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Class Review: Snowboarding (KINES 012)

Sadly, this semester will be my last at Penn State, and, like many seniors, I waited until the last moment to complete my last GHA (General Health and Activity) credits. So when it was time to schedule, I scrolled through the slate of kinesiology classes. Karate? Nah. Fitness walking? Meh. Jogging? HELL NO. Snowboarding? Hmmm… Wait, it’s only one night a week for six weeks? That sounds cool. Sign me up.

I had never snowboarded or even visited Tussey Mountain before this class, and I really had no idea what to expect. Below I share some of the positives and negatives of my KINES 12 experience. (Note: Kines 012 is only offered in the spring semester.)

Pro: I learned how to snowboard

On the night of the first lesson, they split your class into three groups: experienced riders, those who have snowboarded a couple times before, and complete amateurs, me being the latter. I couldn’t even strap my feet into my board, let alone get down the bunny hill without busting my ass, before taking this course. The instructors take the time to teach you the basics and won’t rush you into something you’re not ready for. I really did get better each and every week. By the end of the class, I could get down the main slope without somersaulting down Tussey Mountain, which, to me, required a minor miracle.

Con: The Price

$265. That’s what you’re looking at if you don’t have any equipment ($199 if you do). It’s a pretty steep price for a class, but it does include six weeks of rentals and training. Your lift pass is also good from 5-10 p.m., so since the class starts at 7:00, students have the opportunity to get some practice in before class. But yeah, it’ll definitely put in a little dent in your spring break fund.

Pro: Only six weeks

This is one of things that drew me to the class. I didn’t want to take a three-day-a-week class if I could just get the credit out of the way in six nights. You can take the course on Sunday afternoons or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday nights. Whichever day you decide, realize that the class will take a good five hours out of your day between getting to and from Tussey, putting on your equipment, and the class itself. I will say though, it’s much better than having another Monday-Wednesday-Friday class, and I’m sure it’ll pay off whenever the temperature decides to climb over 47 degrees.

Con: Your grade is somewhat based on your performance

At least, that’s what they tell you. 40 percent of the class is based on your attendance to all six lessons, 20 percent comes from an easy exam, and the last 40 percent depends on your “skill performance,” per the syllabus. Now, I’m not exactly sure what that means, nor do I know how the other instructors grade, but our guide was pretty understanding that we were all going to fall on our ass about 73 times each and every Wednesday night. When it came to the final test, (I think) he graded everyone with relative leniency. I thought I was pretty awful, but I somehow got an A. So, there’s that.

Pro: The Instructors are pretty cool

Going off of that, every instructor I ran into seemed pleasant and knowledgeable. Although my instructor moved my group off of the bunny slope faster than we wanted, he took things slow enough and did work to ensure the progress of everyone in the group. I never once felt my guide pushed me into something I wasn’t ready for.

Con: If you get hurt, you fail  

Okay, this scared the crap out of me when they first emailed me the syllabus. At the very bottom it reads:

“There is an inherent risk in taking snowboarding class. Every year there are a few students who become injured and cannot complete their class. If you are a graduating senior, who is depending on this credit to fulfill your GHA requirement, you may put your planned May graduation in jeopardy if you can’t complete this class. If you are a graduating senior who meets these conditions and can’t complete the course you will have to petition your college for a hardship waiver for your last GHA credit. Neither Tussey Mountain nor the department of Kinesiology has the power to waive any credits from your GHA requirement.”

I really love Penn State, but what? This class can prohibit me from graduating? It certainly sounded that way. I went through with the class, and thankfully, I came out unscathed. It certainly was in the back of my mind though, as I basically prayed a decade of the rosary on the way to each lesson. Every time I was about to fall, the threat of not graduating crossed my mind — something a student shouldn’t have to think about when taking any course, snowboarding or not.

Overall Grade: B+

I enjoyed the class and I learned how to snowboard for $265 — certainly not the worst thing I’ve done during my time in Happy Valley. It’s a short six-week course where you’ll learn something different and make some new friends along the way. As long as you can tolerate the cold — and yes, it does get very cold in February — I would suggest the class for anyone who needs to knock out their last GHA credit.

About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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