After the Storm
(With apologies to Papa Hemingway)01
It was a sport, a new sport. It was a good sport, and it made Nick feel good. The sport had a lot of good feelings. There was snow, a lot of snow. The snow was good and cold. The cold made his nose run, but that was okay, because he felt good.
The board was strapped tightly to his feet, between his feet and the good, cold snow. His nose dripped twice onto the board as he tightened the buckles. The metal of the buckles was cold, but that was okay too, because his heavy gloves kept out the cold. The gloves were ripped where he had mistakenly dragged them on the snow. There was silver tape holding the gloves together where the rips were. The silver made him feel like an ice cube, in a cold silver tray. Nick shrugged deeper into his heavy, warm jacket. From within his cavernous jacket he looked out through frosted eyelashes at the cold landscape and the white, silvery snow.
The anticipation made him feel good, better than the warmth of his jacket, and the cold, clean whiteness of the snow. The good feeling was a lot like watching the sunrise on the ocean, and knowing that he was the first person that day to see the sun. It felt good to be a part of that. Nick looked again at the snow, at the mountain, at the board, and at the frozen drops from his nose. He laughed. It felt good to laugh. He laughed at nothing in particular, but it made him feel good.
The snow looked clean, like a piece of white paper with no words on it. It scared him a little to look at all that whiteness, like staring at an angry bull in a field of still white flowers. If the flowers moved, the bull would charge at him. Nick really didn’t want to disturb the bull, or the flowers, but the snow looked good. He would have to take a chance. He looked at the snow, the bull, the flowers, and the odds. The odds looked good, better than the bull and the flowers, but not better than the snow. Nick took a deep breath of the cold, sharp air, and pointed the board downhill. The flowers and the bull had gone elsewhere, leaving only white.
Nick felt like a pirate on a raiding party. It felt good to be pillaging. Pillaging from the clean snow was good. He was surrounded by white, in front of him, on either side of him. Behind him was not so white anymore. Behind him was a grey smear in the white snow. It grew bigger and bigger behind him, like a tidal wave towering over an open boat, struggling to reach it’s port. It was turbulent, and angry. The flowers began to move. The bull began to move too. The bull was mad.
The snow got steeper, and deeper. The deep snow surrounded him with its coldness. Nick still felt warm, despite the cold. His heart was beating faster inside his heavy jacket. He knew the bull was chasing him. He thought about the drops from his nose, frozen on the board, and he thought about the horns of the bull. If the bull gored him, would his blood freeze to the board?
The deep snow pulled at his feet, slowing him. He thought his armpits felt cold. Nick tried not to think about his armpits. He looked at the deep snow in front of him. It looked cold. He didn’t feel so warm anymore. His armpits were leaking. He was sweating from the movement, and his heavy jacket. His sweat was running down his ribs, making him feel colder. The snow pulled at his feet again, slowing him some more. Nick thought the sweat was moving faster than his board. He thought the bull was moving faster than his board, too.
Nick tried not to think so much about the bull, or his ribs. He tried to think about the board under his feet. He couldn’t see the board, the snow had covered it with it’s whiteness. He could feel the board under his feet, and it still felt good. The feeling of his board made him feel warmer. He thought more about his board, about his feet, and the way they felt.
The snow wasn’t so deep anymore, and his feet moved faster under the cold snow. His buckles felt secure. They didn’t feel too loose, as they sometimes did. They didn’t feel too tight either. That was good, because tight buckles hurt his feet. Nick didn’t like his feet to hurt. Hurt feet were almost as bad as loose buckles. Loose buckles were worse because they hurt his riding. He couldn’t ride when his buckles were loose. Not riding was worse than hurt feet. Knowing his buckles were right made him feel good. His riding felt good too, and that made him feel better.
Nick smiled. It was a warm smile. He was smiling at the snow, the mountain, his feet, and the board. He smiled because the mountain and the snow were letting him feel good. He would have smiled at the bull, too, but he had forgotten about the bull. He looked at the snow in front of him, at the way it seemed to pile up like a curling wave. He looked at the odds. The odds looked good. They looked real good. He smiled at the pile of snow, which was getting bigger.
Nick thought again about pillaging. He thought about how that would make him feel, pillaging the wave of snow. The wave was bigger now. The wave was bigger than he thought it was. This made him smile again. He pointed his board at the curl, and his feet followed. He was closer to the wave. The curl was much bigger. His smile was bigger too. His feet rose out of the snow. His board rose out of the snow too. There was no snow around his board anymore. There was air around his board where the snow had been. Nick had launched. Launching was good.
Nick wasn’t smiling anymore. He was howling. Howling was better than smiling. He howled hot air into the cold air around him. He howled until he had to suck in more cold air to howl again. He sucked in snow. The snow was everywhere. It filled the air in front of his face. It filled his nose. It filled his mouth. He was landing in the snow, and the snow rose up around him. He coughed out the snow so he could smile. He smiled because the snow was deep and the landing was good. It was good to land in deep snow. He felt warm again.
The bull was nowhere to be seen. The flowers were still again. There was more white in front of him. It was still cold, but he was warm and smiling. Nick was snowboarding. He was snowboarding and he was happy. It was good. Snowboarding was good.
An Invocation to Amuse
The purpose of this work
At the moment, this manual is designed to serve as reference material for those involved in teaching snowboarding, and those who would like to know more about the movements involved. The methodology involved is planned in accord with the laws of physics. These laws are applied to an object in motion on a nearly frictionless surface, as best as I understand them. This manual is not a be-all, end-all, but one evolved out of practical application. As the sport of snowboarding continues to change, so too will the requirements and materials of learning.
The presentation of information in this manual is sequential. As your ability and skills develop, new topics and exercises will be available to encourage further development. There is a noticeable technical bias towards the alpine style of riding, as I feel that style is more technically difficult. Alpine riding in rigid boots involves an economy of movement and more precision on the part of the rider. Though freestyle riding and the ‘new school’ influence have dominance in the retail world of snowboarding, it should be understood that in order to do tricks on a snowboard, you should first learn how to ride. The better you can ride, by manipulating the board and its design to your best advantage, the easier it will be to learn tricks, and the easier it will be to replicate them. The tricks you do, and their inspiration, should arise as an outgrowth of your riding ability, not as a goal in and of themself.
“To air is human; to land, divine.” If you can’t land and ride away from it, it doesn’t count.
The best excuse for nonconformity
“Snowboarding is more than stickers.”–Teri
Sooner or later, you will hear talk about style. Inevitably you will develop your own. Style appears to be an unusually personal and inviolate thing. Nobody thinks that you or anyone else should tamper with their style. Unfortunately, style is a really good way to excuse poor riding or inefficient movements. When thinking about style, and those movements which comprise your own style, consider this quote from St. Exupéry: “In anything at all, perfection is attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to be taken away.” How do the elements of your chosen style make you ride better. Is it possible that you could ride as well or better without some of these elements? As far as I can tell, style is something intangible about the way you ride which identifies you, yet which defies definition. Style is not a series of habitual and affectatious movements which visually set you apart.
01 In 1978, Harry’s Bar and American Grill, in Century City, California, organized an Imitation Hemingway Competition. The basic premise was ‘write one really good page of really bad Hemingway’. This went on for some eleven years, in which time twenty-five thousand entries were submitted. After reading through a compilation of winning parodies, I was sufficiently inspired to give it a go. This was the first of two attempts.