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The Magic Skateboard

Updated on August 19, 2016

“Just ride over the jump,” Coach Justin told Noelani impatiently.

“I can’t. I’m scared!” she answered. “Will you help and guide me over?”

“No, you have to do it on your own. Everyone else in this class is jumping 3 feet, and you won’t even ride over this little hump!”

That evening after dinner, Noelani avoided the dodgeball game and strolled around High Cascade Snowboard Camp, moping. Justin saw and approached her. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I’ll never get anywhere, snowboarding. I’m too scared to go off that jump!” Tears filled her eyes.

“That’s actually very common. I know the cure for that.” He pulled out a skateboard that looked like a tree branch with moss on it, and set it on the ground. “Here, stand on this. I’ll pull you all around the skate park. Guaranteed, you’ll be flying off that jump tomorrow!”

Noelani let Coach Justin tow her all around the skate park; he even led her up and over a 2 foot high pyramid, and she didn’t fall once.

The next day, class met at the small hump, and sure enough, Noelani sailed 3 feet. So Coach Justin had the class go to another area to work on 10 foot jumps. Feeling like a daredevil, Noelani asked to go first. She flew from the takeoff, and crashed into a tree.

An aural glow filled the air, and the tree spoke to her. “Somebody took one of my branches! Do you know who it is?”

Noelani gaped, transfixed. She thought of Coach Justin’s magic skateboard, but said nothing.

“When I find out who it is, I’m burying that person under my roots!”

Then the world returned to normalcy. Her classmates surrounded her, and Coach Justin was far up the hill. “Let’s go somewhere else!” he called, and pointed off to the right. They all went in that direction.

“You did great!” he told her, when he caught up. “Sorry about the crash. We shouldn’t have been in that area in the first place.”

Noelani gave him a knowing smile. “That’s OK,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll fear anything ever again.”

If only overcoming fear was that simple. Fortunately, it can be done without magic. The way to do that is to...


I first started skiing when I was twelve, and skied all through middle and high school. Since I only got to go half dozen days a year, I never advanced beyond the intermediate stage. Because of this, I became frustrated and quit for 10 years. Pleasant memories drove me to take it up again. I quickly returned to the skill level I was before stopping, but since once again I could only afford to go six times a year, I was worried I’d never get any better.

Then I had the good fortune of stumbling across a magazine article about preparing for the upcoming ski season by cross training. The article said bicycling was the best way to do it, so I took it up, doing a shortened 20-mile version of Portola Loop, which is quite hilly (I lived in Palo Alto, CA). I did it once a week for three months before I was able to ride the whole distance without having to walk up any of the hills. The first time, it took me 2½ hours; in 3 months, I cut my time down to 2 hours.

I increased my rides to twice, then three times a week. My first ski season after taking it up, I noticed my knees felt unusually strong. My second season, I skied my first black diamond – on the first day!

When I moved to Seattle, I was able to ski a lot more often, because the resorts were nearby and season’s passes were cheap. However, I had let my cross training lapse. Though I skied a lot more often, I had reverted back to an intermediate skier. I took up snowboarding because of the slushy snow, but could barely get down the bunny slope; snowboarding takes a lot more skill to learn. Being horribly out of shape didn’t help matters one bit.

Circumstances made it necessary for me to move to the Big Island of Hawaii. I could still ski and snowboard, but it was going to be real hit-and-miss; I’d have to wait until there was snow on Mauna Kea, and even then, I’d have to do it at over 13,000 feet, and I’d have to hike uphill, carrying my equipment, because there are no lifts. So that meant if there was to be any hope for me to ski and snowboard, I would have to take up cross training again – and this time, it was going to have to involve a lot more than bicycling.

This became my regular routine:

