30-somethings learn to 'board

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Features editor Teri Vance works on a toe-side turn during a snowboard lesson at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Monday. Below left, Appeal crime reporter F.T Norton, left, and Vance listen to Heavenly Mountain Resort snowboard instructor Hamish Drummond of Auckland, New Zealand, as he talks about proper form.

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Features editor Teri Vance works on a toe-side turn during a snowboard lesson at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Monday. Below left, Appeal crime reporter F.T Norton, left, and Vance listen to Heavenly Mountain Resort snowboard instructor Hamish Drummond of Auckland, New Zealand, as he talks about proper form.

The first thing I asked our instructor was if two out-of-shape 30-somethings with little or no past experience could really learn to snowboard.

Hamish Drummond, our instructor at Heavenly Mountain Resort, laughed it off. He said people in their 70s can still learn.

Still, I was skeptical.

It wasn't the first time crime reporter F.T. Norton and I had tried learning a snow sport together. A few years ago, we took a skiing lesson as part of a media day at a Tahoe resort.

It was a miserable failure. Not only were the boots painful to the point of debilitating, but the instructor was boring to the point of agony - or maybe he just didn't appreciate our cynicism.

Either way, we left frustrated and not very good skiers.

But on Monday, we gave snowboarding a shot.

Although I was pretty sure it was going to be a repeat disaster, Hamish calmed my dread with his steady assurance.

He laughed at our bad jokes, listened to our overly dramatic stories, and when we'd say we just needed a minute before we got up from a fall, he'd wait while we sat moaning in the snow. As is always the case, one person catches on faster than the other. Surprisingly, that wasn't me.

Hamish would show us how to ride down a hill or how do a turn, and F.T. would just do it. I, on the other hand, would invent new ways to crash.

I concluded I'd have to end my longtime friendship with F.T., as we'd always bonded over the fact that we had no particular talent, but found pleasure in mocking those who did. She was leaving me behind.

However, Hamish would assure me that I just needed one practice run to create "muscle memory." He'd promise the second time would be better.

He was right. And just as I was getting discouraged, F.T. perfected the "scorpion" - which sounds cool, but is really when you fall so hard on your face that your feet flip up over your head, like a scorpion's tail. I had my friend back.

And with our new friend leading the way, we rode the lift to do our first run. I'd like to find out how far it really is because it seemed like 47 miles. We fell countless times - once, I was even applauded from skiers riding the chairlift - and ended up bruised and stiff.

Back at work, even answering the phone hurts. If I sit for long, or sit at all, standing back up is excrutiating.

So I sit here, staying as still as I can, daydreaming of trying it again.

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