October 20, 2009: Back on Snow!

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – I was pretty excited this morning driving up to the mountain. It’s about an hour drive so I had all the time in the world to think about things –my new liners, technical aspects of snowboarding, marching at the Opening Ceremonies, my last spectacular day of surfing. Even the barren terrain and warm temps (fifties!) couldn’t diminish my spirits.

Only one run was open at A-basin, one wide line of white amidst the brown, rocky mountain side. The bottom of the resort lies at 10,780 feet, so the single run was dwarfed among enormous peaks reaching 13,050 feet. It was an awesome sight. What wasn’t so awesome was the crowd of people that had formed at the lift, anxiously waiting for it to open.

The first few runs on my slalom board took a little to get used to with my new liners but overall felt good, like not much time had past since the last time I was snowboarding (a month ago). My boots felt comfortable and tight on my feet so my board was immediately responsive to any movement, a completely new feeling from my old boots where my feet were swimming. The only thing I was having trouble with is the stiffness of my boot. The plastic on my back foot feels so soft that when I drive that knee forward, there’s nothing to resist that pressure and so that force, which should transmit to the boot to the binding to the board for snappier turns, ends up going nowhere. So I need to figure out something with that.

While I was riding I kept thinking ‘be aggressive on each turn’. One of the lessons I learned in New Zealand racing at the local races was that I need to work on every single turn. Every turn that I just ride and not expend energy is time lost against the person that is working every turn. Something that I took from surfing that helped me is the attitude of just going for it and seeing what happens, seeing how the body reacts because in most cases it’ll get itself out of trouble. The run got cut up pretty quickly from all the people, and bumps were forming everywhere. But the image of surfing came into my head, and with it the thought of just riding and seeing what happens. It was a bit of a rodeo and I got some air a few times, but my body came through and figured out on its own how to stay in control without my mind or emotions getting in the way.

So overall it was a good day. Not super spectacular having to wait for a clearing of people, but it is snow and it felt good to be on it. Tomorrow I’ll be one of the crowd waiting in line for the lift to open to hopefully get at least three solid runs on my GS board before having to switch to slalom and view people as gates!

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