Of Concrete and Confidence

ben kindlon

Arapahoe Basin blasted off the 2013-14 snowboard season as it opened its lifts at 8:30 a.m. last Sunday.  Bear Mountain in San Bernandido, Cal. got a bit of snow too, enough to allow for some rail set-ups even.

With these mountains starting up their season, you know what that means for us over here on the East Coast: pretty much nothing.

Despite the lack of snow, I’m working to increase my capabilities on the shred-sled for when the time comes. How? Skateboarding.

Skateboarding is one of the most beneficial practices to keep you on your game during the snowless off-season.

Although each has its own perks and challenges, practice in one board sport almost always improves your skills in another.  A great deal of snowboarding’s current style is inspired by modern skateboarding maneuvers, lines and techniques. In the park, I tend to ride like I’m skating. When I’m in powder I aim to ride like I’m surfing.

Skating keeps your board-sport muscles strong.  Those first couple of weeks back, you don’t want to feel like a weekend warrior whose legs get jellied after only a few hours of riding. And you definitely don’t want your unconditioned, weakened wrists snapping on the first fall. With an average of seven months sans snow, it’s practically essential for us Eastern boarders to skate during the offseason in order to maintain the same physical prowess that we attain by the end of each snowboarding season.

The real name of the game though, is confidence. Keeping mentally strong and secure with your feet on a board is just as important as maintaining a high level of physical dexterity.

Confidence has always been my biggest problem. Since snapping my tailbone when I was a youngin,’ I haven’t allowed myself to forget and move on. Even with skating, I’ll get a nasty shiner and let it put me off trying new tricks. This is the biggest mistake you can make as a rider.

Trust your skills, and go big.  Insecurity, and especially half-attempting a trick, is usually what gets people hurt. If you’re headed off the lip of a jump or hopping onto a rail, you’ve got to trust your body to do what it knows. Second-guessing only leads to disaster.

We’ve all seen it.  Homie goes for a 60-foot jump and makes the gaffed speed-check, leading to their casing the landing.  The action is understandable.  High speeds and high winds are scary stuff and tend to make those less comfortable or inexperienced under those conditions to want to slow down.  But a cased air, as opposed to making it to the down-ramped landing, is only going to leave you wishing you had kept that speed up.  Falling or sliding down a landing ramp is significantly less dangerous than airing to flat or to the landing’s knuckle.

I use skateboarding to up my level of commitment. Flip tricks scare me to my skivvies, and so I practice them everyday. By confronting those fears I’ve started to overcome them, expanding my circle of comfort and overall capabilities in doing so. My Norwegian pseudo-brother, Brede “Ace” De Leon, told me “I never do anything by halves.”

In life, and in particular regarding what you love, you’ve got to put in all of what you have to offer.

Performing at half your ability is cheap and unfulfilling.  Doing anything in halves is a dangerous practice.

Especially when you do 180s, because that’s going to end in a face plant.