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April 24, 2014
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A Skier’s Sense of Surf

There could be worse things to be obsessive-compulsive about

(page 1 of 2)

When he’s feeling generous, my husband Mike calls me determined—but I know that’s just his code word for obsessive-compulsive disorder. So, it’s a good thing he shares my latest obsession, surfing.

Even though I grew up spending summers at the beach, I never once considered surfing. I thought only hip teenagers with sun-bleached hair and underdeveloped fear factors took up that sport. The desire to surf didn’t hit me until I had passed into my forties, when our friends Dave and Mandy enticed us to join them for a week at Corky Carroll’s Surf School in Nosara, Costa Rica.

“You don’t have to surf,” Dave told me. That settled it. I was definitely going out on a board.

During that first week in Nosara, I practiced my pop-up on the beach, revealing a strong right-foot-forward goofy tendency. I ignored my flaming face and repeated the moves until I could jump up and position myself correctly on the board without thinking. Still, I never made it out of the rollers, remnants of already-broken waves.

Surfing, I found, is as hard as it looks. The surf camp videos reminded me of the après-ski movie at the Trap Bar, the one showing novice skiers falling all over the place as they unload from the lift. Only this time it was me in the picture, tumbling headfirst off my board in frame after frame. But I got hooked. Determined, my husband might say. We immediately started planning our return.

Taking up surfing doesn’t seem like such a good idea when you consider our hometown in the mountains is roughly a thousand miles from the nearest saltwater beach. But there’s a synergy between surfing and skiing/boarding, and a surprising number of enthusiasts pursue both sports. Since visiting Nosara, we’ve come to realize that many other Teton Valley residents escape the mountain mud season to spend time surfing on Costa Rica’s western coast.

Skiing/boarding primarily works the lower body, while surfing challenges the upper body, but both require a seriously toned core. They’re like opposites on the color wheel, the perfect balance for cross training. Back in Driggs after that first trip, I joined the core strength training classes at Dreamchasers and sent Dave and Mandy a bottle of absinthe as a thank you gift, with a note reading, “We don’t know whether to thank you or curse you, so hopefully this will do both.”

Then I set about arranging a five-week stay for the following spring.

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