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Snowboarding in Mammoth

I have decided to study the effects of repeated high-momentum impacts on the bones in my pelvis and lower back. My cousin, Rob, has graciously introduced me to a wonderful laboratory for those experiments, at Mammoth Mountain Ski/Snowboard Resort in central California.

Rob is my cousin, on my mother's side of the family. Since the Lisenko/Przybylski/Wrobleski/Borlik clan, though as numerous as grains of sand, mostly resides in the metropolis of South Bend, Indiana, Rob and I were somewhat unfamiliar with real mountains until moving to California. Now, perhaps due to the avid winter-sports enthusiasts that Rob works with, he has become quite enchanted with the snowboard.

Mammoth is a great place to learn how to snowboard, assuming that one is willing to pay the price. (And the price is hefty: in required driving time, in physical discomfort, and of course, in financial terms.) I had taken a introductory class last year, which lasted about half of a day, and found the instruction to be helpful in getting started. Nothing compares to practical experience, though, and Mammoth offered a number of quality beginner slopes.

This year, we drove up during the first weekend of February. The weather was pleasant, and the slopes had plenty of snow. The slopes were somewhat icy the first day (Saturday), but snow fell that evening, so there was some powder on Sunday morning. I stayed mostly on beginner (green) slopes, to improve my technique.

I am quite comfortable riding on the backside edge of the board, and am even willing to point the board downhill, to build up a nice dark head of velocity. But, I still don't have a lot of control when riding on the toe-side edge of the board, which greatly reduces the amount that I can do. I cannot slalom downhill, and have to use the "falling leaf" technique to get downhill under control. Still, I am pleased with my advancement in just two trips to that mountain.

I was amazed at the number of people at Mammoth, and at the number of people that are GOOD. Learning how to ski or snowboard takes time, effort, and equipment, which means: Free time and money. Are there really that many people out there with the time and money to pursue such a hobby? How do they manage to get to that level without causing serious bodily injury?

It is a heart-thumping thrill to fly down the mountain, though. Quick reflexes, concentration, training, and stamina are all required... It is fulfilling to meld mind and body together, to meet a challenge.



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