Korea Winter 2023: Marked My History Point in Snowboarding

Having been living in Korea does allow me to get exposed to experiencing so many new challenges including skiing and snowboarding. I had my very first ski riding when I was in grad school, back in 2013, and to be honest – it was neither memorable nor fun. However, as someone who comes from a tropical land, I felt a little obligation of not wanting to waste such great opportunities, and ventured down the road of a gliding pair again a year after – still couldn’t find it enjoyable.

Getting into Snowboarding…

I took quite a long break from going on a snowy trip after graduation. Until the winter of 2016, I was introduced to another seasonal sport: snowboarding, which was acclaimed to be much fun by many of my peers. It was yet a game changer but somehow I found that this could be something I would do, other than hunting for a picture perfect place during the colder months in Korea. Perhaps, now that I’m thinking about it, I might have to throw in a lot of gratitude towards the struggling moments from my first few times of skiing. I have now become more familiar with the concept of rushing down the powdery slopes, and been able to be in better control of my own lower torso when I took a ride on a snowboard.

First Snowboard Play (2016)

Finding it Interesting Enough to Squander Money and Time on…

In 2018, when I started dating my now boyfriend who, astonishingly, is a snowboarding enthusiast, I decided to invest a little in the activity. I bought my first set of winter sportswear from one of our trips to Japan with a reasonable sale deal: a two-piece ski suit for about 50ish USD. Even though they are made for skiing, they have been sufficiently comfortable for a neophyte snowboarder at the time, such as myself.

Wearing the Snow Suits I Invested on

After switching to snowboarding, I felt that I have accomplished more compared to when I first began strapping on a pair of skis: I have fallen down a lot less and I have been able to cease my movement properly whenever I felt like. Yes! Those are what I considered an accomplishment. LOL. However, the level of exhilaration still wasn’t up to my anticipation. This was probably because I gave up too easily? Or was I too distracted to look forward to visiting other destinations during the trip? Perhaps all combined. It’s really all about where my mind was set off to.         

Looking back into many winters I have spent venturing through snowy and icy cold towns in Korea, all the stopovers for snowboarding were actually a by-product I always thought of as a bonus when traveling to a picturesque spot in the area. Numerous trips to the winter picture perfect locations were made up to include many notorious ski resorts as a stopover. But, somehow, I never elaborated about my experience in snowboarding, until now. Something is changing that makes me extremely thrilled, and I have to write this all down. Otherwise, my mind would figuratively implode with excitement, haha.

Winter of 2023: Game Changing…

This year, Tun and I started off our winter excursion with a night snowboarding at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon City in Gangwon Province. We opted for a 6-hour session spanning from 8pm. until 2 o’clock in the morning. We arrived at the ski house a tad late and as I was rushing down from our rented car, my boyfriend abruptly chuckled and said something that sounded like “take it easy, love, we are only an hour late and you won’t make it up to what we paid for anyway. Just like always…” There were more but I lost the rest. At first I laughed, too, at how accurate the statement was, but admittedly, later I started to get bothered by the fact that I had been squandering so much on what I can now call a ‘hobby’, without getting any better in this particular skill. That night, I relentlessly rolled up and down the snowy hills until the last minute of the course we purchased, baffling my boyfriend to the fullest. And to be honest, I was as surprised as he was.   

A week later, I tagged along with a group of friends on a day trip to ski at Elysian Gangchon Resort, another site for winter sports in Gangwon-do. I had a bad experience getting snowboard equipment at the resort’s renting facility considering it’s the peak season, but I’m not gonna go into it now. Maybe I will rant about the occasion later – in another blog entry? Anyhoo, this was, again, where I received another deck with a regular stance setting. To clarify to a non-boardsports player, a regular stance option is set for a player who rides with their left foot forward. It’s the position I was told that most snowboard riders do. The position I have been perceived to do. Still struggling very much every time I tried to do the turn and not to drop hard on my buttock, I finished the ride full time, very much up to what we spent the money on!  

I didn’t know what had gotten into my mind, because two weeks after the sporting day in Elysian, I bluntly organized another snowy trip to Pyeongchang, the county where the prestigious Winter Olympics was held in 2018. This time we dedicated two nights in snowboarding at two different grounds: Alpensia Ski Resort and Yongpyong Resort. One thing that surprised us very much was, this year, many ski resorts we have known of offering an overnight ski play didn’t run late until the wee hours as they used to. Most of them, including the two we visited, closed early before midnight (at 10:00pm. to be exact). Even so, we still opted for the option.

