I took Finley out of school to go snowboarding yesterday, and we had a blast. It’s really late in the season, especially in the face of global warming, to be expecting good conditions, but we got lucky. The weather was in the 70s by the time we got to Whitetail, and we stripped off clothes when we got out of the car. The parking lot was lightly filled, the rental lanes were empty, and there were only two people working the counter. We got set up with boots, boards, and gear (I had to stop and buy Finn a new set of board gloves) and walked outside into bright sunshine to wait for our first lesson. We had a half an hour to kill so I walked her up the short hill in front of us and explained that the day was all about learning board control.
In 2016 she did fantastic getting up on her board and transitioning, but the speed scared her and the only way she could control that was by skidding out and dumping herself, which got painful and frustrating quickly. We started by keeping the board parallel to the slope and working on heel-toe control to halt the board, and then mixed that in with a little speed.
There were only a few people waiting with us for lessons, two women who worked at the resort and Finley, so by the time we were at the top of the bunny slope we paired off with Stephanie, a wonderful instructor who worked with Finn exclusively on board control and transitioning together. I wisely wore my backpack so by the end of the first run we’d stripped off our coats, stuffed them inside, and spent the rest of the day in long-sleeve T-shirts and snowpants. We were both still sweating. We did two runs with her and by the end of the second Finn was smiling broadly and laughing. We said goodbye to Stephanie and the first thing Finn asked was “when can we come back here again?”
We stopped for some lunch and sat outside in the sunshine for a little while before heading back out to the slope. Here we tried taking the Magic Carpet, essentially a conveyor belt for skis and boards which is a lot less confronting than the ski lift itself. Finn fell at the foot of the lift, and scooted around the corner as fast as she could. She got flustered immediately and most of her first run down the mountain was filled with frustration as she forgot everything we’d worked on—to the point where she kept dumping herself and asked if we could go home.
I talked her through what she was feeling and reminded her that she wasn’t doing any of what we’d learned, and then got her to do two short runs down the hill without falling. She refused to head back up the magic carpet, and the dumb 16-year-old in the booth chose that particular moment to ask me for our lift passes, which I’d stripped off and put back in the car. Annoyed, I went back and got them but couldn’t convince Finn to ride it again, so we walked back up the tiny bunny slope and worked on her braking technique until we were both tired and sweaty.
By this time the slopes were almost slushy and we were ready to call it a day, so we returned our boards, peeled off our snow pants and hit the bricks for home. There was barely anyone left in the parking lot. By Frederick she was asleep in the seat next to me, her head up against the door of the car, her cheeks, nose and forehead bright pink from the sun.