There we were at Lermoos, less than an hour and a half outside Munich, enjoying some truly amazing mountain vistas (seriously, the mountains around the Zugspitze are some of the most beautiful in the Alps) and, really, some excellent skiing for a small resort.
I grew up with this ski life, and yet I am grateful every single day that I have the privilege of being able to have such a life. The mountains bring some sort of unspeakable joy… and I can’t imagine ever living away from the mountains again. I did have some periods in my life that were dominated by beaches and tropical climes, but I hope and think those days are gone.
So first I have to thank my Dad for loving skiing so much and passing on that love to his kids, and both my parents for raising us as a “ski family.” Not everyone can be so lucky. Emily, for example, comes from Michigan, where ski opportunities are more limited. She really only came to this life after moving to Munich. And this is exactly why I wanted to interview her. Because while I’ve always loved skiing, and thus loved winter, she learned later to love skiing (or in her case, snowboarding), which completely changed her relationship with winter, and (at least in my humble opinion) made her life drastically better. We’ll see if she agrees:
So Emily, when did you learn to snowboard?
Oh, gosh. I think the first time I strapped a board to my feet was 10 years ago! But don't get the impression that I have been a dedicated snowboarder for that long of a time. Candidly, throughout the first twenty-some-odd years of my life, I never really 'felt the call' of the mountain as it related to skiing or snowboarding. I often thought the people going for 1 week vacations just to ski were absolutely insane! I just didn't understand the obsession. But once I moved to a city that had easy access to the mountains (Munich!) and had a pretty healthy ski culture, I too found myself being pulled into the insanity.
How hard was it to learn? A lot of people feel that it’s almost impossible to learn a new skill (well, at least to learn it well) as an adult. Do you think that’s true? It probably helped that you are a natural athlete.
Well, I can't say my initial approach to learning was the right one. Starting out I lived far away from the mountains, so I only managed to get to the Rocky Mountains once a year, at best. I took lessons, but nothing ever stuck because I wasn't practicing enough. Once I moved to Munich, I started to go to the mountains more (the beauty of being 45mins away from the Alps). But again, a few times a season just wasn't enough. It wasn't until I started dating a guy who loved snowboarding that I actually got serious about it. Not only did I want to learn so we could spend time together, but his energy and attitude about blissfully gliding through the mountains on a large piece of brightly colored fiberglass, was infectious. It drove me to learn! At first it was nice as he would give me pointers and remind me of the basics, but that only lasted for a few trips (insert first piece of advice). DON'T EXPECTED YOUR LOVED ONES TO BE YOUR INSTRUCTOR and to be patient with you! It just doesn't work that way. I mean, not unless your partner is a yoga instructor that lives in a constant world of zen, it's just not going to happen. So just let them go and enjoy the ride while you find a small bunny slope where you can practice controlling your speed and learning the basics.
So, as for learning the basics..... make sure to TAKE ONE LESSON (just one).... the basics is all you need. Then just PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Yes, it is hard.... at first. Anything you learn will be that way, at least at first. Just surrender yourself to this fact and you are one step closer to mastering it. Get out to the mountain as much as you can. Every weekend, if possible! You have to train your mind and body for this. You have to TRUST YOUR EQUIPMENT (mind) and learn balance (body). Eventually, you will see improvement. Little by little. But you have to be patient. Think of every fall as an opportunity to know the limits of your equipment and yourself. My (ex) boyfriend use to say, "If your not falling, your not PUSHING YOURSELF hard enough". As much as I hated to hear that, and especially after a rather painful fall on my tailbone, I realized how right he was. I only got better the more I pushed myself.
What do you love about snowboarding? Did you love it from the beginning?
What I love the most about snowboarding is that it allows me to be where I love (the mountains!) during the winter months. I can't say I loved it at first, nor the second, or third time I went. But I was desperate to be in the mountains and being active instead of being cooped up in my apartment, watching movies and being a sloth for 4 months.
If you need motivation to get off that couch, do one of two (or both) things - 1) MOVE TO A CITY/TOWN close to the mountains and/or 2) FIND A BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND that is obsessed with skiing/snowboarding/outdoor sports. I guarantee you will 'catch' the fever!
So was there a moment when it all just “clicked”?
Yes, I remember that moment so well! The hardest part about learning how to snowboard is how to shift your feet and weight to make & 'link' turns. Again, it takes some time but once you get it, you will experience a pretty crazy high! Make sure to scream out loud once you get it.... make a scene. You earned it!
Since then has snowboarding changed your life in a discernible way? If so, how?
Absolutely! In so many ways..... mentally & physically. It gives me freedom from the 'chains' of winter, keeping me sane and fit. Every time I go out, it makes me feel like the young, restless kid inside of me is pacified. And it has opened up my social circle.... spending time with my good friends (you, Cara!) and partaking in apres ski shenanigans. Nuf said.
Tell me more about your relationship with winter and with the mountains, and how this affects your life in Munich.
I used to look at the winter as a 4 month punishment that was given in order for me to fully appreciate the spring & summer when it came. No longer! Ever since learning how to 'board, I find that I am just as excited to to see snow fall as I am to see the first flowers bloom in summer. Crazy to say, I actually shed a tear or two when the ski season ends (yep, you read that right!). That's how much it has changed my life. Yep, I know. I became one of those insane people.
Will you ever leave me and Munich and the mountains? (you can’t, right? It’s too good a life?? Promise me! Promise me!) Okay, that last question was perhaps too much for the current conversation, and maybe this interview is a slight exercise in emotional blackmail because I don’t want to ever lose my ski buddy (a real risk when you live the expat life!). But as ski season winds down and we enjoy our last few days on the slopes this season, I’ll no doubt be sharing those experiences with Emily, and we will both be able to just look at each other across the white expanse of snow… and we won’t have to say anything.
Ha! At times I do get frustrated with Munich for reasons I won't elaborate, but deep down it really is a wonderful place for what it offers it's inhabitants. A happening city close to the mountains, full of culture & life. What more could a girl with an open mind & a snowboard want?
Indeed, learning how to snowboard is a right of passage. It gives you access to a sub-culture, forever drawing you to the call of the mountain, the swill of a hot chocolate & rum, the hypnotic beats of après and the glorious speed of the slopes. I'm utterly and totally addicted. I'm forever a snowboarder and forever your 'ski buddy'!