Hitting the Slopes
Gliding downhill on a board surrounded by a magical winter wonderland is a freedom unlike any other … but one that can require hours of practice to be mastered. Hitting the slopes on skis and snowboards is a favourite winter pastime for many and thankfully is becoming more affordable year on year with an every bigger selection of resorts and flights. Jerome had expressed a strong wish to learn to snowboard after our sand boarding adventures in the Sahara desert in Morocco.
Improving my Snowboarding Skills
Although I had been on ski trips with school, I never even got close to making it down the hill without being bruised when on skis, however, when I tried snowboarding a few years later as a teenager I was surprised by how easily I was able to slide towards the bottom of the mountains. Yet ever since those trips as a teenager I had never managed to improve my snowboarding skills much further.
Skiing and Snowboarding in Europe
Snowfall in Europe and the Alps had been scarce over the last few years and booking a ski or snowboard trip could have been a big disappointment. Growing up in Germany had the advantage that the slopes are never more than a long car journey away and so it was much easier to take advantage of good seasons. Hence, when a large amount of snow had fallen, Jerome and I impulsively decided to spend half term in Alpe di Suisi/Seiser Alm in the Dolomites, his Dad sadly had to work so could not join us.
The Right Fitting Snowboard is Important
It probably did not help that we had initially borrowed my brother’s snowboard, the two are similar height, but it was still probably too long for a beginner, like Jerome. He also was unsure about determining his lead foot, his stance on the board, which added to his insecurity. In the end we accepted the additional hire cost in order for the right fitting snowboard for his height, and that certainly improved his attempts.
Jerome had also been adamant that he did not want to join a group or formal snowboard lessons, but after trying a day without any proper instruction and just my encouragement he was still struggling. I am by far no pro when it comes to snowboarding although I know the basics, so we enquired about private snowboard lessons to get him moving. Luckily, we were able to book a slot the following afternoon with an instructor at a reasonable cost. Until then we tried to have fun on the training slope for small children and he also discovered that a snowboard could be used as a fast sledge, when seated between the bindings.
Surprisingly Fast Progress
The next day, Jerome and our snowboard instructor seemed to get on instantly and even the teacher was astounded how fast he progressed in just an hour. He even thought that Jerome would be fine without further any snowboard lessons, so maybe he was a natural after all. However, I felt that it would help Jerome to advance faster and build more confidence on the slope and so booked another session for the following day.
Being Overly Cautious
What really surprised me, was the fact that Jerome appeared to be over cautious, almost scared on the snowboard. Generally he does not hold back on any kind of adventure and can be to eager to accomplish difficult and at times dangerous challenges. Nevertheless he was held back by some fears, possibly of falling or getting out of control on the board. Admittedly I was quite content that he took care and not just raced downhill like many other crazy snowboarder and skiers do.
Start Learning Early!
Looking back on it now, I wish we had taken Jerome on a ski trip when he was much younger and learned to snowboard then, like riding a bike it somehow is easier for little ones. It is amazing to see the smallest kids on snowboards and skis. Jerome’s cousin started to snowboard at the age of four and even jumps in the snow park now and he is only six! Now I just have to get his Dad to take up snowboarding, he always boasts about skateboarding and surfing when he was younger so perhaps one is never too old to accept a new, albeit demanding but what can be an also extremely rewarding challenge.
Private or Group Lessons
I admit to being proud of Jerome, he rapidly learned a new skill and sport, and despite his frustrations at times, he never admitted defeat. Over the following days after the two snowboarding lessons, we had great fun hitting the slopes together and enjoyed the mesmerising scenery of snow-capped mountains and glistening snow. The private tuition one to one turned out to be incredibly effective and I certainly think it was more cost efficient for Jerome than a week of group instruction. Some children however enjoy the club atmosphere of the ski or snowboarding groups, so each method has virtues and it probably depends on the child which works better.
We Will Return for More Snowboarding Fun
I am not sure snowboarding will become an annual trip, although we did really enjoy our stay at Zallinger. We much prefer escaping to the warm sun and sea, especially during wintertime, however it would be a shame if Jerome would not nurture his talent for snowboarding.
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