10/03/2014 | by Sam Oetiker
And what are you going to do to improve it?
By the time you read this, you will have already probably got a few runs in this season – and hopefully a few early-season parties as well. The winter is soon half done and it’s a good time to reflect on what has been going on in your snowboarding life. And the good thing is, if you do it now, you’ll be able to improve things before it’s time to brush up on your surfing skills again. A good analysis is getting half of the way to the end, so I’ll share my analysis of my season with you – if you promise to share your analysis with yourself. Do we have a deal?
But first… “Improve what things?” you should have been asking yourself a moment ago. Any sensible person should question the advice of someone they don’t know – like the writer of this article, for example, me – before taking it in. What is the grade of truth and wisdom of the source? Naturally I’m not the right person to tell you anything about my own levels of insight. But one fact is it was roughly 20 years since I rode my first run on a snowboard, so a few things have been learned the hard way along a long and dusty road, and this is what I’ve learned so far this season:
Without snowboarding I would have been a lunatic long ago. We endure so much stress in our modern lives that we need some kind of mechanism to manage it. Some use yoga, some play the guitar, and others drink a cup of tea with a book each night. In my case – and probably yours too – relaxation comes from riding my snowboard as often as I can. I’m truly happy to have these ’time-outs from reality’ on a regular basis, always shutting off the mobile phone, and pulling down a pair of mirrored goggles tight. I value these sessions more and more, as I now know that the world will always be there when I turn the phone back on and pull the goggles off.
Lift tickets are cheap when compared to most other things in life.
Lift tickets are cheap when compared to most other things in life. I used to be wary of coughing up the dough for getting to ride the lifts legally, and sequentially found myself cooking up all kinds of creative schemes of avoiding it. Today – with a wallet about the same size – I look back at what I was doing with bewilderment. Out of all the pastimes I throw cash at, lift tickets make up quite a small portion, even if I rode every possible day I could. Also, if you keep nagging the resort owners about it, I noticed they use your money to maintain the snow park a notch better, so it’s actually well spent. Another fun thing to do is buy some stock in the ski resort. Sometimes it’ll give you a rebate, and it does make you feel sort of like you’re paying yourself.
The more you use your body, the more body will you have to use. This I learnt a hard way, but it could have been even harder. After having stayed in what most people would consider great shape for my entire life, I for various reasons – the biggest one of course being laziness – moved some weight from my thighs to my tummy between last season and this one. This not only hurt my riding skills, but my body too. Every time I’ve been out riding it takes me days to recover completely, not to mention how long it takes me to recover from a decent slam. I will not make this mistake again. At least I didn’t bust a ligament or likewise before I realised it.
Once in a while, actually quite often, there is a lot we cannot achieve on our own. Related to this is that it’s often not so much our friends´ help that helps us, but the confidence of their help. This is valuable to keep in mind when deciding whether to go off riding on your own or wait a few minutes for your friends. Often I used to rush off and get on the first chair of the day, getting to lay first tracks on some steep powdery backcountry slopes. But what I did was not only dangerous, it was also less fun than riding with my friends, many of whom I may not see for the full day due to my eagerness in the morning. So from now on I’m going to wait.
If you want more powder, you must plant more trees.
Your daily life builds your bread and butter repertoire. Try a little harder each run than you think you possibly can. No rider ever became great except through mistakes and even more and greater mistakes. Each and every run can be used for both fun and improvement. But they can as easily be just another few minutes of slipping and sliding, one of those moments when we do nothing but wait for the end of the day and the end of our lives. I guess the word I’m looking to bring up is something along the lines of ‘discipline’, except one with a nicer sound to it, because it does actually take some form of control of your actions to make it happen every time. Great riders seem to have an ‘enthusiasm to improve’ – that’s a much better term for it – flowing in their veins. They ride intensely playfully, always testing the limits of themselves, their equipment, the terrain and sometimes their riding mates.
Finally, if you want more powder, you must plant more trees. There have been a number of serious reports on the effects of the greenhouse effect this winter, and for what I can gather from them it looks like we’ll have to trade in our gear at a surf shop a lot earlier than we’d like to think. Serious researchers believe we’ll have a 1 to 2 degree rise in temperature in Europe on average already over the next 20 years. For most resorts outside the Alps – and many within – this will be devastating for the number of days possible to stay open. So let’s work together on not making dry slope the only alternative for us in the future.
And now it’s time for you, Dear Reader, to share your analysis on your own season with yourself. What has been good, what has been great, and what can be improved? If you spend just a few minutes thinking about this, possibly scribbling down a few notes on your thoughts on a piece of paper, I promise you it will have a truly positive effect on the rest of your season. Because by making what drives and halts you more conscious, we are better equipped to make the right choices quickly when needed. So go ahead, I know it’s a little bit scary at the beginning, but try it. Do you have anything to lose? Of course not. Anything to gain? A better end to your season and more.
Anders Hagman is a Swedish former pro rider who believes it’s worth finding the causes of the problem before they find him.