Thursday, December 3, 2009

Riding Lessons

Nearing lunch I rejoined Mary Ann. She couldn’t wait to show me how much she had learned. Apparently, her instructor was a very good teacher and Mary Ann was an excellent student. The instructor said so. After just two hours of practice, Mary Ann felt ready to take on the top of the mountain - the part that had challenged me earlier in the morning.


Newly confident, Mary Ann exclaimed that there were only a few things that had tripped her up. First, look where you’re going. I don’t know why I hadn’t told her that; common sense, I guess. It you look at the board, you have no hope of making it down the hill. It’s like the old balance-egg-on-spoon race. Somehow the body adjusts if you keep focus forward or on the horizon.

The instructor had also taught Mary Ann some techniques for taking difficult slopes. This is the real advantage of snow boarding - you have a safety for getting out of situations way out of your league. On skis, the end result is usually a total yard sale. On a board, you can just stay on your back edge, looking down the mountain, and slowly take the slope down left and right. Mary Ann’s instructor called it the dead leaf method. It doesn’t look as cool as carving sharp lines down the mountain, but safety first.

Armed with this new knowledge, Mary Ann dutifully followed me up the hill. The flat spots were especially difficult for her, because she didn’t feel comfortable maintaining as much speed. She also had to do a lot of “dead leaf.” But eventually, she made it down the entire mountain with only moderate difficulty. A few more practice runs in the afternoon and Mary Ann was finding her way down the slopes with fewer falls than me. The culmination of two days effort, Mary Ann also successfully descended a red slope.

She is very excited to go riding again. Surprisingly Chusclan has a skiing club; they call themselves the Snow Marmots. Friday is the organizational meeting. We might be back on the Alpine slopes much sooner than I ever expected.

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