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Lesson #2: If you lack essential tools, invent them

Tilt the board and it rips.

Lennon’s goal is to have you lean your entire body out over the snow as you rip perfect arcs. To help you position yourself, instructors hand you a plastic, 24-inch high, suitcase-shaped apparatus that works like an outrigger, supporting your weight while you tilt the snowboard to greater angles. Eventually, you switch to 6-inch gliders mounted as grip replacements on ski poles. Shaped like old-fashioned irons, they offer stable support when biting into deep turns.


Lennon: With skiing, as you go faster you get more tilt angle in the skis, and that enables you to nail the big turn. The same goes for snowboarding: you tilt the board and it rips. It also bends, bobbles, catches, and skips and you don’t have that inside leg for balance, like you do with skiing. So I made the inside leg. Using duct tape, plastic, and foam, I created a pair of shields and mounted them on my poles the small gliders. I went out the next morning and I couldn’t believe it. I put my right hand on the snow, tipped the board towards my hand, and ripped a right turn. I figured I was months away from that kind of turn years away in ski seasons.

Postcard from Vail

Paul Gotthelf, 43, owner of Gotthelf’s My Jeweler and Gotthelf Gallery.

I’ve got this ski pole with this plastic thing mounted on it. Boone calls it a glider. Says it will keep me from falling. He’s got me on parabolic [hourglass-shaped] skis, and he’s telling me to lean over so I’m touching the glider to the snow. Now he says my uphill leg is the enemy. Get it out of the way. I move my leg back. Wrong direction. I catch my edge and splatter. Next time, I move it forward. Its working! I’m nearly horizontal to the slope, and I’m arcing a pretty nice turn.

Boone says to feel the stance I used when I pushed my uphill leg forward. He says that’s my snowboard stance. Why didn’t you just tell me that? If I tell you, the secret is still mine, he says. If you find it for yourself, its yours.