When I first started, I could only do 15. I did them daily, adding 5 sit-ups per month until I got to 50. It makes a world of difference; when I first attended High Cascade Snowboard Camp after doing minimal snowboarding for 6 years, my coach was surprised at how I was able to pop up from a sitting position on the slope. It was because of all the sit-ups I’d been doing.
This strengthens the shoulders and arms, making it easier to do cartwheels and hand plants. It would be a good idea to work your way up to 50, so you don’t get muscle injuries from overwork.
Lateral Arm Raises while lying on back / Overhead Arm Raises / Lateral Arm Raises While Laying on Side, both overhand and underhand
10 each
I do these in bed, with 5 pound weights. Again, it’s best to work your way up. I started off with 5 reps, then zoomed to 25, which was a big mistake; I developed a very sore right shoulder. So I dropped down to 10. It’s best to add 5 reps per month, even if you feel like you can do more.
Overhead press with 5 pound dumbbells
Again, start off doing as many as you can before you get tired, and work your way up. This helps with handstands and shoulder support doing backbends.
Underhand Bicep Curls / Overhand Bicep Curls
50 each
These are easier to do, but once again, start at a number where you feel comfortable, then increase by 5 per month. These give you the strength to carry heavy equipment whenever you need to hike in places not serviced by lifts.
Squeezing a gel / foam ball, overhand and underhand
50 times each way
This strengthens the forearms, complementing bicep curls.
I do these by hanging from parallel bars, or sitting on the edge of a chair if no parallel bars are available. Again, start with a number that’s comfortable, and gradually increase it. This strengthens the core, like sit-ups. My personal goal is to be able to do an L-seat, like a gymnast.
Pulling In And Pushing Out Stomach
This strengthens the core, and makes your waist smaller. It complements sit-ups.
Hold for up to 3 minutes
I rest on my forearms and toes. This strengthens the core. Start with however many seconds you can hold, gradually building up to 3 minutes.
For this, I have to use the Lift Assist at the gym. The first time I did it, I had to remove 60 pounds from my weight. Currently, I need to remove 35 pounds. Usually, I do one chin-up at 35 pounds, then do 10 at 50 pounds, to strengthen my shoulders, arms, and core.
Hand Stand
As many seconds as you can manage
If you can’t actually balance while doing a handstand, you can lean up against a wall to do it. Make sure you lock your elbows so you don’t collapse.
Wall Sit
Up to 3 minutes
This strengthens the thighs, and helps with proper stance in both skiing and snowboarding (sit on the toilet, don’t smell it). I read one needs to work up to 3 minutes.
Back Bend
This keeps the back and core flexible. Doing back bend pushups strengthens shoulders and arms. If you can’t do a backbend and don’t have a spotter, you can either lay on the floor and push yourself up into a backbend, use an exercise ball to guide yourself over, or sit on a knee-high bench and do your backbends from there.

Aerobic Activities

1,750 – 3,500 calories per week.

When my brother first brought me out to the Big Island, I was very overweight and out of shape. I had read that if you burn 3,500 calories per week, you can lose a pound a week for 6 months – and you don’t even have to change your diet to do so. I was unemployed at the time, so I spent my time trying it – and lost 30 pounds in 6 months. These are the aerobic exercises I did, and the number of calories burned during the effort:

100 calories per mile.
If you’re on a treadmill, it can assign more calories per mile, depending on how much you weigh, how fast you walk, and if you’re going uphill (it can also assign less). When I’m not on a treadmill, I just assign myself 100 calories – it’s easier.
100 calories per mile.
It took 3 months of practicing 3 times per week, but eventually I was able to run a mile without stopping. I was 40 years old, and did this for the first time since I was 14 – except this time, I was running uphill, not on a flat track! So I was doing even better! Life really does begin at 40!
600 calories per mile.
I keep reading differing opinions on this one, but since you’re using all your muscles and working against such a heavy element (water), I prefer to stick to this. It worked well enough for me. In a swimming pool that is 25 yards across and 50 meters long, a mile is 32 lengths, or 72 times across. Once again, you have to work your way up. In a typical workout, I swim half a mile. *** This also helps with high altitude endurance. After working my way up to swimming ½ mile without stopping, I was able to hike and snowboard at 13,000 feet with very little trouble.
30 calories per mile.
At least, that’s what the counter says at the gym. It depends on whether or not you’re riding uphill, how difficult your pedal setting, and how fast you ride. This strengthens the knees, helping you make better turns and making you less susceptible to knee injuries. It also helps build endurance for high altitudes and long days.
7 calories per minute
My father told me this is the best machine to use, to get into shape. When I first attended High Cascade, my coach tried to get me to do laps in their park, but I found I couldn’t hike in the steep snow. Back home, I took up the Stairmaster, then found the following year I was able to hike. For those who don’t have access to a Stairmaster, you can practice running up stairs.
Roller Blading
300 calories per hour
This is excellent cross training for skiing. Depending on how vigorously you do it, you can burn more or fewer calories. My ski club in Silicon Valley used to set up gates for members to rollerblade through; this actually takes more skill than skiing, so it improved them greatly. (I didn’t do it because I couldn’t roller blade then.)


It’s best to do this after an aerobic workout, when your muscles are warm. Shoulders, as well as legs, need stretching. This keeps muscles loose, and prevents cramps, spasms, soreness, and injury.

High Dive

This is excellent cross training for jumps, and skiing / snowboarding steeps. Janica Kostelićwon gold medals in all the Women’s Skiing events in the 2006 Olympics; when she was a child, one of the ways her father had her train was by going off the high dive at the local swimming pool. He did this to get her over the fear of skiing steep fall lines.

I admit this is one thing I haven’t been able to do yet. Once I do, I’ll write another chapter on how to do it. All recommendations from you are welcome!

Sports: The Ultimate Teen Guide (It Happened to Me)
Sports: The Ultimate Teen Guide (It Happened to Me)

This book helps you cross train for all sorts of sports - an excellent guide!


The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is what you do with it. When I could ski / snowboard as much as I wanted, I lost interest in cross training, and it adversely affected my performance. Now that I rarely get to go, I cross train – and ski and snowboard better than I did in Seattle. I’ve also discovered being strong and skilled helps one overcome fear.

Cross Training Is Key!!!


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