Snowboarding is a cathartic experience.
The way the snow hisses under your board. The way that same snow sprays from the edges like water when you carve from side to side. The feeling of effortless speed as the wind licks at your face. Speed which you can control just by leaning on your toes or rocking back on your heels. The gliding motion down the mountain is natural and unforced. Once you’re in the groove, you stop trying to control everything and just work with the mountain instead of against it. Sometimes you’ll look up the path you just came down and see long looping switchbacks. Like a paintbrush on an ever changing canvas. You have a moment of pride; then begin painting your next masterpiece.
… At least sometimes it’s like that. Other times, you find yourself skidding butt first down a particularly steep Blue Square at a surprising speed while you ask yourself “I wonder how long I can do this before someone tells me I need to get up?”
This is where I found myself around 3pm yesterday. I had been snowboarding all morning and only stopped for a short break before heading back out again. I’ve been SO EAGER to spend as much time carving the mountain as possible, I didn’t realize how groggy and sore I had become. At some point, I miscalculated my turn and instead of waiting for the edge of my board to catch and flip me, I just sat down.
Now, typically, when one sits down, they slowly decelerate until they come to a complete stop. At which time, one may either stand up, or make snow angels until the Ski Patrol gets upset with them.
This did not happen to me. What transpired was not a deceleration, nor a particular acceleration. My butt had become some magical spot in which the laws of friction did not apply. Blissfully, I began descending the mountain in a posture very similar to reclining at a beach when watching the waves lap the shore. My snowboard acting like a plow in front of me sending snow into the air like little crystallized clouds. It was so utterly pleasant I just allowed myself to remain in that posture until a thought passed through my mind. “Is someone going to hit me from behind?”
Still not yet ready to regain a more reasonable posture, I just twisted my board a little to allow one edge to dig into the snow. This spun me around rather quickly and I was able to see back up the route in which I’ve been traversing on my posterior.
I enjoyed this position as well. It was like falling through a cloud. I was just tired enough (and at this point, curious enough) to see how far I could go down the mountain. The board, now “behind” me, sent its puffs of snow into the air whenever a fresh patch of powder went on either side. I watched as the white puffs would catch the light and sparkle. I could sit up, lay down, and even splay my arms out. All of this did not appear to interfere with my trajectory. It was so peaceful; so pleasant; and coupled with the fact no one else was on that stretch of snow, I just enjoyed the ride.
I can’t remember exactly when I had my next thought. I remember realizing I was now in the exact middle of the run they call “Big Red”. Now, being a responsible snowboarder, I know that slower boarders should stay to the sides and allow the center isle for more experienced riders. This was completely unnecessary seeing as there was still no one around. I just wanted to relish in the simple joy of breaking a standard code of etiquette without actually causing anyone harm. So I twisted myself just a little to see where I was headed and that’s when I saw it.
I wish I could say what transpired was suave, calm, or even graceful. Sadly it wasn’t even slightly any of those things. Once I realized my day was about to involve a couple thousand pounds of steel, it all became a blur.
There was a good amount of flailing combined with some attempts to spin onto my stomach (which were all unsuccessful at first). My lack of grace was more than compensated by my supreme will to alter my current course, which was a little quicker than I had originally realized. I tried a modified backstroke and even a spastic snow angel which did little to no good.
Finally, out of desperation, I forced my board into a perpendicular angle, dug it hard into the snow, flipped onto my stomach, and held a crawling-on-hands-and-knees position until finally I slowed to a stop just a couple feet from the looming steel spile. At that point, I figured my journey had ended and I could go on with my day comfortable with the knowledge that if not for the immovable steel structure, I would have very likely continued onward till Kentucky…. and no one would have wanted that.