Well, now some time has passed since the New Zealand trip and I figured I should write a post wrapping up the actual snowboarding. To say I was the most inexperienced rider in our group would be an understatement the likes of which I’m not about to make. I was the bottom of the barrel. Everyone else was good and confident and there I was, the slowest one, falling coming off the lift and all. And to think I thought I was decent going down there. After the first day I did feel more confident because I was doing boardslide spins going downhill and I had ollied at least a couple of times. As the days went on I got more comfortable with what Alain was instructing me on and getting all that down as what I was supposed to be doing while riding. The one thing I seemed to have a problem with was my arms. Generally it’s a good idea to have them out and use them to balance. Somewhere along the way I had picked up the bad habit of keeping them at my side where they do no good. It took a couple of days, but I finally broke myself of that habit without thinking of it. Another bad habit I had was not bending my knees enough. I can’t stress enough how much more control you have when your knees are bent. Thankfully my bindings have highbacks that allow you to push them forward so that they are pushing against the back of your boot. This causes you to have more forward lean and thus more bend in your knees. Dialing those in only took a day, but once I had them set I was rocking on the bent knees. I had never done any freestyle riding (terrain park with pipe, kickers, boxes and rails) before and getting to do some showed me how much more control over your board you learn by riding that way. You begin to see how learning freestyle helps with freeriding in that you take the natural bumps and jibs without batting an eye. On the href=“http://danimal.org/SenorTaco/2005/08/18”>snow cat day there were wind lips on a field as we came down. Thanks to hitting the much bigger kickers and rollers at href=“http://www.snowparknz.com/”>Snow Park I was totally ready for them and did ollies off of them. I’m pretty sure I would have just avoided them before the trip, but now I’ll be on the lookout for things not in the park. Speaking of park, I really want to go harder in the pipe now. After watching myself on video in the pipe I was horrified that I barely got to the halfway point on the wall. While I was riding I thought I was getting pretty well on up the wall, but the video analysis later that night shattered that myth. I feel like the last thing to work on is my personal confidence level. I was surprised at the steepness of slope I was hitting toward the end of the trip and then actually quite ashamed of my performance on one of the last days in Tahoe. We hit a steep icy slope and I did everything wrong on getting down. I won’t be making that mistake again thanks to Alain and Mani from href=“http://www.accesstrips.com”>Access Trips. So, I’ll work on my confidence and I’ll hit more park. I’ll also be willing to try much steeper and more difficult routes now. On our href=“http://danimal.org/SenorTaco/2005/08/19”>last day Alain and I were sitting in the lodge and he said that he was really happy with how far I had progressed. He also mentioned that he was surprised that every bit of instruction he gave me I picked up on right away (except, to me, the arms, but that was only a day or so, especially after seeing the video of me not using them). That made me feel better and want to push myself more. For those wanting to learn and have an awesome time traveling I can’t recommend href=“http://www.accesstrips.com/”>Access Trips more. The instructors (all pro at one point) were amazing, patient, friendly, and willing to work with you until you got it. They took questions, they explained clearly, and they were great people both on and off the hill. I’ll be keeping in touch with them as having them as friends is the least that I would want. I’ll get back to it this next season in Tahoe. For now I need to repair my board and make sure all my gear is in good shape and then riding will begin again in a few short months.