• 05 . 01 . 05
  • Snowboarding in Japan, and I didn’t even kill myself!

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Snow Patrol

While strapping half an ironing board to my feet and falling down a hill weren’t high on my list of priorities in Japan, I’m incredibly glad that I listened to friends’ advice and went snowboarding. Aside from the pain, which comes and goes, that was just a fantastic couple of days.

We were staying in Hakuba in Nagano, site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, at a small lodge called Snowbeds, which was really friendly and highly recommended. Both days followed the same format; wake up early, go snowboarding, fall over a few times, eat some lunch, more boarding/falling over, bus home, onsen, beer, cards and bed. What’s not to enjoy?

This was the first time I’d been snowboarding, and given my previous prowess on the slopes with skis (one time, one injury – thanks a lot, Norway!), I was expecting severe consequences for my daring. As it turned out, though falling made up a large part of the two days, it was actually fun and, if I ignored the pain in my hands from picking myself up so many times, the brief moments of almost-speed on the nearly-horizontal green slopes before the inevitable downfall were exhilarating.

We went to two different slopes – HappoOne, the home of the Olympic downhill on the 3rd and Iwatake, a gentler hill on the 4th. Iwatake was cool as it had green runs all the way down from the top of the mountain, which gave me long chances to practice basic carving. The second day was particularly fun because the majority of it was spent inside a cloud. In a snowstorm. With visibility down to about 8 metres there could potentially have been some accidents, but thankfully I was far too busy falling over in slow-motion to be worried about hitting other people. By the end of the second day, I hadmanaged to perfect the deliberate ‘bail’, when faced with unguarded precipices and families I couldn’t steer through. This at least gave me the feeling of being in control and let me convince myself that I could have kept going if I hadn’t ‘deliberately’ fallen over. At least I think I fooled the snow-kids…

Boarding is definitely something I’m going to have a go at again. I’ve almost forgotten the pain now and hope that tomorrow morning I’ll even be able to get out of bed without turning onto my face (that’s ‘toe-side’) first. The season here lasts well into March, so hopefully I’ll get another chance soon.

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