Eric Wang took to skiing easily so he figured, why not try snowboarding too – after all it looks “so cool.”
Getting on the slopes has been his way of adapting to Alberta’s weather, after growing up in the sub-tropical climate of Taiwan. His first taste of winter came in 2019 during a freak September blizzard, dubbed Snow-mageddon.
But that was just two short years ago and in the meantime, Wang, 26, has progressed to skiing single blacks. But recently a buddy convinced him snowboarding was where it’s and they met up to take a lesson together at WinSport.
The boarding lesson was an unexpected challenge that makes him laugh as he talks about it. “I thought it was not a big problem for me to snowboard because I know how to ski, but I was wrong.”
Yes, there were a couple of spills along the way, but Wang says his instructor Joan Huang was there for him the whole way. “Yeah, she was very nice…she tried to help me get better,” he said. “She was pushing me (nicely) to learn more snowboard skills and showing me different techniques to help me.
This is Huang’s first year teaching at WinSport, a kind of full-circle experience for the former skier and now all-in snowboarder, who came to Canada in 2012 – and took her first snowboarding lessons at WinSport. She loves meeting new people and is enjoying the private two-person lessons at WinSport this year because of Covid. This allows her to really focus on helping her students build their skills.
Having never skied in China, the mother of a teenage boy and girl, initially took up skiing but switched to boarding about four years ago. Some days you’ll find her in WinSport’s terrain park working on her gap jumps.
“Mom style” is how Huang refers to her teaching philosophy. “I have lots of experience teaching kids sports, being with them and guiding the, letting them enjoy the winter fun.”
Her two-hour lesson with Eric and a friend was typical of how she gets people to feel comfortable on a board and on a hill. She begins most of her lessons at the bottom of the hill, just letting her students get their balance and the feel of being on a single board. Sometimes she’ll use a hula hoop in case someone feels like they need something to hang onto.
As for Wang’s lesson, Huang says,” He was awesome. He and his friend are fast learners; they picked it up (balancing) so fast.”
Wang’s planning to get back out on the hill, but says he probably needs a couple more lessons before heading out on his own. “I think I will keep practising at WinSport,” because the hill is conveniently close to home and super easy for someone new to boarding.
His advice for anyone who wants to try snowboarding. “Just don’t be afraid of speed, sometimes people are scared once they speed up and try to stop but try to not be afraid.”
Wang’s getting over his fears and wants to be able to keep up with his friends who mostly snowboard with the motivation that the sport just “looks really cool.”
Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC), Head Skis and SnowSeekers are proud sponsors of #NewSKiAB, welcoming newcomers to Alberta’s slopes and promoting diversity in winter adventures.