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Board sports are not really my forte. Anyone that has read my post about learning to surf will understand why. It’s not that I’m bad at them, I’m actually alright, but I’ve grown old and cautious. I’m terrified of either drowning or smashing my face on the concrete. However, snowboarding was something I always wanted to try. Add in testing the new TomTom Bandit and I was pretty excited. My fear level was minimal, I mean…. how much can snow hurt, right?! All the horror stories I’d heard from snow sports were ski-related and I wasn’t skiing, GRAND! So here’s my tale of learning to snowboard.
When I first arrived in at Hotel Montana in Tignes, France (If you’re into France here’s a few more posts about my time in France) I was greeted by the TomTom staff. I (on behalf of BackpackerBanter) was invited, along with a host of other journalists, to trial the new TomTom Bandit action camera. It was my first time at an event like this. As with any sort of first time, I was nervous and excited. I didn’t know what lay ahead, but I was ready to dive in. Sorry, some innuendo left over from my last post.
I was first introduced to the TomTom Bandit camera by a talk from the founder of TomTom, Mr. Peter-Frans Pauwels. This was a pretty big honour. It was basically a crash course on how to use the camera, some examples of it in use with the awesome TomTom Bandit athletes and a bit about it’s development. Here’s what stood out for me about the TomTom Bandit;
1) There is a separate stop and start button. Which I find useful because you can’t end up stopping it when you think you’ve turned it on.
2) The battery is extremely long-lasting and removable. It has a built in USB so there’s no need for cables. This is my favourite part!
3) To make it waterproof up to 50m all you need to do is put a small cover on the lense. This is sold separately
4) THE APP. It is amazing. For people like me that basically know NOTHING about video editing, this App is a dream come true. The Shake feature is incredibly easy to use. You simply shake your phone and the App knits together your best clips and makes them into an awesome video.
So, with my crash course in the TomTom Bandit complete, I was given my camera, helmet mount and selfie stick. It was time to hit the slopes.
First things first, before I could even start learning to snowboard I needed to get my equipment. Not that I knew what that was. Turns out it’s a board, some boots and a helmet. The board was easy and the helmet wasn’t even too bad, despite my over-sized head. The boots, however, were another story altogether. The lovely gentleman in the store measured my feet and handed me my boots. All I had to do was try them on. Easy, right? Not so much. How in the name of God did these things open?! They had wires wrapped around them. WIRES!
So I sat there looking like an idiot for five minutes until someone came to my rescue. Even when I did get them open, getting my foot into them was a whole new struggle. Theses boots are designed to make it impossible to break your ankle while out on the slope. But I must admit it definitely felt like I was going to break my ankle just getting into the boots. In the end it was all worth it for the feeling of walking on the moon that the boots give you while wearing them.
I met my instructor hanging around on the steps of my hotel. He was a thirty-something year old with the typical instructor life of a season in the sun and a season in the snow. It suited him. He informed me that I wasn’t learning to snowboard solo today, I would have a partner in crime. Enter Chris, my fellow journalist. He was having a harder time with the boots than even I did. However, once we all had our kit together we bounced (blame it on the boots) off to the flattest bit of snow we could find.
To be honest, this part went very well for me. I could slide down the mildest of “slopes” with no issues. I could even put my weight on my heels or toes and steer myself to some degree. I felt victorious. I had expected to spend most of my time falling over. Unfortunately for Chris he did not have the same experience. We had to abandon him for an hour. “Leave no man behind”, does NOT apply to snowboarding apparently.
Then it came time for the ski lift. I had previously only seen these elevated moving sky-benches in films like Bridget Jones 2 and Chalet Girl. I feared I did not have realistic expectations. My instructor demonstrated first, after which I slid my way VERY SLOWLY into the line of fire. Before I knew it I’d been scooped up onto the chair and was surrounded by the most beautiful view. Within moments it was time to descend from the lift with the grace of an angel…… kind of. I may have boarded into some sort of sign. And knocked it over. Then picked it up, along with my dignity. hahaah.
Learning to Stand
Once myself and Cam (the instructor) were in position on the slope he proceeded to teach me how to stand up on the board. This was, by far, the hardest part of learning to snowboard. I had to sit on the snow, strap my feet into the board and then basically thrust myself forward into a standing position like some sort of Bruce Lee move. This was made more amusing by the fact that Cam stood directly in front of me, saying things like “Imagine you’re trying to jump on me.”. I think the hilarity was lost in translation for him.
After several attempts I did finally manage to stand up myself with Cam directly in front of me in case I got out of control. This was, of course, the point at which I realised the zipper on my ski pants was down. EXCELLENT. I wanted to do it up. But I also didn’t want to draw any attention to it. Oh, the inner turmoil. Maybe Bridget Jones 2 is a fairly realistic view of snow sports after all?! ANYWAYS, I had done so much better than I ever imagined; I stood up, and I managed to go down the slope a bit by myself. I was proud of myself. It was time to head back, dry off and check out my TomTom Bandit footage.
So back in the hotel with my clothes changed and dry, it was time to decide what I really thought of snowboarding and the TomTom Bandit. Ok, so I loved snowboarding. But what about the Bandit? My footage wasn’t anything impressive, mainly just me falling over and swearing. But the pictures were pretty stunning! If I’m honest, I’ve never been much into video anyway, the TomTom Bandit and it’s App have opened my eyes to how easy it can be, and fun.
The fact that I can connect my camera to my phone, create a video with a quick shake and then upload it straight to my social media channels within minutes is incredible. My one concern is that the burst feature can only be used for two seconds. However, this does save you from accidentally taking 400 photos of you fumbling around with the camera, which I have done before. Otherwise, with it’s fast-share technology and cable-less design, the TomTom Bandit has serious potential to be a real contender in the action camera market.