If at first you don’t succeed...
DASHA KUPRIENKO traded her good old skis for a snowboard and had a group lesson filled with laughs and falls at Coronet Peak.
Our group lesson was like being thrown into the deep end, or, more precisely, onto a ski field. The lesson was along the lines of: "give it a try - oops you fell, get up and give it another try."
It was a snowboarding lesson at least ten years too late. I could tell by the six-year-olds racing like pros down Coronet Peak.
There was to be no racing involved for me.
I was an absolute beginner and I expected to be crawling, falling and slipping.
It was a busy Sunday across all ski fields in Queenstown that day, after an average 30cm of snow had fallen overnight.
A dozen awkwardly standing snowboard beginners geared up in the rental department before meeting with guru snowboarder Becky who was handling us for the day.
Becky checked if our boots were done up properly. Then she took us to the flattest part of the ski field where another group of snowboarders was already sliding down the hill with one leg clipped to the board.
Once on the slopes we learned about bindings, how to attach ourselves to the board, figured out our leading leg and then off we went, doing the same one-legged slides.
We ended the ‘get used to the board’ exercise with a few slides turning left and right at the end, by slightly pushing our knees in the direction we wanted to go.
Did I say turning? Because I really meant falling.
We were falling in all directions one by one as we were practising. Freestyle at its finest. Nailed it.
After a decent amount of falls and laughs at each other, Becky told us we were now to clip both of out feet to the board.
As as skier who has never surfed, skateboarded or tried any sports with two feet attached, I feared disaster was inevitable.
The instructor said we should be flexing our shins, putting pressure on our ankles and basically be in a cowboy position to board on our toes - kind of the same thing as sliding backwards.
I flipped on my board and stood up - let’s give this toe thing a try.
My legs were already screaming for help as I flexed and found muscles I didn’t even know existed. It felt like my boots were about to untie themselves from the pressure.
The slope kept taking me to the right, following the downhill gradient, but Becky said to put more power into the left knee to push the board that way.
The next lesson on heel riding was after lunch. A few keen beginners admitted they’d already forgotten what they’d learned an hour ago.
I was one of them.
It was hard to find the right balance when boarding on your heels. But you have to be able to balance the weight you put on the edge to avoid falling on your butt.
Our group lesson was like being thrown into the deep end, or, more precisely, onto a ski field.
The lesson was along the lines of: ’’give it a try - oops you fell, get up and give it another try.’’
The more you fell the more attempts you got.
After a handful of runs I had my heels and toes under control, with Becky giving me the thumbs up from the top of the Magic Carpet.
By 4pm the body was tired, the butt was cold and bruised but the soul was filled with pride and happiness from my snowboarding success.
Since then, I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back up the mountain so I can practise my toes and heels and nail some smooth turns.
‘Starter Pack’ one day package was sponsored by NZSki. The $145 package included a lift pass, two group lessons and either skiing or snowboarding rentals. It could be used on either Coronet Peak or The Remarkables ski fields. Bookings are advisable.
Mirror reporter Dasha Kuprienko learned how to snowboard for the first time at the Coronet Peak.