Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | January 3, 2011

How do I Stink at Snowboarding? Let Me Count the Ways….

My brother, who is older and wiser and also happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, once told me that taking up a new sport over the age of 40 is a bad idea and almost certainly will lead to injury. Serious injury. In fact, he gave me a particular warning about snowboarding and the overwhelming likelihood of a broken wrist. Of course, I rarely listen to people older and wiser than me, so I decided to give snowboarding a try.

My entire family skis, except me. Although I was always quite happy to sit in the lodge and read a book while they enjoyed the day, a small part of me felt that I was missing out. I wanted our days on the mountain to be more of a family activity. Someone (I wish I could remember who so I could place blame accordingly) suggested I try snowboarding instead of skiing, with the rationale that it is less damaging on the knees. Why not?

In a year full of what could be considered errors in judgements (doing things like an overnight running relay, my first triathlon, a marathon, etc.), I soon found myself embracing yet another one. There I was, outside my comfort zone, standing on a ski slope, cold and unhappy, terrified at the thought of going down the hill and angry at myself for wanting to give up and walk away. How bad am I at snowboarding? Well, let’s start at the beginning:

– It takes me an hour just to get dressed. I hate the cold and need a lot weapons to combat it. I can barely count all the layers I put on: the Mizuno Thermo socks, the Smartwool socks over them, the Underarmour leggings, the Underarmour shirt, more leggings, another shirt, plus one more for good luck, the neck warmer, the ear warmer, the snowpants, the jacket, the hat, the gloves, the other gloves. And then I realize I have to go to the bathroom one last time.

– Putting on the snowboarding boots takes another 30 minutes. Often my foot cramps up as I am trying to wedge it into the boot. Then I have to hop around getting rid of the cramp. Then I try stuffing my foot in again. Once the feet are in, I have to lace up the inner part of the boot, and then I have to do the outer laces, grunting and groaning and puling with all my might to tighten them. At this point, I am exhausted and need to take a break to recover. I have broken into a sweat before I have even walked out the door.

– I then find myself at the top of the hill (well, the bunny slope, truth be told) and it is time to get on the snowboard; I have to put the bindings on the boots. Optimistically, I try putting them on while standing up. This is when my lack of flexibility becomes evident and I vow to do more yoga. I fiddle with the bindings, trying to get the straps on, and eventually I fall down on my butt. After approximately 30 minutes of huffing and puffing and trying to get the damn straps in the buckles, I finally manage to do it. Then I need to sit for a minute to recover. Is it time for lunch break yet?

– I try standing up from a seated position but I don’t have the core strength to pull it off (this is when I vow to do more Pilates).

– I flip over onto my stomach and try to stand up that way. I stay for a while in the downward dog position (again reminding myself to do more yoga) and then finally, inch by inch, I walk my hands towards my feet and manage to stand up.

– I’m standing! Then I start moving. Uh-oh, I’m headed down hill. Help! How do I stop? In a panic, I can’t remember. It seemed so easy in the lesson, but now I have forgotten what to do. I must use the effective, if painful, method of hurling myself to the ground. Ouch.

– I repeat the awkward transition from lying prone to standing again.

– The second time around I move in a slightly more controlled fashion.

– Unfortunately, I can only go left. Left, left, left!

– I try to head right but it only scares the daylights out of me and presents a significant hazard to every other person on the mountain.

– I become well acquainted with the trees on the left side of the trail.

– I fall frequently. It takes me about 15 minutes to stand up each time. I then progress approximately two feet forward and fall again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

– After several hours, I find myself at the bottom of the hill

– And since I arrived intact at the bottom (without breaking my wrist, it should be noted), I foolishly declare “Let’s do that again!” Because nearly killing myself once just wasn’t enough.

As I leave the mountain at the end of the day, tired, sore and bruised over 90 percent of my body, I wonder briefly if my brother  was right. But after stopping to pick up some Advil, I find myself plotting out our next ski trip. Apparently I’ll never learn. (I do, however, recommend wrist guards if you are going to give it a try.)


  1. You’d think with all those layers on, you’d have enough to cushion the fall 😉

    • Ha! True. And you probably snowboard in shorts and T-shirt!

      • I’ve turned into a cold-weather wimp the last couple of weeks. 45 degrees is cold to me now!!

  2. Hilarious as usual, Sue. You just will not stop, will you? Kudos to you for continuing to try new things. Too bad about the bruises but at least you didn’t break anything. Imagine having to tell your older, and wiser, brother that one! 😉

    • Thanks Cheryl. Yes, I am so lucky I did not break anything. I would have been much too humiliated to admit it!

  3. Why? Oh, why is there no video to accompany this post? Matt?

    • As they say, with friends like you… Matt was probably too busy keeping his cell phone handy to call 911.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: