Teaching Grandma To Snowboard

Four years ago, my wife and I decided to take snowboarding lessons. I tooka class with our 13-year-old granddaughter, Michelle. A few weeks later,Kathy, my wife and grandmother to our 23 grandchildren, saw that I was catchingon well enough to board along with her while she skied, so she elected tosign up for a boarding lesson. It was a mistake.

After falling, falling, falling and yes, falling, she quit, right in themiddle of the lesson — after, I might add, the instructor, admiring herfor her courageous effort, suggested that she stop, maybe try another time.She was sore all over, and black and blue where she had made repeated meetingswith the hard-packed snow.

From time to time, the grandkids would ask, “Grandma, when are you goingto try snowboarding again?” She generally answered them, “One of these days.”

“One of these days” hit several weeks ago when, one morning, she said, “I’mready to give snowboarding another try. Will you teach me?” Surprised bythe request, I said, “Sure.”

Knowing that when my wife of 43 years makes up her mind to do something,she sticks with it, I took her by Storm Riders, our local snowboard shop,and got her fitted in some warm, comfortable, free-style boots. Then we boughtsome bindings to go on a board that I had. I adjusted the bindings to fither new boots and established that she was, indeed, goofy footed. Her earliertry, on rented equipment, was set up regular-footed. There’s no way of knowingfor sure, but maybe that’s why she had so much trouble in that first lesson.

With the board attached to her right foot and her left foot loose, to pedalalong, I got her started. Next, we walked 100 yards up the bunny hill andpracticed slipping down, front side and then back side, as I walked along,with a hand on her jacket or holding her hands, making sure she didn’t fall.

Next, we got on the beginning chairlift. I got on four or five chairs aheadof her and was standing at the top, ready to help her off, assuring a no-falldismount from the chair. Then I walked on the downhill side of her all theway down. Again, no falls. She was encouraged. I suggested that we call ita day, a good day, and go home. The morning after, she was happy to reportthat she hadn’t a sore muscle on her body.

The next day, we worked on edge control and beginning turning. We spent nomore than two hours on the slope. We quit before she got too tired. Again,no falls.

Four runs down the beginner slope, concentrating on controlling speed andmaking smooth, slow? turns. I’m still walking and she’s still not falling.She’s ready to solo.

Another day, with my board attached, I cruised along with her, watching herslowly turning her way down the hill, and I do mean slow and in control.I had her practice stopping and sitting down, then getting back up.

I moved her off the bunny hill and onto intermediate terrain, where she continuedmaking smooth, controlled turns. Then, onto steeper slopes and more speed.

Kathy and I reminisced about how, 30 years ago at Mammoth Mountain, she learnedhow to ski so she could join our five kids on the slopes. Now here she was,wearing gloves with built-in wrist guards along with butt and knee pads,ready to go snowboarding with the grandkids.

Ken Hensler, a 60-something hard guy, snowboarded over 250 consecutive dayslast season. His pacemaker didn’t sputter once. Word to your grandmother.