I first took up snowboarding 8 years ago, and quite frankly, I sucked at it! It took me forever to pass my beginner lessons to be allowed on a proper slope but I did improve very slowly after some tuition and experience.
But it all came to a rather abrupt end a few years ago while in Austria. I had just managed to successfully clear a run that I had found quite difficult but as I was on the almost flat section heading back towards the lift, my board caught an edge and I ended up face down in agony.
I had dislocated my shoulder really badly. It was a slow painful recovery which took almost 2 years to fully heal. I have never been back on a board or snow of any kind since.
But I miss it, and it has been niggling at me.
Yeah the accident sucked, falling over all the time sucked, getting massive bruises on my butt sucked, BUT… when I actually managed to do it right the feeling was amazing and I have never experienced anything else like it since.
I have a huge amount of fear now, but I don’t want to live my life in fear. Millions of people snowboard every season without injury. If I can get back into it and get good enough to the point where I just don’t fall as much then the chance of injury is much lower.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been selling up all the stuff in my house and at first I listed all my snowboarding gear up for sale. It didn’t sell, so I put the price down to a stupidly low amount and it didn’t sell. So I decided to keep it.
At first I figured I’d just get back into it ‘one day’. Not next year as I plan to be in Spain in the warm next winter! So perhaps in 2 years time. But then I thought, why not this winter?
I have several months of boredom ahead during the winter months as I wait out the cold weather before heading out on my travels. After my brother’s death I don’t want to take life for granted any more and just put things off.
The What If’s
I allowed myself a few minutes to contemplate the ‘worst case scenario’. I could break my neck and die. Actually that wouldn’t actually bother me as I would be dead. Would suck for my family but for me the actual worst case would be if I broke my neck and ended up with a life changing injury such as paralysis.
To do that though I would have to take a really bad fall. I did hurt my neck once on an indoor slope but I took a steep section of the slope way too fast when I was no where near the ability for it and when I fell I went flying and landed badly, which hurt my neck. On a beginner slope the scope for a serious fall should be limited.
So I figure those things really aren’t very likely at all. Sure it’s possible I could dislocate my shoulder again, or perhaps break a wrist – the most common snowboarding injury, but those are not life changing. I’d recover and get on with life.
But what if I I didn’t get injured? What if I managed to conquer my fear and actually get better? What if I really loved it and managed to actually ride in the way that I want to and have an amazing experience?
Life really can be short and I should just DO things. So I made the decision, and 24 hours later the trip was booked 🙂
I have snowboarded in the Milton Keynes indoor slope which I hate and I have also spent 3 days in the Cairngorms in Scotland and a few days in Austria before the accident. But the place I have always wanted to go in Andorra.
Due to my lack of natural talent, I want to learn. I have heard great things about the Soldeu resort in particular and how it is great for beginners with one of the best ski schools in Europe.
I figure that one way I may be able to get over my fear is to get tuition and be in the safety of a beginners group, on a beginners slope with an instructor on hand the whole time! I have booked 5 days tuition – 3 hours a day.
I imagine that for the first couple of days I will stick with the tuition only and will not even venture out on the slopes on my own. I’m going to take it slow and not push it. If all I do for the whole week is just those 15 hours of tuition then that will be fine.
I’m nervous but excited! 🙂