Üben am Mooslift | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

09 Feb. 2017 · Winter Activities
Carolin Schratt

From Skis to a Snowboard

The Experiment Snowboard Course with ex-champion Gotthard – one board, two rookies, one insight.

The Experiment Snowboard Course with ex-champion Gotthard – one board, two rookies, one insight.
Gotthard grabs me by the arm and walks in front of me. He reaches out his hands to me which I hold tightly like a castaway holding onto a lifebuoy. There is an age gap of more than 45 years between us. Gotthard has lived abroad for longer than me. He would completely outpace me on a ski tour. He now throws around words such as ‘backside’ and ‘frontside’ whilst I roll around on the slope like a beetle on its back. 

Whilst the two of them generally slide down the small slopes in a more or less elegant fashion, I sit at the top in the snow and look thoughtfully behind me. I am a little bit frustrated. No piste is too steep for me when I am on two skis. Am I afraid of falling over? Certainly not! After almost 30 years’ experience of dealing with the white stuff and having conquered a great many kilometres of pistes, this tiny slope had actually brought me to my knees. I find myself looking down on the Kinderland children’s area . 

Übungshang für Snowboarder | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

For the first time, my legs are buckled onto one board instead of two. My greatest concern before the snowboard course was that each foot would want to do its own thing. I now notice that my upper body is the area that wants to exert the most free will and this means that it wants to brake even when this is actually my legs’ job. So, now my hands, elbows, chin and chest are having a great time making contact with the snow. They are making some remarkable skid marks!

Shall I just lie here in the snow? No, this is not the answer! The snow is actually pretty wet today so I decide to get up again. Just as we start to brush off the snow, Gotthard announces that we are now going to change at the Moos lift. Our scepticism is written plainly all over our faces, ‘How on earth are we supposed to get on the lift?’ However, nothing ventured, nothing gained ... and if our extremely experienced teacher thinks we can manage it, then we need to trust his judgement. He reserves the right to make the decisions. We both manage to shakily make our way to the top and try to outshine the four year olds from the children’s ski class.

Snowboardlehrer Gotthard | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

During our final downhill runs, we have managed to make some progress with our carving techniques and can reign in our embittered vanity a little. When we say goodbye, we embrace each other like old friends. Gotthard’s good-natured eyes smile with satisfaction as we tell him enthusiastically that we want to make the pistes unsafe again with our snowboards the following day. Unsafe really is the most appropriate word in this case. The pistes are as hard as rock during the following days; even sliding over becomes a nail-biting affair which ends either on the knees or the tailbone. So we simply keep asking ourselves: what would Gotthard say now?

The euphoria of the previous day as we carved our way through the soft snow like knives through butter is still fresh in our minds. However, carving our way through the snow is out of the question now. When a wee nipper asks me whether I want any help, my motivation has nearly completely disappeared. We want to hang up our boots and walk away, however, we decide not to give up straight away. Our sense of determination has been awoken ... another one to two additional days on a course led by Gotthard means nothing now stands in the way of our careers as snowboarders. Mind you, this will only be our second career! Skis are very likely to remain well and truly in place.  

Ifen ski area | © Oberstdorf Kleinwalsertal mountain railways | Photographer: Jennifer Tautz

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