|Just showing off before I started|
Every day I ask myself: when was the last time I did something for the first time. Even though the answer is obvious (which is everyday), this is true on most days at a subliminal level, but on a physical level, when I asked myself the question, the answer was: almost to this date, last month. And what I did can only be a summary of my life’s motto ‘go with the flow’ since what I did could only happen if you let yourself go with the flow – snowboarding. It might come as a surprise to many that even after spending most of my life in, around and within snow, I had never done snowboarding in my life, not even strapped on to one ever. During my Swiss trip last month I learnt that a dear friend is also a champion pro-level snowboarder and hence ensued the adventure and I loved every moment of this sport even though I fell countless times; since only by falling do we learn to get up.
We drove one fine morning, fully loaded with snowboards, warm clothes, munchies and snacks and headed for the quaint village of Fideris in the canton of Graubünden near Davos. Fideris is a beautiful little settlement of few houses built on slopes of mountain. We parked at the bus station from where we boarded the red coloured bus that would take us up to Fideriser Heuberge since the road above is full of snow and personal vehicles are not permitted above Fideris. As we climbed up through dense forest with snow covered ground and the village fell below the surrounding mountains started sprouting like fresh tulip. About 40 min later we reached Fideriser Heuberge and checked into the ski resort of Arflina. The snow covered slopes in all direction was surely a heart warming sight after the drive from Zurich. Dropping our bags, we rushed out into the snow as I was super eager to strap myself to the snowboard.
I am a moderately capable skier, both backcountry and alpine so the trajectory of a snow slope or the cold or the prospect of getting snow inside my clothes was not a deterrent. I can handle snow and ice for sure. Despite that my first step into the board was nothing short of clumsy. As my friend instructed I learned how to put one foot after another, without falling or collapsing on my bum. Suddenly both my legs were plastered onto a single board that would simply not listen to my commands, either verbal or physical. Though my friend was rolling on ground in laughter, I was rolling on ground for entirely different reasons. I realized it was all about bottom balancing and keeping my upper body steady. I had to drop my bottom as if I was sitting on the air, keep my body twisted in an angle that cannot be maintained unless you are moving and then just go with the flow. Since I was crashing far too often, we stepped out of the piste slopes lest someone bumps into me or I bump into someone. It was rather perplexing to see toddlers barely reaching my knees, zipping past on their boards like shooting stars. My friend of course waltzed around showing some of her moves. All of which made me that much more determined to get back on the board.
One of the first things my friend taught me was how to stand back up after I fell, without falling over again in the process. It was nothing short of an acrobatic manoeuvre where I had to twist my body and both my legs and the board in one sharp cartwheel bringing the board squarely on to the downhill side and then stand up all in a single smooth motion. Though she performed the move as if it was nothing more than batting your eyelid, I found it quite a mystery. Then came the decision did I wish to snowboard with my left side or right side facing the direction of the movement. What the hell! Why couldn’t I move downhill simply facing with my full body, the way we normally climb mountains? But then upon a snowboard you are moving in line with the longer axis of the board so I learnt first leading by the left and then by the right and realized I was equally hopeless either way so it didn’t really mattered. On the piste slopes it was easier but also faster and with other skiers and snowboarders throwing snow dust into my eyes it was rather unnerving so we veered upon fresh snow. Then I learnt the secrets of inner edge and outer edge riding and then turns and then how to stop; which I actually didn’t learn at all.
My first slide came after few moments of inexplicable immobility. No matter how hard I tried or followed my friend, my snowboard simply refused to move; and suddenly when it did, it wouldn’t stop so I went flying and then diving and finally crashing and getting buried into a huge mound of snow. Very funny and equally fun; not sure who of the two of us was laughing harder. As we were not using the ski lift to go back up, the climb back up on fresh snow was demanding and rather enjoyable. That’s what we did all day and by the end of it all, after the slopes shut down and we were the only two human left on the vast slopes, we sat down and watched the sun going down to the west painting everything in shades of pink and orange and I felt an immense uplifting glow. I was completely wet and cold as there were tons of snow inside my clothes but there was hot shower and food waiting and I had finally managed to go down nearly 100 m without falling and had also learnt to stop on a 30 deg slope and my bottom did not hurt as much as my other friends back in Zurich had warned me it would.
There was enough reason for gratitude and rejoicing. As the winds build up we stood up, I thanked my friend and we took one last picture into the setting sun and went indoors. Even with my feet strapped I had discovered the freedom of the slopes upon a snowboard and I can’t wait to get back and hone my skill further. I liked its simplicity and what it taught; just go with the flow. I think I am a snowboard fan now.