Mike Walsh | Powder Report: Teaching a newbie how to hit the slopes

Full disclosure, I'm not actually sure I know how to ski or snowboard.

Don't get me wrong, I can ski and snowboard. I do the latter quite well, actually. However, knowing how to do something and actually doing it, when it comes to riding a piece of fiberglass down a slick surfaced hill can be quite different things.

I bring this up this week because for the second consecutive year I've taken on the role of instructor in my personal relationship. In my younger years, I was repulsed by the idea of dropping all that coin on a lift ticket to hang around and spend 30 minutes a run on the bunny slope. However, now that there's a diamond sitting on her finger and the venue deposit has been cashed, I figure I can devote a day or two of shredding to get my fiance back on the hill.

Enter a couple local heroes: The Garden and Bousquet. Name a more iconic duo, I'll wait.

I kid you not, last year I stood in line with her up at Okemo for 90 minutes one morning waiting to drop $100 to get fitted for a rental. When we finally got on the mountain, one run in and the Size 6 boots were crushing her and we had to go back. All that was left in the shop was a pair of men's Size 8, so she tripled up socks and went with it.

This year, the idea got floated that maybe we should look for a seasonal rental beforehand. Save the time in a brutal queue at some of the big mountains and pocket that dough for lift tickets and apres action.

The Garden, which sponsored previous Powder Report guest Nate Haust, has been pushing their rental program, so I wanted to give them a try.

They went into this ski season looking to dip their toe in the seasonal rental game. However, a month or so and three extra equipment orders in, that toe has been grabbed by Jaws and yanked into the shallows off Amity Island. The logic behind it is flawless. We wound up spending about $300 on a brand new Arbor board and brand new, personally sized Vans boots that are about a billion times steezier than the 15-year-old Original Sin I've been riding most of my life and my Liquid boots that are held together by Gorilla Glue — you can tell what I save all my cabbage for.

Bill hooked it up and with a fresh turquoise board and she tried on three sizes of unworn boots before landing on the perfect fit. Lady Tremaine was nowhere to be found. The equipment is hers to shred with as she sees fit until mid-April. The Garden is also offering $10 off daily rentals every Thursday for Bousquet's $10 Night Owl Special.

Now, for the shredding part: As I mentioned, never been a fan of trying to teach snowboarding, but I made an exception for my lady and I have to say, the thrill of having her complete a full run — from exiting the lift to simple S curves without biting it once — is about as close as I'll feel to Shaun White after an Olympic run. My only advice after you get the heel-side/toe-side basics is to adopt a fearlessness of speed and falling. Now, getting off the lift, you're on your own. I know 10-year boarding vets who still struggle with it.

Anyway, I doubled up at Bousquet this week, tasting some weekday gnar on a varied Monday that opened with some beautiful sun shining on the best courds I've seen this season. Around 3 p.m., though, we got a surprise dousing of fresh pow. As much as I hate New England's 60-degree rain followed up by 15-degree biting cold in 24-hours, you can't get courds and powder like that anywhere else.

Thursday night we got her back on the board at the Night Owl Special and given the random 50-degree day and 10 buck price tag, Bousquet was packed. We parked way out in Berkshire West lot, but the mountain did a great job keeping lift lines flowing and the snow was top-notch. The rain hammered mountains Friday, but keep an eye out for a fresh coating next week.

Weekly steeze

The questionable: Ethan Schoorlemmer of Mount Greylock Nordic wearing a T-shirt during a 14-degree race.

The bad: Me in head-to-toe base-layer camo bothering my fiance while she graded exams, continuously asking if she could see me.

The steeziest: Abby Cate Caproni rocking the choice purple and green racing suit at Week 1 of Berkshire County Alpine.

Until next time, keep your tips up and stay spoice!

Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.


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