slope! Last few meters!

Just before my last run, I was walking to the lift when I saw a poster saying that it is usually the last run that leads to an injury and know when to stop. I should have listened to my gut right there. But I naturally didn't. It was still way too early to stop and I didn't feel tired yet. I wanted to slide down that Mega Green slope without falling. Challenge accepted. 

Me on the Mega Green. All good to go! :)
Less than five minutes into my descent, I fell onto my left hand. I heard a crack that made me sick in my stomach because I've heard that cracking sound many years ago... when I broke my left wrist right after I got out of a swimming pool. Anyway, I attempted a few times to stand up on my snowboard to no avail (because I couldn't boost myself up using my hand); which was why I removed my board and walked to the nearest snack bar to assess my hand's condition.

When I took my glove off, I was shocked to see lump the size of a golf ball somewhere between the distal radius and the scaphoid bone. After notifying Matty about my mishap via SMS, I tied my hand onto my phone via my Headware to make an improvised splint. 

Off to the medics. It was game over for the day. If I were cleared to play again the next day, I'd go for it. In the meantime, though, I had to rest the hand. :(

Matty caught up with me when I was walking with my board to the medics. He knew something was wrong because I wasn't on the slope, snowboarding. I just hope it's nothing too serious.