One, two, three...four instructors, I make five. Four level threes, one level one, and a level six. Another day without work. What’s that, a split!? A return!? A panic ensues. “Hey Tyler, why don’t you go chat with our level one.”
“Sure thing Brian.”
My heart races as I scramble to compile an entire days plan with just a few moments of steps.
“How’s it going, I’m Tyler.”
“Hi Tyler, I’m Karen.”
“First day on a board?”
“No, I’ve been two other times.”
“Awesome! Are you comfortable with your heel edge?”
“How about your toe?”
“Not so much.”
“Well then, we’ll make that our goal.”
Just a few yards from the group, we settle on a small, but empty hill. We start with one foot strapped in and then progress to the not so magic carpet. It’s 10:30 am, and the morning sun shines bright on the adjacent peaks as I fantasize about having my camera.
“Okay, now, be sure to look up hill before you go, and always remember to stop with that heel edge if you start feeling out of control.” I say to Karen, as we begin our first run.
The slope is short, only about one hundred feet or so, and after a few heelside runs, we’re ready for the adjacent lift.
“Remember to keep your weight balanced over the board, and control your direction by applying pressure to your front knee.”
“That’s it! Great job! Now try standing up a little taller”.
I check my phone, it’s only 11:15.
“Hey Karen, how ‘bout a short water break?”
On my way through the village I’m struck by a butte bathed in sunlight. A snowy path in the foreground and a dramatic range behind. Back to the hill I go.
“Your heel edge looks solid, now let’s tackle that toe.”
“With that same nice and balanced stance, I want you to imagine that you’re squishing a bug with the ball of your foot.”
“That’s it, a little more.”
“Okay great! Now stand up nice and tall”.
“Ouch, you okay?” “That one looked rough.”
I check my phone again, the clock has barely moved, but the light has shifted into the foreground.
“So this time, I want you to use nothing but your toe edge, and really focus on applying pressure to that front knee.”
“Your weight is still just a little too far back Karen, but you’ll get it.”
Part of me doubts that she will. On the chairlift, the sun bobs in and out of sight amongst the frosty pines.
“Here, watch how I let the mountain pull me toward the bottom.”
“Hey, not bad! You’re definitely making progress.” “One more run before lunch?”
Behind the locker room a group of instructors huddle around a grill filled with bruats. I eat the sides, and then cave in.
“Hey Karen, how was your lunch?”
“Awesome. Now let’s link some turns!”
“Okay, so from my toe side, I’m letting my board fall down the hill, as I rotate my head and open my shoulders to help bring that board around to my heel side.” “And remember, weight on your front knee.”
Karen reluctantly points the board straight, but then falls victim to an unbalanced stance.
“You’re close, but your weight is still a little too far back.”
“Imagine you’re at the start of a race, and you’re leaning into the line before the gun goes off.”
“That’s it, you’re turning!”
“Okay, now more of the same, but be sure to keep your weight on that front knee throughout the run.”
“A water break? Absolutely.” “Let’s meet back here at 2:35”.
I grab the Summit Daily, and flip through the headlines. It’s 2:33”
Across the crunchy snow I walk toward the once again dimly lit learners hill. To the west a valley of vibrant forest gives way to a dramatic round peak, and a pastel sky overhead. Intersecting jets pass over, I wonder what they see. I wonder where they’re going.
“Yeah, it was, but I think I’m done for the day.” Karen says in a tired, but satisfied tone.”
“Well no worries at all Karen. It was a pleasure teaching you today.”
“Thank you so much for the lesson, perhaps I’ll see you for another next week?”
“I’ll look forward to it.”
Karen slips me a 20, as we part ways. I’m on the clock for another hour, but I’m free to go. On the bus ride home, I recap the day. It was work for sure, and it was frustrating at times, but it wasn’t so bad. I made roughly $80 bucks, practiced switch riding, and met someone new. As far as jobs go, this one definitely isn’t bad, but as the light at times leaks through the forests, so does my desire to create. Will I ever get paid to pursue this desire? That’s not really the point. Tomorrow I’ll start from scratch with a new group.
"Zeotrope" Joep Beving