What I Learnt From… Snowboarding

There was a common theme across last week’s holiday for me, and that was trepidation.

That perhaps sounds odd given how much I was looking forward to going away and even to snowboarding.  However, from the moment I put the board on my feet on that first day, I was nervous.  It comes from my worry about hurting other people if I go out of control and hit someone.  When I have a wide, empty piste, I’m fine.  I’m not saying I don’t look after myself, but if there’s only me that’s going to get injured I’ll take some risks, which is what the sport is about – pushing limits.

I would wake up every morning and (after I’d remembered where I was) I’d be nervous about the day ahead.  Occasionally I’d drag my feet and have that extra cup of coffee with breakfast.

The thing is, though, that once I got going, once I found a slope I enjoyed and I had some momentum and some confidence, I was flying.  I was jumping off the lifts, I slowed down but didn’t always stop at the lip of slopes and I put turns in and I didn’t put turns in when I didn’t need to.  I was exhilarated and happy and confident and enjoying myself.

This is probably all a level of introspection that’s a little too much for a holiday, but it struck me how everything I described above is a reflection of my feelings towards a lot of things.  I’m someone who is quite happy to take a lot of the bad myself if it’s beneficial to do so for someone else.  I also back myself when I’m given a chance.

There’s always been a type of sports person for whom their personality and sheer will to win is seen as their greatest asset, even if that personality puts others at risk (within the rules of the sport).  A lot of examples I can think of are in motorsports with Senna and Schumacher being most obvious.

When I played competitive football regularly, I knew I wasn’t technically amazing but I was a hard worker and a thinker with a little bit of creativity.  That got me thinking about how much you can tell of people’s personalities by how they perform at seemingly innocuous parts of their lives.

It also taught me, as much as anything else especially over the last few years, how important it is to give someone or something a chance.  Sometimes it’s giving it a go that gives them a confidence to push through something that they didn’t think possible, and become better.


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