Mike Grace-Dacosta (L) discusses the very basics with instructor Frankie Tam (R) before strapping on the snowboard for some moving around the gentlest of slopes..

Hudson Bay Mountain wins over winter-weary reporter

This reporter learned to embrace the powder.

This might sound like heresy since I’m in ski country, but other than snow tubing and hockey I don’t like winter sports. I’m the type of person to wrap myself in three layers of blankets if it gets below -5 so the idea of willingly spending half a day up on a mountain is nonsense to me.

The one thing I’ve heard over and over again since coming to Smithers is that this town has some of the best skiing in the province and that it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.

So after some prodding from my coworkers (and hearing about the hill for the 500th time) I agreed to go up Hudson Bay Mountain to see what all the hype was about.

I decided to go snowboarding because I had fun the one time I went as a kid and, honestly, it’s just cooler than skiing (please don’t kill me skiers).

After signing up for a lesson I got my gear and was ready to hit the slopes. Or at least I thought I was.

The first thing I learned is you can’t be a snowboarder if you skip leg day. At times you need to bring your board uphill by dragging and lifting it with one leg, which obviously can get quite tiresome and oddly requires some ankle strength.

This seems obvious in retrospect but balance is also key. I can’t count the amount of times I ended up flat on my back after a run simply because I lost my balance as I was coming to a stop or how many times I struggled to even get up after falling down.

My instructor Frankie Tam was extremely patient with me throughout my many mishaps. He was always there to help me back up after I fell and didn’t mind taking breaks if he saw I was struggling to climb up a hill.

His patience paid off as eventually things began to click and I started having more control of my board going down the hill. Of course, I’m no pro but at least now I won’t be falling down at the end of every run now.

Which is another thing I wasn’t totally prepared for. I didn’t know how to fall safely. I kept extending my hands out to break my fall which, as Tam told me, would only serve to break my wrists. Falling correctly also helps avoid neck strains — something I wish I knew beforehand.

When I woke up the next morning my body was a wreck. My neck, back, wrists and feet were a mess and would stay that while for the next few days but I didn’t care. I loved every minute on the hill.

The rush from going down a slope at speeds, the sense of accomplishment of finally nailing a toe edge turn, is incredible.

Spending half a day on mountain isn’t nonsense, it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life and I can’t wait to go back.

mike.grace-dacosta@interior-news.com

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