Some people would say that we live in Ski Central, but there are more than a few who would disagree and would rather go with one of the downhill styles that have become more than a little popular — snowboarding.
Locally, there has been quite a bit a success with the high schoolers winning the provincial championship and young snowboarders sweeping events at the provincial series level and beyond.
Mike Grace-Dacosta, recently joined to The Interior News staff, decided it was time for him to give it a try and so he headed up the slopes.
“I hope I don’t embarrass myself,” was his only comment.
No problem at all. Mike hooked up with one of Hudson Bay Mountain’s top instructors for his first lesson to ensure he would get off to a good start.
Frankie Tam, here from New Zealand on a work visa, took Mike by the hand (and foot) to help him through the first steps of snowboard expertise.
“Mike was really responsive and he asked a lot of questions. He kept giving it a go and was really responsive,” said Tam.
Mike started off on the most gentle of slopes to literally get his feet and after a few runs where he lost balance as he was adjusting to Tam’s instructions, he gained confidence and was ready for a bigger challenge.
Grabbing the rope tow, Mike got halfway up the next hill when it came to a sudden stop. Safety features had come into play on the tow and the rope was soon headed up the hill again following checks by staff.
Mike and his instructor had a few short discussions and soon they were on their way down a longer slope.
Other ski novices and their instructors were there as well. There was a German rope tow operator, a skier from Taiwan, another from Brazil, others from the local area and even an instructor or two from Canada. Made one proud to be Canadian.
Mike and Tam were up and down the hill numerous times and it was easy to see the improved confidence and skill with which Mike was picking up speed, and occasionally himself, as he made his way to the bottom of the slope and back to the tow.
At the end of the session, Mike seemed pleased with his efforts while Tam was positive.
Tam wasn’t sure if Mike would make it to the World Cup circuit this season but he felt that with a few more sessions he would improve greatly.
“He’ll be shredding it down,” he said.
His biggest suggestion was for Mike to practice.
Tam’s biggest suggestion for those who had not snowboarded before: definitely have a lesson.
An experienced instructor, he could not underestimate the importance of getting off on the right foot.
“It is a lot harder sometimes to teach someone who has tried to teach themselves because they develop bad habits and it is harder to get rid of bad habits than it is to develop good habits from the beginning,” he said.