Laura Barakeris shares her story about discovering snowboarding as an adult.
The winter I turned 40, I learned how to snowboard. We had gotten our kids lessons at Snow Valley and in my search to find equipment for the boys, I found a ladies’ set of boots, board, bindings and helmet for $50, so I bought it. Everyone I told tried to talk me out of it.
“You’ll hurt yourself!”
“Ninety per cent of people over 40 break their wrists snowboarding.”
Who are these lame-o, bringer-downers? These I’m-afraid-so-you-should-be-too duds? They are everywhere, so beware. They discourage your dreams and ideas, trying to convince you that you’re too old, too weak, too late. The effects can be subtle too and you may not even notice until days later, when you’re babying your sore muscles, you think, “I’m too old for this.”
No, you are not.
If you have a good instructor, you’ll do fine. And I did have a good instructor. A few actually. I went through three levels of lessons and it’s one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Snowboarding is fun, and despite the impression given watching 15-year-old boys zip straight down the hill, I find snowboarding slower than skiing. I can dip and weave, turning wide lazy loops all the way down. Sure, initially the learning curve was sharper than the groove I dug into the hill as I slid down heel-side trying to stay upright. I landed on my butt a lot. My muscles ached from tensing up when I fell. But with practice and repetition of proper techniques, it got better.
One Tuesday evening, I ended up being the only student showing up for the lesson. I joked to Kayla, my instructor, that it was our private lesson. It had snowed that day and was powder heaven. I couldn’t dream feeling better—I floated on air. My motions slowed, but exaggerated, my body felt looser, like moving through a marshmallow. I had taken enough lessons at this point to be able to make it successfully down the hill and I was now perfecting techniques. Kayla showed me how to spin in circles down the hill, first one way, then the other. Tornado swirls marked my descent. I felt like a kid again—back when summer holidays lasted forever and I didn’t worry about how I looked. The snow started to fall again. Big fat soft fluffs of flakes. I sat at the top of the hill, strapped on my board and looked out towards the Whitemud. Commuters driving home, headlights shone through the falling snow. Sounds muffled. The air glowed and cloud filled the sky except for a wide low swath to the east. The sky felt off, like the sun was on the wrong side—morning instead of evening. Flakes melted on my face, as I tilted my head back.
“Ready to go again?” Kayla asked me.
Adult lessons and rentals are available at all the local ski hills. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes are offered, as well as terrain park lessons, and some women-only classes.
Contact your hill of choice for lessons: