Snowboarding 101

Where? St Martin de Belleville, The Alps, France

What? Snowboarding 101

French Alps snow landscape

The stunning venue for my workout.


So last week I found myself in The Alps nannying. Having always wanted to give snowboarding a go I booked myself a lesson with the ESF – Ecole Ski France on my morning off. I was booked in with Brigitte for a one to one; however when I rocked up the next day with my gear in tow the iconic ESF red jumpsuit that walked towards me had a lot more stubble than any Brigitte I’d ever met.

Orange snowboard

Lying in wait for my instructor with my Salomon board.

Adrian got me straight on the board in front of the Apres ski bar to provide the togged up customers with some entertainment. After getting me to do a few small moving jumps he decided I was ready for the nursery slopes. I was extremely grateful that my 4 charges had graduated off this slope the previous day so I would not be subjected to the incredulity of 4 and 7 years olds who could not comprehend a ‘grown up’ being worse than them and crucially more scared.

Once I had semi- successfully navigated the ‘travelator’ (with my rented board emitting painful sounds as its nose was sheared slowly all the way up against the metal at the edge of the belt.) Adrian taught me to ‘Stand like a boy peeing.’ As this was the apparent key to taming the heavy frost spatula my feet were attached to. I had always thought snowboarders had more ‘attitude’ than skiers, now it became clear this was in fact just bad posture for practical reasons.

Having recently acquired a GoPro Hero 3 in the sales I considered it my duty to pop it on a chest mount to record any bone breaking or clumsy falls for posterity. Now for those unfamiliar with the GoPro accessories this ‘chesty’ as it is so colloquially branded films you from the waist down thus keeping track of your footwork. Or in my unfortunate case my unzipped ski trouser clad crotch. There are few times in your life when discovering your fly is undone is that monumentally embarrassing, it can usually be remedied and laughed off with ease. Not so much when you have 25 minutes of footage focused on your apparel mishap, with a tiny circular zipper tag poking out in a surprisingly indecent manner.

When I subsequently fell backwards down the mountain and my camera smacked me in the mouth splitting my lip open I could only take this as a karmic reprimand for daring to film my first attempts on the board. Unattractive facial haemorrhage aside, snowboarding was remarkably fun.

After an hour and a half of sweating away in far too many clothes for the surprisingly mild day my instructor left me to my own devices. Feet cramping from practicing my front side descent I decided to push on. I wiped out a small Russian child 5 minutes later. She was fine. My dignity wasn’t.

St Martin de Belleville

St Martin in the evening.

Crucifix architecture in france

A beautiful view from the town’s church.


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