Before we get into my tips on snowboarding, I have to disclose that I’m not that great of a snowboarder. I’ve been snowboarding for over 7 years, but I’m not so good. I take it nice and easy-going down the mountains. This list is for those that are about to start or are new to the sport.
- It all starts with the boots. Make sure your boots fit well. I know, duh. But seriously, if your boots don’t fit properly, you’re going to have a miserable day on the slopes. Once my boots were too tight, and my toenails turned black and every time I pushed on my toes for the rest of the vacation, pain shot up my legs. Most rental boots don’t offer half sizes. I take a 10 ½, so I use an 11 when I rent boots. It’s better to have more room in the toe than have them scrunched together.
- When choosing a board as a beginner, get a board that fits right under your chin. Some might suggest that you go with a shorter board because they are easier to control. For me, I would rather go with a longer board because I’m not doing anything fast and wild.
- Regular vs Goofy: When getting a board, you’ll state if you are “Regular or Goofy.” This means which foot you lead with while going down the mountain. If you lead with your left foot, you are regular. If you lead with your right foot, you’re called “Goofy-footed.” A good way to figure this out is to think about what you do on a slippery surface. If you go running across some ice, do you lead with your right or left foot? Or when sliding around the floor on your socks, which foot usually leads? Knowing this ahead of time will help whoever fastens your bindings.
- Book a snowboarding lesson. Before you head up the mountain, take a lesson. You’ve probably already spent a lot of money on rentals, lift tickets, clothes, and a plethora of other things. If you can, budget in a lesson. I still take lessons. It’s good to have a teacher start you out on the correct way to do things. That snow hits hard after a dozen falls, so you’ll want to learn the correct ways as soon as possible.
- Getting on and off chairlifts: Getting on and off the chairlift was intimidating at first, but I quickly got used to being able to slide in and off. Before you approach the lift, unbuckle your back foot and slide up to the lift line. When the chair comes up behind you, sit down at an angle, leaning mainly on one butt cheek. As the front bar comes down, place the edge of the board onto the slats skiers put their skis. It isn’t a natural feeling, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. When it’s time to exit the chair, slide the bar up. Once your board meets the hill, place your back foot on the board and surf down the hill till you get to a safe spot to strap in.
- Strapping your boots in: This is how you annoy skiers. Strapping in your boots into the binding is hard to do while standing. Most boarders plop down on the snow and strap in. Even experienced boarders do this. Some can stand and strap, but it’s much easier to do while sitting. Just make sure you’re in a safe spot.
- Stopping: Stopping depends on which way you’re facing. If you are facing the mountain, straighten out the board and dig into your toes. If your backside is facing the mountain, dig into your heels. You are going to fall a lot until you get this down.
- Turning: It feels unnatural at first, but you turn with your front foot and kick back with your back foot. Lead with the front, enforce with the back. It’s much easier to turn on your back heals at first, but as you get more comfortable, digging in with your toes transitions quicker and opens up more of what you can do going down the mountain.
- Watch where you are going. The way you face is the direction you’re going. The temptation will be to look down at your board. Keep your head up.
- Bend your knees. Keeping your knees bent helps you absorb the bumps and helps you with balance. If you’re standing and hit some unexpected ice, you’ll hit hard.
- Don’t be embarrassed by being on the bunny hill. Get comfortable on the bunny hill before you head down the mountain.
- Try the Blue Path. Green paths are great for learning, but you’ll probably come to a spot where you lose momentum and be stuck. Don’t be intimidated by the blues. You can still go slowly down the blue and I find it easier to keep my momentum.
- Don’t wear cotton. Snowboarding is a sport and you’re going to sweat like you are playing one. All that sweat will soak into cotton. You need to wear wicking clothing so as not to get rashes or be all smelly when you hit the bar at the end of your run.
- Know when to call it a day. You don’t want to be a new boarder and exhausted on the mountain. You’ll fall more and it will be discouraging. Get off the mountain on a high note.
- Remember to have fun and recover well. Snowboarding is supposed to be fun, so enjoy your day. And at the end, hit the hot tub or a massage. You earned it.
For the more advanced snowboarders out there, what are your suggestions?