Asahikawa American English Conversation School
I first tried snowboarding here in Asahikawa, in December of 1994. My American friend, Brian Smith had been urging me to do so since the year before, when he first tried it. He liked it so much that he couldn乫t talk about anything else. He and I had been mountain biking partners since 1990 when we first met here in Asahikawa so, he finally talked me into giving snowboarding a try.
I had never even thought about learning how to ski nor had I ever ridden on a chair lift before. But snowboarding appealed to me because it looks a lot like surfboarding, and I had done a little bit of that when I lived in Hawaii and on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima 乮棸墿搰乯.
I loved surfing but I was never any good at it. Surfing requires a lot of body strength and is very difficult to learn. The main reason it is so difficult, is because the ocean waves are always in motion. By contrast, the slopes of a snowy mountain are always stationary, and the angle of the slope is easy to determine. With surfboarding, the angle of the slope of the wave, is constantly changing and it is difficult to learn how to find your balance, and get into the groove. Or better yet, 乪get inside the green room乫 as the professional surfers say.
The first time I went to learn how to snowboard, I thought I had made a big mistake. I could hardly even stand up on the board when it was stationary, much less when it was moving. As a result, I fell down every time I tried to stand up and ride. Falling down was painful enough but the real suffering started the morning of the day after the snowboarding lesson. Every muscle in my body, and I mean every muscle was extremely sore. Even getting out of bed the next morning was excruciatingly painful.
The reason for this horrible muscle soreness was the fact that every time I fell down, I would have to get back up and try again. It was because of this getting up again and again, that I was required to use muscles in my body that hadn乫t been used in years. Basically, it was the equivalent of doing dozens and dozens of push-ups and sit-ups from extremely awkward positions.
This pattern of constantly falling down and getting back up again, continued during the second and third lessons as well. I still couldn乫t find my balance on the snowboard. Finally, on the fourth outing, I was able to ride about 100 meters before I fell down. 乬Eureka乭 I shouted. 乬I think I乫ve got the hang of it now乭. And I did.
From that day on, I gradually learned how to ride for longer periods of time. I had discovered the thrill and excitement of surfing on the snow. It was much more interesting than I had expected it to be. Every ride down from the top of the mountain was a new challenge. I was hooked.
Now when I go snowboarding, it is very rare for me to fall down even once during my time on the slopes. Since I don乫t fall down very much, I don乫t have the muscle soreness that I experienced when I first started learning how to do it. I am very glad now, that I didn乫t quit when the going was rough.
There are several different styles of snowboarding, but the way I ride the board can best be classified as free-riding. As the name implies, free riding means going in any direction that appeals to you at the moment. The basic style of riding is to look over the slopes in front of you and determine a course of travel. Once you have decided on the course for the current run, you buckle up your bindings and set off down the hill.
As any skier knows, there are many possibilities for different snow conditions on the mountain. Most of the ski slopes in and around Asahikawa are machine groomed in the mornings. This is good because it will flatten out all of the bumpy spots on the hill from the previous day. However, if it doesn乫t snow again during the afternoon or evening, the slopes can get very hard and icy. This is not very suitable for a free riding snowboarder like me.
The best conditions, as far as I乫m concerned, is to have a big snow storm in the afternoon, dumping at least 20 or 30 centimeters of fresh powder snow on the slopes. Then when the storm is over, I can go to the ski ground during the early evening, or even after dark and cruise through the fluffy crystalline clouds of powder heaven.
Riding through fresh powder snow on a big snowboard is ecstasy. If you haven乫t tried it, you can乫t really image what it乫s like. It乫s similar to riding a bicycle in that once you learn how to balance yourself and ride without effort, you can choose your direction of travel and stop easily anytime you want to. But it乫s much different from a bicycle in that, snowboarding takes even less effort than cycling. I mean, think about it for a minute. When you乫re riding a bicycle, you have to peddle hard to climb the hills. This is the most physically demanding aspect of riding a bicycle. On the other hand, the most physically demanding aspect of riding a snowboard is cruising down a hill. What could be easier?
The only time I break a sweat snowboarding is when I challenge a really steep slope that is covered in virgin powder snow. Don乫t get me wrong, riding in that really deep stuff is powder heaven, but getting up and running again if you fall down is a real workout.
You know what they say, 乪if you乫re NOT making mistakes, you're NOT improving乫乧乧 Yeah, well that乫s true but, at my age, falling down a lot is not a viable option. Also, there are few opportunities for me to go to the larger mountains farther away from the city and challenge the really big powder snow. I just don乫t have enough time to get away and do it. As a result, I usually end up going to Santa Present Park for the 乬nighter.乭
Santa Present Park is not the best ski ground I乫ve ever been to but it乫s only 7 kilometers away from my abode and it乫s certainly big enough to have a reasonably good time. Unfortunately, I only have time to go carve the hillside about 10 or 12 times a season. I乫m just too busy with my work to get away any more often than that.
Pippu, Kamui Ski Links, Canmore Ski Village and Inosawa are the other places I have ridden. I think I like Pippu the best. Especially now with the brand new Hot Spring Resort Hotel on location. Kamui Ski Links is the biggest mountain I have ridden on but they don乫t have a nighter and it乫s always very crowded on the weekends. I hate crowded ski slopes. It interferes with my free-riding style. However, Kamui Ski Links does have the most powder snow.
Snowboarding can also be very dangerous, but so can skiing. The smartest thing to do whether you are skiing OR snowboarding OR riding a bicycle is to wear a helmet. A helmet is your best protection against serious injury.
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