That’s right, Denver. Miss BeFit has officially made the transition from beach bum to snow bunny. This is someone who, before last weekend, couldn’t even walk on snow, let alone slide around on it on a slippery, neon-painted, giant tongue depressor. But, as I’ve left my surfboard behind on the east coast and the ocean is but a (not so) distant memory, it’s time to embrace these frozen precipitation-covered hills of Keystone and the fistfuls of fun that come with them.
The days leading up to my first lesson were filled with genuine stoked-ness, until one too many people told me to beware the ski lift, and my coworker told me that Brad would for sure dump me when he witnessed my snowboarding skills. Frankly, I was more worried about the mountain breaking me than getting broken up with. The morning of, I layered up with all kinds of long johns, my brand new coat and sweet red pants, feeling not too sure about how I would do with all this extra bulk, as I’m used to board sports in bikinis. But, when we hopped off the gondola at the top of the runs at Keystone, the wind whipping snowflakes across our faces was enough to make me regret stopping short of pulling a Ralphie straight out of A Christmas Story—with so many clothes on, he can’t put his arms down.
I struggled to pull on my two pairs of loaner gloves, which were about a bajillion times too big, and then realized I had forgotten to zip up my jacket. I was sweating already. We made our way to the bunny slope and plunked down on the ground, while I watched other beginners either falling face-first on to the snow or high five-ing their instructor after the mastering of a new skill. I finally strapped my boots to my board, clumsily with my huge gloves and tried to stand up longer and more awkwardly than Bambi. After my first run, with my fellow schooling me in the basics of how to turn, brake and keep my weight on my front foot, I was hooked.
The magic carpet was the most tiring part of the run and it made my standing foot absolutely exhausted. I caught my board on the side of a snow mound at the top of the ol’ MC, and I flung my arms out to the attendant.
“There’s a learning curve over here,” he said. “Eeeeeeeverybody falls at first.”
I started to get more comfortable my second run down, and I tried to get me to lean forward on my left foot to go into a toeside turn to the right, but my left foot was not having it. I never knew an extremity of mine to have a mind of its own, and a stubborn one at that.
After one speedy little segment, where my form was spot on and I covered a bit of distance, I panicked and turned my board so I was facing straight downhill. Instead of digging my heels for a brake, I tipped my toes and flew in the air, straight onto my chest and face with my legs and board bending my spine into a solid U. I heard Brad’s, “WwwhAA!” and I remembered the time I hit the water that hard while wakeboarding once and how my neck had ached the same way. I lifted my head and thanked sweet baby Jesus that I could. Brad and I looked at each other and lost it because we both knew how ridiculous it looked.
“I wish I could just steer you with ropes, like those kids, to make you do turns,” said Brad.
I looked at him sideways. “Well, sure, but kids on leashes really bum me out,” I said. I really hope he was kidding.
Brad decided I was ready to take the bunny slope down to the left toward the ski lift after my next run, so I made it my goal to learn the toeside turn on my fourth run. I kept turning left, whether I wanted to or not, but then for some reason, my legs listened to me, and I brushed my glove across the snow like I would drag my hand through the face of a wave. In an effort to change directions, I dug my heels before I had shifted my weight to my left foot and I flipped spectacularly onto my back. In a moment of blinding white pain, I thought I had shattered my ass. There would never be a bruise like the one forming on my left cheek right at that moment, I was sure of it. Dark side of the moon, indeed.
I managed to pull it together and the rest of the run to the lift was me by myself, my boo drifting easily behind me, and I hopped on our chair feeling invigorated. And then, I realized I had to get off. The unload zone was fast approaching, my heart was pounding, my board touched the lip of the ramp and then I was gripping Brad’s hand and we rode to the bottom—without falling! This apparently meant I was ready for a real live slope, so I was led to the River Run trail.
I’d love to say that I perfected toeside and that I swooshed gracefully down the mountain in no time. What actually happened is that I got real good at heelside left turns, braking, chewing on my frozen solid hair and the falling leaf, which is a lot of side to side action and a lot of quads. We stopped halfway down because I “needed a rest.” Actually, I was just so over this damn sport and I wanted a beer, so I needed to pout for a second.
“Kailey, you’re so close to getting it,” said Brad, the blue knitted tassels of his hat caked in snow. “It’s going to click so soon, and you’re just going to get it.”
I sighed and he pulled me up by the fingertips of my gloves. I didn’t exactly get the toeside turn, but I could feel it coming before I would panic and bail. At one point, I had the brilliant idea that Brad should ride in front of me, holding my hands, and slowly guide me through a turn. I came at him with way too much speed and knocked him flat on his back with shin going straight across his board. I didn’t really hear anything he said for a couple minutes after that, because I was trying not to cry. I don’t mean to sound like a wuss, but mother fuck, it hurt.
Finally, finally we made it to the bottom. We unstrapped and I felt every muscle in my body wiggle like Jell-O with every step I took. We beelined it for the bar, and my friend Ashley jumped up from the table she was sharing with her guy and some friends outside to give me a hug while I pulled off my gloves.
“Nice wrist guards,” she said.
Five pitchers of PBR later, we were all giddy and ready to curl up in down comforters for the night. I looked around at my friends’ wind-chapped faces, the snow still falling from the sky and I felt the warm exhaustion in my muscles and the dull throb in my ass and shin. I miss the ocean that is so far away, but this is a pretty damn good substitute.