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If you’ve ever learnt to ski or snowboard, or even been friends with someone who does either, you’ll have picked up on the bitter rivalry between the two snowsports lovers.
On the one hand there’s us skiers, the ones with two sticks and two planks attached to our feet. We have that funny “my feet are in so much pain and I can only walk with my knees bent” walk. We’re the ones desperate to get our boots off at the end of the day, we make an “ooohh” sound; similar to the one you might make when lowering yourself into a hot bath as we open up our boots and let our feet breathe.
On the other hand, there’s the snowboarders, or “boarders”. Low slung, baggy trousers, no awkward poles and comfortable, easy to walk in boots. They tend to exude “cool”. Not like us skiers trying to carry all sorts of equipment. No, they simply have a board. And they can walk properly.
You’ll have heard names thrown back and forth between the two rivals. Seen skiers cuss as snowboarders cut them up and then laugh as they zoom past another boarder stuck on the flats.
Snowboarders get to laugh at that walk.
People tend to learn one snow sport, form an allegiance with that one, and stick to it on all future holidays.
That’s not always the case though. In fact, a skier myself, I’ve previously made the decision (against the best wishes of friends and family I might add) to turn towards the dark side and shift my allegiances from skier to snowboarder.
It wasn’t the first time I’d done so.
While living in France I gave snowboarding a chance. I felt it deserved at least one chance – what if I was meant to be a snowboarder?!
I became a fan of snowboarding the moment I slipped my foot in to the comfy boots. I didn’t have to battle with awkward buckles and trap my feet into boots. I simply had to do up some laces. In these boots the thirty minute walk from my French apartment to the bus station was a dream.
I became less of a fan when I tried to stand up on the board and failed. Too much effort meant landing on my face. Not enough meant never standing up. A bit like my attempt at kite surfing…
After a day of falling I awoke to discover every inch of my body, every muscles, ached. I resigned to the fact that maybe snowboarding just wasn’t for me. Maybe, I should stick to skiing. Walking weirdly didn’t matter – at least I could go down the slopes without problem.
That was until recently, when I visited The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead for a spot of indoor skiing and snowboarding.
I’ve written more about skiing in the UK previously and The Snow Centre is a fantastic place to learn, hold parties or just spend a Saturday morning.
On my visit, I went back to the dark side and picked up a snowboard again.
Remembering how things turned out the last time, I was slightly apprehensive about strapping my feet into a board and facing the indoor slopes.
Fortunately, my teacher from The Snow Centre was particularly good. He taught us how to stop (something that lacked the last time), and helped to explain the dynamics of the board. We practice our heel edge and our toe edge, how to stand up and how to make yourself slow down; all in one hour!
I (almost) felt like a natural by the end. I doubt I looked like one though! And, although I hate to say it; I did feel pretty cool!
The patience and easy to follow steps of The Snow Centre’s staff, have even got me wanting to board on my next ski trip, something I didn’t think I’d ever say before. And, whilst I’m not turning completely to the darkside per say. I’d love to be able to both ski and snowboard.
Surely that’s the ultimate in cool?
So, although I’l have to face stares of disappointment from fellow skiers; I’m totally ready for it! After all, they’lre just jealous of how easy I’ll make walking look!