Sam and Stu's Kiwi Travels
Snowboarding Sam!!! Today was my first day on a Snowboard! I got up at 6:30 (thats right, 6:30am..I'm meant to be on holiday!! And yes, Stu was still in bed!) and wandered into town to rent my snowboard and boots from The Green Toad. I was given a 151cm Dynastar board, some black Salomon boots and some wrist guards that the man behind the counter insisted I would need as it was my first day on a board. I caught the 8am bus up to the Remarkables from the station in town and met Stu up there just after 9. We popped into the restaurant for a quick cheese and ham croissant as we'd missed breakfast, and then headed out to the beginner slope. We sat at the top and strapped the board to my feet....it felt so weird after skis. It felt so strange and completely wrong that I couldn't move my feet! Anyway, after a couple of attempts I managed to stand up, and I slowly edged down the slope in a kind of pendulum motion on my heal edge with Stu walking down beside me. Again, it felt really weird, but I managed to get to the bottom without falling over so that was a bonus. I unstrapped the board and headed back up the magic carpet for another go. After another couple of 'runs' I was feeling reasonably comfortable on my heal edge, I felt much more comfortable on the board and I could just about manouvere it where I wanted as long as I stayed in the pendulum. I sent Stu off up the mountain to do a couple of runs while I practised as I didn't want him to get too bored and I was feeling confident enough to go down on my own now as lng as I didn't try anything new! It was a really beautiful day up at the Remarkables, the sun was out, the sky was a bright winter blue and there wasn't a cloud to be seen. It was so hot I had to take two of my layers off so I was left with just a t-shirt and my ski jacket! I don't think it's been that hot up there all season. I was quite happy meandering down the learner slope on my board, trying to get used to steering it (still only on my heal edge) and picking up a bit more speed as I went. I tried to have a go on my toe edge but I couldn't get my balance and I didn't feel like I had any control so I thought I'd wait until Stu got back to give that a go! Stu came back down about half hour later and I quickly showed him what I could do! He said I looked really good and seemed really confident on my heel edge and agreed that it was time to try going down on my toe edge. I stood at the top of the slope with my back facing down the slope and Stu stood in front of me facing down. He held my hands and we slowly edged down the slope on my toe edge....ouch!!!! It really hurts going onto your toe edge, it puts loads of strain on your ankles and knees and I didn't feel comfortable at all! Stu tried to show me how to stand and what to do to stop but I found it really difficult. By the second run down my bad ankle was getting really sore and I was still struggling to keep my balance. Much harder than I expected! We did a couple more runs on my toe edge and I started to feel a bit more comfortable. Stu thought it was time to try turning...aaaah!! I didn't think I'd be turning on my first day. Right, again we stood at the top, this time I was facing down the slope and Stu sttod in front of me holdnd my hands. I started off on my heel edge, then I straightened my board, laid it flat, went onto my heel edge and Stu pulled me round to complete the turn so I finished on my toe edge. Not as bad as I thought although I wouldn't want to do it withut Stu there for balance! Next I had to turn back. Again Stu held my hands for balance as I came off my toe edge, straightened and flattened the board, and swept round onto my toe edge....yey! First two turns completed and I still hadn't fallen over!! We did a few more runs, practising my turns and I started to feel a bit more confident. I wanted to try the turn from toe edge to heal edge on my own (I still didn't feel comfortable enough going from heal to toe edge on my own yet). We got to the top of the slope and rather than standing in front of me Stu stood to the side. Right, I ran through what I had to do in my head and off I went.....yey!!!! I did it all by myself! I was really quite chuffed! Stu came down and held my hands as I turned back round onto my toe edge and then let go so I could try again. Off I went again but this time I was off balance as I turned onto my heal edge and the board flew out from under my feet....ouch!!! I went crashing down onto my bum and it really hurt :0( , especially as the learner slope is right at the bottom of the mountain and is quite icey. My first fall!! Neveer mind, time to get up and try again. Stu helped me round onto my toe edge again and then I tried turning onto my heal edge by myself....yey, this time I did it ok again! Just need some more practise! A couple of runs later it was time to try turning from my heal edge onto my toe edge without Stu's help....oh dear! The problem was I was fine on my heal edge but I really struggled to control the board on my toe edge so when I turned onto it with a bit of speed behind me I really struggled to stop! We tried a couple of times and I did manage to turn round but I had trouble stopping at the end of the turn and I had to put my hands down to stop a few times. Stu thought I wasn't balancing my weight properly and said I needed to point the board further up the hill at the end of the turn. We kept practising and eventuallly I got there (a few more bumps and bruises in the process!) and by lunch time I could turn from both toe to heal, and heal to toe edge unaided, and fairly confidently and controlled. We headed up to the cafe for lunch and sat out on the balcony with our sandwiches, basking in the sunshine. It was such a beautiful day and we'd both really enjoyed this morning. After lunch I was keen to try going up the main chair to give one of the green runs a go. I went down the learner slope a couple more times after lunch just to make sure I could still turn ok, and then we made our way to the chair lift. I got on the lift without too many problems, it was a bit tricky as you have to stand sideways on to the chair rather than with your back to it, but it went ok, the main problem was going to be getting off! I watched nervously as we got closer and closer to the top, everything that could possibly go wrong running through my head. Stu tried to reassure me but I was pretty sure this was going to end in disaster! As we neared the top Stu lifted up the safety bar and we straightened our boards and got ready to get off. We hit the top and I stood up on my board, pushed away from the lift and as we went down the exit ramp.....I lost my balance and landed in a heap on the floor!! Again....ouch!! I managed to crawl out of the way of the people trying to get off the next lift and we made our way to the top of the green run. We sat at the top, strapped on our boards and off we went. I was quite surprised at how well the first run went. Inevitabley I hit the ground a couple of times but generally I felt I was turning pretty well, I handled the steeper parts better than I expected to, and it was only really on the flat bits, where you have to get up a bit more speed and where you have to keep the board straight so you're much more likely to catch an edge, that I was struggling. I felt quite pleased with myself when we got to the bottom and Stu said he was really impressed with the way I came down! Yey! We did another 3 or 4 runs before the lifts closed at 4. I only managed to get off the chair lift safely once all afternoon, every other time I collapsed in a heap half way down the exit ramp! But other than that the afternoon went really well. I was getting quite confident coming down the main green run, my turns were feeling much better and I didn't fall over at all on my last run. By the time we boarded the bus back to town I was feeling really pleased with my progress and I thought I'd had come a long way today. Stu also seemed to think I'd done well - I think he'd quite enjoyed being an instructor for the day and he didn't seem to get too bored meandering down the green run with me! We got home just before 6 and had a quick cup of tea before wandering up to see our landlords to tell them we're moving out on the 15th. They were really good about it (we did warn them that if Stu got the job we would only be in Queenstown for 8 weeks when we first moved in so I think they were kind of expecting it) and then we headed into town to do a bit of shopping and to buy some ski shuttle tickets. By the time we got there the snow centre was closed so we'd have to get our shuttle tickets another day, but on the way down I'd decided I wanted to snowboard for three days rather than two, so we popped into the Green Toad to add an extra day onto my snowboard rental. We headed to the Alpine Supermarket to get some groceries and then walked home to cook some dinner and watch some Will and Grace.