Winter Reunion

Last week, I went snowboarding for the first time since 2012. Five years ago. Thinking about all the craziness in my life that has occurred since the last time I was on a board, I really didn’t know what to expect.

My friends from Thunderbird have taken a winter sports trip every year since graduating for an annual reunion now that we’re spread all around the country. For the past two years, I haven’t been able to join because I was on the opposite side of the world and then in the process of moving across the country for a new job. I was very excited to finally get to join them this year, but almost all of them are very experienced skiers and boarders, having lived most of their lives out west with some of the best mountains in the country just a quick trip up the highway.

The past two years, this crew had gone to Vail and Breckenridge, but this year we headed out to Park City, Utah. Park City really served us well for the sort of trip we were looking for. Only 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, it is very easily accessible. With two mountains and two different bases, Park City and Canyons, the resort offers a great balance of enough space to get away from the crowds while also not being too mammoth and complex to get oriented and find your way through either the town or the mountains.

We spent most of our time on the Canyons side for two reasons. First, the Airbnb that we fit all nine of us in was closer to the Canyons base with much more convenient commute and parking options. Second, we just happened to be there the same week as the Sundance Film Festival. While we may have had the opportunity to snap a selfie with a movie star, we decided it was far better to avoid the additional traffic that would be all over the town of Park City for the sake of getting early runs in before crowds arrived.

I was pleased to find that after a tailbone-bruising first morning, I started to get my board legs back under me, and the rest of the time went pretty smoothly. I’ve always told people who don’t have any experience on skis or a snowboard that learning to snowboard is far more painful than learning to ski. Because until you get a feel for the unfamiliar and unnatural sensation of sliding sideways down a mountain, you’re up and down on either your knees or butt the entire time. And the first few times you have to get off a chair lift will almost certainly be a disaster; just prepare yourself. Learning to snowboard is really not fun at all, but once you peak that crest and begin carving back and forth, you can pretty much go down any slope on the mountain. Skiing is the opposite; easier to learn in a day or two, far harder to master. As such, by the second day, I was able to follow my expert friends through the deeply powdered but steep black diamonds in a far corner of Canyons.

I wont say that I got back to the comfort level that I was at five years ago, having skied or boarded with my family every year since I was seven years old. But it did feel really great to prove to myself that  all it takes is a little practice and time to dust off the ice and snow and regain skills that haven’t been used in a half decade. I look forward to an even smoother trip next year.

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