Snowboarding in Korea

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Last week I made the most of my holiday and High One Resort season pass. I am not a fan of waking up early unless there’s a cool reason to. I’ve got to say, I found it easier waking up at 03.40 am knowing I have a day of snowboarding ahead of me than the agonizing lazy process I face to drag myself out of bed at 07.45 on normal weekdays. I managed to go boarding 4 times in 8 days!

I bought my season pass in November- they usually have special offers for season passes in October and November. Mine cost 266,000 won (super sweet deal for ladies) which includes unlimited use between mid-December and beginning March as well as return bus travel from your town/city. Board and boot rental (08.30-17.00) cost 17,000 won on weekends and 13,000 won on weekdays. Compare that to European prices and it truly is an offer you can’t refuse!The booking system is all in Korean but once you’ve done it a couple of times, it is pretty easy to navigate. At the resort, you’ll need to hand over your ARC as deposit for your gear.

For eats you can buy traditional Korean food, Dominos Pizza and KFC OR pop down to the convenience store instead. I really like that you don’t get fleeced around every corner in this country. You can buy a new pair of gloves here for 15,000 won or buy a kimbap roll for 1,500 won- there’s no crazy western style inflation just because you happen to be at a resort. It’s the same if you go to a baseball/ football game here: you pay normal street prices for food, drinks and tickets. This is such a great idea because it makes outings like this accessible and affordable to most families, not just rich people!

I learnt snowboarding in Bulgaria 3 years ago. By the end of a bruising week I felt confident that I had the basics down. When I got back to London, I was so in love with boarding that I immediately bought a board and boots off gumtree. Sadly, I never got to use them but I  knew that I would cross paths with this great sport again.

I went to the premiere of The Art of Flight in London and didn’t even know who Travis Rice was! He just seemed so normal when he intro’d the film- you’d never have guessed what a legend he was, he just seemed so humble and chilled!  It’s still one of my favourite movies and soundtracks of all time. You should totally check it out. Everything I saw and read about boarding was simply inspiring.

Korea has loads of resorts and these guys just visited 14 resorts in 14 days! Japan is rumoured to be better for experienced skiers (longer runs, more snow) and boarders but since I’m a beginner Korea is perfect for me (and I saw plenty of runs marked “Expert only”!)

When I went boarding for the first time after my hiatus I obviously expected to fall. Which I did. A lot! However, my body seemed to remember what it had learnt on the graded icy baby slopes of Bansko and by the end of the day I pretty much back into the swing of things.

The boarders in Korea take fashion very seriously- everything is gansta and oversize (even the goggles). Of course, you get the couples who wear the same outfits and Konglish is everywhere (I saw a hoody branded “5 Koons”… yes, really. I’m pretty sure that Koreans don’t know that’s an offensive term). So many people seem to own their own gear- even novices who fall loads look totally bad ass.

One thing that struck me as different from Bulgaria is the different etiquette. In Bulgaria (and Europe I guess), you move off to the edge of the slope if you need to rest or wait for your friend. Not here! People check their phones, chat and hang out in the middle of the slope, man! It can be a bit annoying but you get used to it after a while. Also, high pressure hoses can be found everywhere in this country-  used to clean your shoes after hiking, a day on the beach and of course, after a day on the slopes. DON’T enter the building with your board caked in snow. It’s just not done.

Last week, I tried learning small tricks like tiny wheelies, mini ollies and butters – and found abc-of-snowboarding a very useful site. It was great building up experience in different conditions: icy, misty bad viz, snowing, howling winds, melty, slushy snow… The season is nearing its end. Sunday was very warm, the snow slushy and the hills surrounding the slopes were bare. I even saw green grass growing. BUT it was my favourite day- the zenith of my progress and performance so far. I felt extremely comfortable and I zipped down the mountains in no time. I felt like I was experiencing great flow- time flew by!

I will try to go up again once or twice before the season is over, but I fear that the snow will be gone in 2 weeks’ time. If that’s the case, I’m glad that I ended the season on a high note.

I can’t WAIT for next winter! In the meantime, I’m trying my best to resist the urge to buy a board and boots in the sales…

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