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Remember Me

Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 03/30/2009 08:50 AM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 03/30/2009 09:55 PM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM

All A-Board! My First Gnarly Ride… By the PineTree Pedaler, Brett Loring

It was a sunny day and there weren’t many folks out on the slopes. I had finished my shift as a Bear Valley Ambassador. Skiing was going fine and I was feeling good about the day - maybe overconfident, because what I did next was a bit of a stretch even for my typical sense of adventure...

Bear Valley Snowboard Instructor, Victor

Click Above for Slide Show!

When they asked me in the rental shop if I was “goofy” or regular, I wasn’t sure how (or if) I wanted to answer. But when they clarified that they just needed to know which foot would be my downhill-lead foot, I reminisced about the time I almost slipped off a roof on a piece of plywood (with no bindings, incidentally). “That would be the left foot,” I replied - the foot I threw forward to save me that time on the roof which was to be all too comparable to the feat I was about to attempt strapped to a well-waxed snowboard. Thus, I was deemed “regular” for the afternoon.

Our instructor Victor met me and my “boardmates,” Troy Varanchodom and Leslie Song of San Jose, at the green dot sign - “First Time Beginners.” Hailing from Wisconsin, Victor hooked up with The Mountain this year as he had attended college with the daughter of Bear Valley’s CEO, Martin Wegenstein. After customary introductions to each other and the board, Victor taught us basic vocabulary: “Leash” – the strap that anchors your boot to the board (and that if you forget to undo it and try to walk, you step on your board and slip and do a “faceplant”). “Fall line” – refers to the contour of the hill with which you want to align the tip of your board and your travel on it (I found it to be the demarcation of all the places I would fall). “Tip” and “Tail” – the front, or leading edge and back, or trailing edge of your board, respectively (however I often “tipped” too much and landed on my “tail” during this endeavor). “Heelside turn” – a turn made on the heelside edge of the board (which means you end up facing uphill, while continuing downhill out of control as a “newbie”). “Toeside turn” – a turn made on the toeside edge of the board (meaning my toes end up pointing downhill and I end up on my face).

Now I thought the hardest part would be disembarking the chairlift with a composite slab of fiberglass, plastic and metal strapped and dangling from one foot. But with Victor’s good advice to keep the lead foot forward with your weight on it and shoulders and arms parallel to the slope, I mastered 2 out of 3 chairlift dismounts (not counting my proud moments of getting off successfully and uprightly at the end of the Magic Carpet). It was only when objects, i.e., fellow boarders who had not experienced a smooth dismount and were facedown in my path that I too complied with the laws of gravity and terminal velocity. Then Victor introduced a new move. The nice name for it is “Floating Leaf;” the real name, “Falling Leaf,” which more aptly described my moves. Nevertheless, I walked away unscathed, except for minor muscle aches from gravity’s victories. Honestly, I feel a day or two more on the board, and my abilities would improve to the point that I could avoid stationary objects, control my velocity, fall more gracefully, and have a good time.

3 Lessons learned:
Wear real snow pants. As much time as is spent parked on your backside on the cold snow, the extra insulation from cold (and impact) would be nice.
Do the lesson! Don’t think you can self-teach! I would have likely left the mountain in a Ski Patrol sled had I not opted for the hour-and-a-half instruction.
“Whoa dude! That was a sick ride!” is boarder-specific lingo. Don’t try to speak it and don’t try to be cool and “rip it up” on your first day on a board. Whether you “biff” and have a “yard sale” with gloves, glasses, cap strewn all over the snow, or you have an “epic” ride, don’t be a “Snow Gump” and try to come across as an articulate and experienced “snow bunny” or “handsome pants.”

While my hopes were to be able to eventually “shred” a bit with my 11-year old son, a quarter of my age, while impressing him with my keenness on the board as he bragged about his “360’s” and “Ollies” on the terrain park, my conclusion in comparing skiing to boarding? Skiing is the enjoyment of going downhill in a CONTROLLED FASHION on slush, ice or powder on TWO “sticks” with bindings that RELEASE when they need to so that you can EASILY GET BACK UP and do it again with LESS CHANCE OF SEVERE BODILY HARM. Much for the same reason I prefer a bicycle to a unicycle. That being said, I still plan to hop back on a snowboard at my next opportunity to enjoy this new challenge and a twist to my sporting repertoire (and hopefully not to my knee). Good teaching and encouragement, Victor! You’ll have a “newbie” returning to the slopes.

By the way, in addition to some beautiful spring skiing and boarding, Bear Valley is having a whopper of a sale in their sports shop and on Season Passes! You can get 25-50% off in the Reba Sports shop right now during March Madness. Until April 30, an adult unlimited Season Pass for next year is only $299, and for a child, age 6-13, a Season Pass is only $129! Stay tuned for Bear Valley’s Spring special events, including the Pond Skim on April 4, Easter service on April 11 at 4:30, and egg-hunt on the 12th. The projected seasonal closing date is April 19th. For more information, call (209) 753-2301 or visit the website at

Check in for more area activities and adventure every Monday, and let me know of other local quests I might try by emailing me at

by Columnist, ThePineTree Pedaler, Brett Loring
If you have ride thoughts, suggestions, ideas, feel free to e-mail me at

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