August 27, 2009: Riding Goofy

Mt. Hutt, New Zealand – Today was a true test in patience and keeping one’s sanity. We knew the weather would be questionable for riding, but in case Mt. Hutt was shut down we had an alternative plan of driving to another mountain two hours away. Coach Mark told us not to set an alarm but he would wake us up if there was a possibility of riding at either mountain.

At 6:45am he came in and told us that we might be going up so be ready by 8am and at that time he would make the call as to which mountain we would be going to. At 8am he told us there was a possibility that Mt. Hutt might open so we were on hold. We were all getting a little stir crazy at the house; you can’t really go anywhere or do anything outside of the house in case we get the call to ride because then we have to scramble to get ready. At 12pm right when we decided to go to the gym, Coach Mark told us that he’s going up the mountain to see what the situation is and will call us whether or not to come up. More waiting.

We finally get the call that we’re actually going to go snowboarding. Yay! But by the time we get up the mountain at around 1:30pm, the lifts shut down due to wind. More waiting. But the lifts do open again and we get four runs in before it shuts down again. Phew! Not a lot of runs, but I’ll take it. The winds were gusting so strongly that the lift would shut down when we were on it because the chairs were swinging. There were a few instances that I thought my boot and board were going to blow right off of my foot and I actually squealed out of fright. Scary but it really looked cool with all the snow swirling about like ghosts running up the hill.

Although they shut the lift, the magic carpet (moving walkway on the beginner slope) was still moving. So Coach Mark had us switch our bindings so our back foot is now in the front and the front foot is now in the back (for me that’s going from riding regular to goofy). Now I don’t know if I can appropriately describe riding goofy, but boy is it awkward, weird, uncomfortable and every other adjective that describes something that just isn’t right. It wasn’t even like I was just learning to snowboard, it was like I was learning to stand and snowboard for the first time at the same time! Even locking my back boot into my binding was a challenge. After a few runs on the bunny hill where I could go on my heelside but not my toeside, the lift opened and we went up the steeper run.

Getting off the lift was scary in and of itself, particularly with a semi-steep landing. But we managed and got hit hard by the blowing icechips and wind at the top of the run. Eager to get down I would point the board straight and then throw my backfoot out on my heelside to slow down, then repeat. I tried to go on my toeside but just couldn’t get it. I know it’s all mental but I was legitimately afraid of hurting myself, and I wanted to get down the run as fast as I can.

So it was a fun day and at least we were on snow. Hopefully tomorrow will be better weather so we can train in gates. And one of these days I will revisit riding goofy, but maybe after the Olympics, just in case.

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