Don't do it

By JASON O'BRYAN  |  November 17, 2009

I don't know if there's anything so pathetic as watching snowboarders try to traverse flat distances. Every time I see them, I want to throw them table scraps. I want to give them a hug and tell them they're doing a good job. I want to send one dollar a day to a foundation that would buy them pencils and canned soup.

I ruminate on this as I speed past them, and then go bomb down the mountain a few times.

WALKING AROUND It's not just traversing the flats; it's any time snowboarders try to get around without giving up, throwing themselves to the ground, and taking off their board. You may look great on the slopes, but every other time you just look like a goober.

Watching snowboarders try to walk reminds me of this one time I saw this manatee. It was beached, and flailing its flippers trying to get back in the water, mooing and panting like a dying cow. If you took that awkward beast, balanced it in high heels, sent it tumbling down a flight of stairs, and were forced to listen to it spit out racial slurs with every moist and bruising thump, well, that manatee would still be ten-thousand times more graceful than any walking snowboarder I've ever seen.

BEGINNERS BEWARE Where do the bad snowboarders practice? On your way up the lift you can sometimes see them, arms extended like a ballerina, leaving run-wide arcs of powder punctuated by so many falls, the little snow craters probably spell something in Morse code. The effortless elegance of the great snowboarders is matched diametrically by the drunken, inner-ear-infected vertigo of the bad ones.

You may see the perfect carving of the adroit and think that you want a part of that, but you're ignoring the learning curve — i.e., five days of internal bleeding, followed by a lifetime of practice to get better. Don't come crying to me when you find yourself on the rope-pull, wondering why they don't make the bunny hill out of something softer than the ground.

And as you try to nail a toe turn and fall hard on your already tenderized ass, spitting the snow out of your mouth and drying your goggles as you watch a seven-year-old kid snowboard expertly past you, remind yourself that you did this because you thought it looked cool.

YOU'LL KILL YOURSELF Butt fractures are the best of it. A snowboard is all acrylic and fiberglass, and designed by very smart people to be fast. Which means it also has the power to deliver you expeditiously into the trunk of the nearest Lodgepole pine. All winter sports are dangerous for beginners. Starting out is something you try to survive, not enjoy, so why would you want to go back to that? Do I have to point you to Wikipedia's list of winter-sport deaths? Or merely remind you that Cher is now all by herself?

Just in case the ever-present threat of smashing your face on a tree isn't real enough, there are also areas for tricks, with half-pipes and rails and jumps, and which, unless you're a pro, is just about the dumbest place to snowboard ever. In a trick park, the novice snowboarder, as Darwin would put it, bears "the indelible stamp of his lowly origin" — if you want to participate in something that has skateboarding for a father, and comes from Utah, be my guest, but I'll be the one doing grown-up stuff.

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