Snowboarding appeals to a different kind of person than skiing. But learning to snowboard is not any harder than learning to ski (or vice versa) it’s just different! The learning process for snowboarding is different – in the beginning it is a steeper learning curve, but later progression is often quicker.
Here is a selection of tips designed for newbies to the ski slopes, designed for those who don’t already know how to ski.
- Get some lessons – it is usually better to get lessons from a professional instructor. Learning from friends is not always easy when they can’t remember quite what it was like in the beginning. Lessons can be quite expensive, but if you are on holiday with friends who already ski or board, you can’t spend all day hanging out with them as you will hold them up as there will be a difference in abilities.
- Snowboarding kit – having the right clothing is important. Waterproof trousers and a jacket are important, as you’ll spend a disproportionate amount of time in the first few days sitting on the ground – either listening/watching during lessons or because you have fallen over. Because of this close contact with the snow, you’ll also want thermals to keep your nether regions warm and cosy. Take a selection of layers on holiday with you so you can match them to the conditions – ask friends what they expect to need on a particular day. Snowboarders are more likely to end up with their hands in the snow, so gloves with long cuffs and a drawstring are helpful for not getting snow up the arms of your coat. A hat and goggles completes your ensemble.
- Safety equipment – unlike skiers, who often don’t use much safety equipment, when snowboarding, it is a good idea to have some. A helmet and wrist guards are the usual essentials – the helmet for when you fall over backwards and the wrist guards for forward facing falls. You can get gloves with wrist guards built in to them.
- Fitness levels – a good basic fitness level is helpful when you are learning – there can be a lot of walking uphill with your snowboard under your arm, particularly on nursery slopes. Good fitness will ease the early stages of learning to snowboard.
- At the hire shop – the shop staff will fit you with boots and a snowboard that is suitable for your skill level. If you are a complete beginner do let them know, and they will set you up appropriately. In particular they will work out if you are left or right footed (known as ‘goofy’ or ‘regular’ – terms that are the same in surfing and skateboarding) and set the snowboard up the right way for you.
- Take a snack – eating it will give you some energy when you are tired and give you something to do during the sitting down bits
- Be determined – the first few days of learning to snowboard are acknowledged to be hard – there’s a lot of wipeouts and frustration. Learning to use a button lift (which is simple for skiers) is a nightmare for boarders. Perseverance here will win the day – there is often a “eureka” moment and once that happens you are on the road to progression from beginner to intermediate.