A Beautiful Mistake

Our first night selection at Alpensia began smoothly. It was on Friday and we almost had the ski house all to ourselves. I picked up a board and a pair of boots. They were in excellent conditions, perfectly fit and easily equipped. There was no waiting in tedious, long lines at lifting stations. I was humming happily on a lift ascending to the top of one of the beginner’s slopes. Then it hit me. As soon as we arrived at the tiny summit, I just realized that the staff at the rental office didn’t ask about my preference stance, which is a generic term a snowboarder’d get when using a rental service. He simply handed me the size of the equipment I requested, and apparently, I failed to check the bindings position. Now, I was about to glide on a snowboard – arranged with a goofy stance. As anybody can guess, another snowboard standing position is set oppositely to the regular: right foot forward. And a snowboard rider who installs the bindings this way is goofy footed, which I had never considered being one before. But what’d been done was done… 

Even if a little anxiety was rushing, I slid down the hill with my anterior facing left. Then a wonderful thing happened. As I was accelerating down, halfway, a fellow rookie skier suddenly swooped in a way ahead and collapsed. My body automatically turned facing against the slope, and by means of toe edges of both feet, I naturally shifted the direction avoiding the sinking skier. All of the sudden, my mind comprehended the mechanism as if there were a switch on the back of my neck, which was now clicked on. Besides balancing, I also learnt to stabilize my movement! I felt more comfortable with my right foot closer to the nose (front) of the board. It felt so right to have my left foot power and control steering. I wondered why it took me so long to understand my riding style. Probably because I had been forcing myself so hard into doing what (I thought) most people do without even considering the possibility of a different footedness. Well, I am a goofy rider after all!

Me taking a break to text my parent letting them know that I am a goofy footed snowboarder, LOL

That night was a big night for me. Thanks to all I had been through. Whether for the consecutive rounds of snowboarding I had taken part in this winter or the goofy setting board that was unintentionally given to me, thank you. They made the night special. And for the first time, I finally felt exhilarated to the fullest by snowboarding!

Let the Fun Continue

After the night, it was great to know that I had another whole day saved up only for snowboarding. This time we let the fun continue at Yongpyong Resort located in the adjacent area, it takes only a five minute drive from Alpensia Resort. Although the Saturday crowd seemed to kill a little bit of fun, the vastness and an abundance of good slopes were very impressive, making our first time at the resort pleasingly enjoyable. And it was at the Yongpyong Resort that my freshly acquired set of skills was about to get probed and thrived. 

After a few more glides, my confidence grew and I was falling in love deeper with this particular winter sport. Then, my boyfriend, somehow, managed to test my new allegiance to snowboarding. He mentioned that a true snowboarder would seek a more challenging route that could only be accessed by a gondola. With no hesitation, I jumped into a line for boarding on a gondola lift. And yes. I get manipulated that easily.  

Taking a gondola cable car from the station located nearby the Yellow lifting platform allows visitors to reach the highest point of the Yongpyeong Resort, the Dragon Peak, on one ride. For the energetic ski and snowboard riders who are willing to slide back down from the mountain summit, you can select either a Rainbow Paradise (intermediate route) or Rainbow 2 (extra advanced) as your choice of slope. As for me, I instantly went for the former. Since the majestic views from the top had rendered half my confidence volatile, the latter had to wait.

Stunning Landscape Scenery from the Dragon Peak | Yongpyong Ski Resort

The Rainbow Paradise at Yongpyong Resort is a 5.6 kilometers ski course with numerous twisty turny sections. It is the longest ski track I’ve ever experienced in Korea. Although my ride down the first kilometer was very bumpy because my legs were unexpectedly frozen from the panic when seeing how steep and narrow the path was, and also, the loud snow carving sounds echoing from all the pro riders were very distracting, but it got better once I was able to be fully focused. 15 minutes later, I was s-turning down the foot of the mountain, completing the course with adrenaline rushing through my veins. It was amazing! The challenge was very well accepted. And snowboarding has definitely become my ultimate and favorite thing to do during the season of snow. Cannot wait for the next winter to come~☃️