our years ago, my wife and I decided to take snowboarding lessons. I took a class with our 13-year-old granddaughter, Michelle. A few weeks later, Kathy, my wife and grandmother to our 23 grandchildren, saw that I was catching on well enough to board along with her while she skied, so she elected to sign up for a boarding lesson. It was a mistake.
After falling, falling, falling and yes, falling, she quit, right in the middle of the lesson — after, I might add, the instructor, admiring her for her courageous effort, suggested that she stop, maybe try another time. She was sore all over, and black and blue where she had made repeated meetings with the hard-packed snow.
From time to time, the grandkids would ask, “Grandma, when are you going to try snowboarding again?” She generally answered them, “One of these days. ”
“One of these days” hit several weeks ago when, one morning, she said, “I’m ready to give snowboarding another try. Will you teach me?” Surprised by the request, I said, “Sure.”
Knowing that when my wife of 43 years makes up her mind to do something, she sticks with it, I took her by Storm Riders, our local snowboard shop, and got her fitted in some warm, comfortable, free-style boots. Then we bought some bindings to go on a board that I had. I adjusted the bindings to fit her new boots and established that she was, indeed, goofy footed. Her earlier try, on rented equipment, was set up regular-footed. There’s no way of knowing for sure, but maybe that’s why she had so much trouble in that first lesson.
With the board attached to her right foot and her left foot loose, to pedal along, I got her started. Next, we walked 100 yards up the bunny hill and practiced slipping down, front side and then back side, as I walked along, with a hand on her jacket or holding her hands, making sure she didn’t fall.
Next, we got on the beginning chairlift. I got on four or five chairs ahead of her and was standing at the top, ready to help her off, assuring a no-fall dismount from the chair. Then I walked on the downhill side of her all the way down. Again, no falls. She was encouraged. I suggested that we call it a day, a good day, and go home. The morning after, she was happy to report that she hadn’t a sore muscle on her body.
The next day, we worked on edge control and beginning turning. We spent no more than two hours on the slope. We quit before she got too tired. Again, no falls.
Four runs down the beginner slope, concentrating on controlling speed and making smooth, slow? turns. I’m still walking and she’s still not falling. She’s ready to solo.
Another day, with my board attached, I cruised along with her, watching her slowly turning her way down the hill, and I do mean slow and in control. I had her practice stopping and sitting down, then getting back up.
I moved her off the bunny hill and onto intermediate terrain, where she continued making smooth, controlled turns. Then, onto steeper slopes and more speed.
Kathy and I reminisced about how, 30 years ago at Mammoth Mountain, she learned how to ski so she could join our five kids on the slopes. Now here she was, wearing gloves with built-in wrist guards along with butt and knee pads, ready to go snowboarding with the grandkids.
Ken Hensler, a 60-something hard guy, snowboarded over 250 consecutive days last season. His pacemaker didn’t sputter once. Word to your grandmother.