Saturday, March 19, 2011

Snowboarding, Part 2

When I first started down the mountain, I felt nervous and unsure...

You might imagine the mechanics of snowboarding with a prosthesis are a little different. At first, I thought so too. Most of this comes from the natural body position shift from what a proper stance would be to what I felt my leg required.

My bindings were still set to a front foot angle and my leg felt like it was being twisted out of place slightly (I haven't decided if I'll change that for next time to bring my foot more in line).

Wearing a knee sleeve to increase my socket suction also left my knee feeling slightly immobilized at first, meaning I had to consciously decide to bend it and flex against the tight silicon (I wouldn't change this set-up due to the stability it granted).

My speed was picking up and my edges were threatening to catch. The feeling of the hill was familiar but entirely foreign at the same time. I couldn't tell what was going to happen next but I didn't feel like I was entirely in control of the board. I tensed up.

Yep, I made the same mistake every beginner makes (and I'm constantly harping about) of taking my weight off my front foot, leaning away from what was making me nervous (the steep slope) and centering my weight over my back foot, making it impossible to steer. Translation: I wasn't attacking the hill, I was being a wuss.

I reviewed the footage of the first section of the descent from my trusty photographer and recognized my Bambi-like form.

Time to strap in and suck it up. Put aside the fear and figure it out. Besides, I was wearing a helmet, what could go wrong?

I got up again and shifted my weight forward over my front leg. I followed my own advice and bent my knees more, leaned harder into the turns and most importantly, relaxed enough to let the board do it's job. I reminded myself that falling is fun when snow's involved, then leaned forward and attacked the hill, just like old times.

By the end of the first full run down the mountain, I was feeling like myself again, nearly back to old form. We did at least 5 more long runs and I felt fantastic, each one better than the last.

Overall, I had a great first day back to snowboarding.

The muscles in my lucky leg need shaping up and I did have one small problem as the day went on as all that cold activity meant I was shrinking inside the socket, making the board harder to control.

Rather than risking a big crash, we decided to leave it on a positive note and went in about an hour before closing, tired but entirely satisfied and grinning ear-to-ear.


  1. That video would be retarded if I didn't know what the difficulty was. You don't look any different than a normal boarder (and certainly better than me!)

    Where was this?

  2. You Rock! That's friggin' awesome! Well done Mike!

  3. That's great Mike!
    I see that Walter Reed now has a "bionic" prosthesis; the Powerfoot BiOM. It apparently flexes at the foot and ankle!

  4. Yep, pretty neat stuff hey! Ossur has the "proprio" as well, a bionic foot with an accelerometer that can determine instantly whether a person is walking up or down stairs/ramps/hills, etc and relaxes in a sitting/resting position.