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.

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

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.

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