Mountain Boarding – Lesson 4

Lesson four was rather amazing but my next session on the slopes went too fast and resulted in a crunched ankle.
We took lesson four at Haredown and just as my martial arts teaches me I decided to set some goals for our instructor Les. We had found that our first few lessons has been the same focusing on traversing the slopes with the toe and heel turns. I therefore wanted to know ;

  1. The Power Slide
  2. Rollers
  3. Haredown’s Blue Run

The Power Slide is the way one stops in Mountain Boarding we were shown it on our first few lessons. However we thought it was to stop by falling flat on your bottom. However learning to stand after the slide and even move to a switch stance is what we spent our time learning.

Next we focused on the Rollers. We were able to take them on slowly building up speed. Till I was able to do this;

The second hour of the class was focused on the top of the blue run at Haredown. Again building each roller up slowly. It was a real thrill to be able to do the run. It didn’t stick mind you and later when we were playing around on our own the conditions rather wet and warm I crashed like this;

Mountain Boarding ATBA International Series 2011 Round 2

The National Governing Body for Mountainboarding in the UK just held round 2 of it’s four part International Series. And awesome it was too.

By the time we arrived mid morning on 18th of June, The Edge entrance resembled a mini festival with most of the 80 participants having arrived the night before to camp onsite. Our friends from Haredown were in place and pointed us around camp.

The multi purpose site of The Edge is not deeply picturesque but is highly functional. Ideal for both border x and freestyle competition. It was designed by MBS Europe’s Ajay Watkins and is not stranger to hosting an event like this.

As The Edge is situated just outside Much Wenlock in Shropshire and due to my work with London 2012 Wenlock’s this became my must attend event of the summer. That’s right forget Ascot, Wimbledon or Glastonbury. Mountain Boarding International Series Round 2 is were it was at, this June.

The slalom run at The Edge is particularly steep. Walking down takes some effort. Out of the gate and there is a steep left bank, two massive rollers followed by a sharp right turn, steep descent down and a left turn into rollers so large that they would be more ideal for freestyling.

There are Juniors, Seniors, Masters and Pro categories as well as a ladies only category. 5 women entered the borderX ladies category and two heats were held. The first heat run was a messy affair with many of the riders falling at the first set of rollers. The first rider to pick herself up and get back on track had an advantage but eventually everyone finished.  Heat 2 for the ladies was a less stop start affair. The final for the ladies reverted with the ladies taking each other out in dramatic form. Emmeline Thrower took full advantage after her own wobble and raced to the finish for much deserved and enjoyed win.

One women entered the pro category. The inspirational Lisa McLernon, an integral part of the University of Plymouth‘s team. Lisa is easy to spot in her bright pink helmet.

The boys competition also had plenty of stacks and falls. Thankfully Paramedics and dedicated first aiders stepped in to sort out a slew of reporting injuries which included busted hip, broken arm, dislocated knee, split eye and concussion.
Scary, but don’t let that put you off. After all we are only half way through the season.

Hang on, What is Mountain Boarding Exactly ?

I told my house guest I was going Mountain Boarding and she asked what it entailed. I had to admit, I had no idea.

I still had no idea when my friends picked me up and we started our drive out of London. I imagined it would be a like Sandboarding and therefore Snowboarding. However slight panic set in when I was told the boards had wheels. Skateboarding especially down steep slopes was something I had long ago discounted as sensible. I calmed myself. After all there isn’t a mountain anywhere in England.

The first thing that struck me was how lovely the setting for our adventure was going to be. Haredown is a working farm set in lush Sussex Downs. Very much off the beaten track. We paid, padded up, petted the new born cows and got onto the nursery area.

Language for this sport is the same as Snowboarding or Skiing. The boards are less like skateboards and more like the boards Dave Cornwaith used to cross Australia. Longer, flatter and really stable. Like snowboards, straps keep you in place and next time I hope to have snowboarding bindings. Also I will wear a pair of skaterboi trainers, heavy duty Vans maybe. Although one of my mates did really well in walking boots.

Our lesson taught us to set off, turn and finally a bizarre form of stopping which is more like falling face forward or bottom first and jumping back up as quickly as possible. Lots of emphasis was placed on the experiencing the feeling. Much like other  Zen hippie sports such as surfing. Despite this Steve did an awesome job teaching. As did his assistants, all seasoned competitors.  I was surprised how quickly all three of us girls, three times older the average age of the rest of the boys on the hill, got to grips with the techniques.

Very quickly we were traversing the greens runs. This was my favorite part, riding down the slope, wind in the hair, carving up a turn, the sensation of skiing came flooding back. Which isn’t a surprise as this is a sport invented independently on several continents by off season snow boarders. What is a surprise is that despite long ago discounting boarding as a sport for me and the lack of local mountains, I may yet become a fully fledged mountain boarding addict.