K-Phresh Shreds the Utah Gnar

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An advanced RAMP deck helped Karamea slice through the fresh pow and chill temperatures with ease. Photo: Jake Vivori

The last thing I expected when I started working at SLUG was to write anything about snowboarding, let alone to actually learn how to snowboard. I am a desert rat from a Polynesian family—I wasn’t exactly bred for the cold. One thing I discovered upon moving to Salt Lake was that winter ultimately sucks and I hate it. But after noticing how excited my friends get when it snows each winter, I decided that learning to snowboard might give me a reason to want to “pray for snow” right along with them.
My adventure in learning to snowboard began with a search for my board. Keeping it local, I went straight to RAMP Sports, a ski and snowboard company who handmakes their products right here in Utah. Based out of Park City, I had heard many positive things about them—like their sustainable/environmentally friendly production processes—and knew they would not let me down. I picked out the Sagebrush Advanced/All Mtn. Board to get me started. Obviously, I am not an advanced rider, but I figured the mentality of learning on a board made for someone with more skill might actually make me better!

The day my board showed up was like Christmas. The FedEx man carried in a black bag with RAMP across the top, and I was in love before I even unzipped it. Unwrapping the board, with its bright-green sagebrush print on the top and sleek, black bottom, made me anxious to jump on it and get started. That night, I had fellow SLUG staffer Mike Brown take me to Salty Peaks to show me what else I needed. I had no idea there were multiple styles of boots, gloves, bindings and whatever the hell else I ended up getting. Luckily, the peeps at Salty’s know their stuff, and had me set up and ready to go in no time. Over the next few days, the gear sat on my floor, basically taunting me. I knew I would have to figure out how to get it all on and off by my myself, so I strapped myself into my board a few times, successfully doing up and undoing the bindings without getting stuck.

Then it was time to hit the slopes … I enrolled in a couple of lessons at Brighton to get me started. I had heard plenty of good things about the Brighton Ski and Snowboard School and knew that was the best place to start. I showed up at Brighton early one Sunday, completely clueless about what I was doing. Spock, the Assistant Director of the Ski School, greeted me and got me all taken care of. He even let me borrow his gloves for the lesson because I managed to leave mine behind.

Between the two lessons I took, I learned how to fall without breaking my wrist, successfully get on and off the lift without being run over by the chair, turn heel and toe side in order to stop, learned how to make slow, wide S-curves, and managed to master the art that is “falling leaf.” Both of my instructors, Alisa and David, were extremely patient, riding next to me to make sure I didn’t bomb the hill those first few times, and giving me great tips and tricks along the way. David commented that my advanced board, with its rocker tip and tail, was probably helping me get the hang of things … just like I knew it would.

Over the next few weeks, I put those skills to use by venturing out in some of the most extreme conditions I have ever been in. I spent a day at Brianhead in the middle of a small snowstorm, experiencing my first “fresh pow.” I rode to the top of one of the advanced runs with my brother, and like all good brothers, he told me to meet him at the bottom and took off. I managed to get stuck in the powder a few times, and had to unstrap from my board to get out. But by the end of the first run, I realized how much fun I was having and immediately got back on the lift to do it all again.

The fresh pow adventure was followed by a freezing adventure at Brighton a couple weeks later. I arrived to a balmy zero degrees and blue skies. With three extra layers on, I spent the day exploring the Majestic side of Brighton, doing my best to stay in the sunny parts of the mountain to keep from turning into an ice cube. At one point, I ended up stuck, and my only option was to either unstrap or head down a previously ridden path through the trees. Being the adventurous person I am, I picked the tree path and accidentally ended up going off my first jump. It was more like a little bump in the path, but I’m pretty sure I let out a little “woo-hoo!” going over it.

By the time I was done, my hair was white and frozen and my face was numb, but I had successfully braved the weather and actually enjoyed it. My adventure in learning to snowboard is far from over, but thanks to my pals at RAMP and Brighton Snow School, I now have a reason to at least appreciate the snow. The cold, never, but through this, I have also perfected the art of layering. It’s a dream. See you in the halfpipe, yo.