Friday, October 9, 2009

Missing the snow

Today started off as a slow day at work. That being said I took to the Transworld Snowboard website (for girls). I checked out the regular site too. I read up a bit about the now ended South American all girls snowboard camps and some interviews of sponsored riders who trained or filmed this summer. I even read all 40 reviews for the Goodwood test. I wonder... am I missing winter? More than just a bit.

Don't get me wrong, the fall is a pretty amazing season. It reminds me of soccer, school & the past, apple picking, family, and the colors ... they don't compare. I fall had always been a favorite season but it's also like a tease. It's like a Thursday... so close to Friday, yet not close enough. I yearn for snow... those snowy weekends that make my heart flutter and my head spin.

I'll admit, I'm no Leanne Pelosi, Torah Bright or Colleen Quigley ... I don't even deserve to touch the snow they ride on, but I will admit that I look up to them. These girls are from all different ends of the spectrum... West Coast Canada, Australia, New England... and they all shred like they were born with a deck on the bottom of their feet. Sometimes I look at their photoshoots and I can't help but feel in awe. These girls are hot... I mean like models. They have great bodies, beautiful faces, and fun personalities. But they are also smoking hot while they run the mountain like they were born to do nothing but.

I read a few articles about the women's snowboard camps... these are for girls who are already in the know! They have a skill set to be able to tackle at least the basic tricks in the park, can run every trail, and can handle their own off the trail. I am in no way qualified to be in a snowboard camp... not now and probably not ever. I am paralyzed on the mountain.

I progressed quickly. This will be my 4th winter on a board and off my skis. I can ride most marked trails at my own pace but I never feel confident. I clench my fists even on the runs I know I can handle. When I reach speeds that most would find exhilarating, I find myself bracing for my next big wipe out that will for sure knock me unconscious (at least that's what I'm thinking). It inhibits me from improving. It inhibits me from trying new things. It has become a horrible horrible thing because I know I could be better... a stronger rider.

2 years ago I was a completely different rider - 3 years ago I was more or less pathetic. I still remember 3 years ago, going to Windham mountain with Jerry, Paul and a few others. It was the 1st time Paul saw me on a snowboard with my new boots. We did a blue (that I thought was a green) together as a warm up. I amazingly kept my edges, held on, and did great. I not just surprised Paul, I surprised myself. I thought I'd have to go down the whole way on my butt. Even Jerry said I wasn't as bad as he thought I'd be. Especially seeing how scared I was even on my skis and that I've done since I was 8! But then came the recommendation to do the dreaded Upper Whistler. It's icy and steep on one side and moguls on the other. I was not ready and though I tried, I nearly broke out in tears. I could not get down even 5 feet before falling. Paul thankfully stayed with me. And of course it was located right under a lift so I had 10 year olds putting me on blast - but I got down. I don't think I tried to tackle that run the rest of the day... or the next.

Only a year later, I was faced with Upper Whistler again. I didn't shy away from it. I decided I needed to do it. I said nothing to anyone. I didn't object. I didn't vocalize my unending fear. I just followed the boys. And I did it! I was able to get down. It didn't feel as steep. It didn't seem so unmanageable. I did it - end of story. When we got to the bottom I stopped Paul and told him... I conquered it. Recalling last winter, he smiled. He was proud. But sometimes... making people see that you can do it can be worse than having them think you suck.

After that moment it become obvious I was improving and people expected that fast pace to continue. And it did... until my mental block became all too obvious. In the beginning it was Paul who lost patience. He sensed my aversion to tackling the scary, the big, the lumpy... and he'd get annoyed - pushing me to the brink of anger. But sometimes his being hard on me worked, other times it was discouraging. Jerry saw this a mile away and would tell me to ignore Paul. That maybe he was carving lines too tight for me to follow. He said Paul maybe was expecting too much. Being the most thoughtful I've ever seen him, he'd try to help me. He helped me get through some small moguls. He helped me gain confidence. And he'd wait at the bottom of every major hill to watch me get down... safe and sound. He became my "snowboard boyfriend." But only after a year and a half of his encouragement he saw right through me. I was better than I was letting myself be. This past winter he verbally put me down. Telling me I was being a wuss on the mountain (picture harsher words). They all made fun of me - let me have it. Now for the past season and a half rather than encouragement I get put down. I get told I'm not trying hard enough and that I'm riding scared. And when I do accomplish some small hurdle, it's overshadowed by the ones I didn't conquer.

I explained my discouragement to Paul. I told him rather than put me down he should be proud of what I HAVE done in only 3 years. He admits that maybe they expect so much because the progression was fast. But the constant discouragement was really bringing me down and he tried to cool it. Jerry - well not so much.

But now I'm even bringing myself down. The negativity is infectious. I've even retreated into myself just to give myself a few internal punches to the ego. It must be me trying to push myself.

There are expectations and they went from being good ones to being bad ones. I was expected to get better every year and now I'm expected to ... well to ride soft. To hold back. Now I know I need to change that. I am the only girl out of our riding crew. I'm the only one that hangs... and sometimes it's only by a thread. I've had my whining moments and I've had my angry moments. This year I need to buck up and show them I can hang... like really hang. I may not hit the park, I might not stomp out jumps or do 180's, butters of tail presses but I will hang... if not with my skill with my attitude.

For the love of shred!

Colleen Quigley

Leanne Pelosi

Torah Bright

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