The conditions could not have been more perfect for me to succeed. I was in Coeur d’Alene Idaho visiting with friends for our self-made #winterfest. The weekend was designed to breed fun, and to squash any limiting beliefs about what our bodies are capable of. Hence the plank challenge and the polar plunge in Lake Coeur d’Alene (sorry mom!) But more on those later...
On our final day in Idaho we returned to Lookout Pass, ready to shred. Lift tickets were SO cheap, it didn't make sense not to go for round 2. Conditions were dreamy; fresh powder fell from the sky, and I realized I had the run ALL to myself. Note to self: small town slopes over big time pricey Vail any day. Less money, less people, less barrier to boarding.
My friend had given me some really solid pointers. Something about squishing a grape in my boot, lifting my tail up, etc…
I was ready.
I’d been training for this. And by training, I mean I’d been snowboarding maybe 12 times in my life (sometimes sober, sometimes armed with liquid courage), I’d purchased all the necessary equipment 5 years ago, and traveled around the country perfecting my falling leaf.
But I was done being an amateur. I was done telling my friends to go on without me. Done with the burning in my thighs that comes from spending the whole day on heel-side.
And truthfully, I think the Universe was over me saying “shred” without actually shredding.
So there I am, coaching myself down the slope. “Lean into it. Lift your tail. Nice and easy. You got this. Heeeeeelllll. Tooooooeeeeee. Nicccce and easssyyyy. You got this….Oh my god you really got this….Eeeeeeeeee! Oh my god I’m doing it! This is so FUNNNN!!!”
And then, like a movie, I’m no longer in my body. I’m above my body, watching myself carve down the mountain. Noticing again how there is no one else around me on the slope. Noticing how bad-ass I look. Feeling grateful that I have the ability to go snowboarding on a day when most of the world is working.
I’m going really fast now. I even let out a WOOHOOOOO!! Like I’ve heard other boarders do as they flew by me and sprayed me with snow, knocking me out of my falling leaf rhythm. Note to self: When I’m a professional snowboarder--or at least someone who doesn’t fall every 40 feet--don’t be a dick to the people who are just starting out.
I reach the bottom, finishing with a sickkkk toe-side as I approach the lift, and unbuckle my binding without even sitting down or coming to a full stop.*
I ask the lift attendant (who doesn’t even bother to check my pass because I’m LITERALLY the only person in sight) how much time I have until the lift closes.
This run is on the backside of the mountain. The Montana side! (I make a mental note to cross another state off my scratch-off map of the U.S.) He tells me that this lift will close in 30 minutes, but I have an hour until the last lift of the day.
I’ve FINALLY learned to snowboard and I only have an hour left to do it!
As I ride the lift up for my final run down my new favorite slope, tears come to my eyes. Partly because I have resolved to spend the day without my goggles because I really need to get contacts, and can’t actually see the slopes with my goggles on; the wind and sleet now blowing freely into my exposed eyes. And partly, from pure unabashed joy.
The trees surrounding the lift are pure magic. My newfound comfort on my board is pure magic.
There have been so many times I’ve wondered if I should just switch back to skiing, because frankly, it’s easier.
But I never did! You can’t get good at something doing it once or twice, every three years. Your body and mind aren’t able to build the necessary muscle memory without consistent repetition.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I’m so glad I say yes at every chance I get to “shred.”
The profundity of realizing that determination really can pay off is still dawning on me.
It supposedly takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery. If you’re only willing to give 10, then you’ll reap the relative reward of that effort.
No matter what your passion or hobby is, if it’s important to you, make it a priority. Spend money on it, spend time on it. Seek out favorable circumstances for success.
The final two runs of the day were epic. I migrated from the green circles in Montana, back to the Idaho side and finished out the day on a blue square aptly named “Bonanza."
Reunited with my friends, I shred like I’ve never shred before. “It’s like night and day. You’re a completely different person!” my friend Nick told me.
He wasn’t wrong.
I felt renewed. I felt changed. The realization of what is possible when you commit to something, and go after it with a belief that you CAN ACTUALLY DO IT do it left me high.
I hope you find the same highs in your life. Find things that make you feel alive. Practice them, seek help to improve, repeat.
You got this, ‘bruh.
Still 'riding the stoke',
*This may have been embellished for effect.