Winter is coming and the weather forecasts start talking about snow, you might be one of the many people who are thinking about winter sports especially skiing or snowboarding.
If you have chosen snowboard, we salute you!
A unique combination the fluidity of surfing with the jump and spin techniques of skateboarding, snowboarding is a one of a kind adrenaline rush that has to be experienced.
We will cover some of the basic things you need to know before you embark on epic adrenaline journey of snowboarding.
First of all, you’ll need a board. There are basically two types of boards, depending on what kind of snowboarding you will be doing. Freeriding is the more downhill oriented side of the sport, but freestyle is usually what you think of as a snowboarding and amazing videos you have seen: riding the pipe, doing jumps, spins and looking styled.
Most snowboards are designed for either freeriding or freestyle, which is good because this shape is perfect for most beginners. It utilizes a twin tip (both ends are the same) design, as opposed to the free-carving or slalom boards, which are more directional in shape. Most people start out with a basic model. Pro tip: Don’t spend a lot of money for your first board as you will change it as soon as you advance to next level. As a matter of fact if you are planning to do only few boarding trips this season, go for a good (well maintained) used board, or don’t buy any, rent it in the resort and have opportunity to try few different models and see which one suits you best.
The next important piece of equipment are bindings. You need those to attach your feet to the board. Most entry level bindings share the same basic design. Base plate with ratcheting straps. Unlike ski bindings, snowboard bindings are not meant to release when you crash. They need to be disconnected in order to “skate,” or glide along flat areas. More advanced bindings replace the base plate with a set of rails. This allows your boots to rest directly on the board for better response and feel.
You’ll also need snowboard boots, and these are usually thick and strong boots. They come in all shapes and styles. High and low styles. New advanced technology materials as well as traditional leather. Most snowboard boots have stubby, blunted toes which make your feet look small. They also run about a size bigger than your normal shoes.
Assembling all the equipment is fairly simple. Most ski areas will rent you a board and binding set up and a pair of boots for between $30 and $50 per day. If you want to buy your own stuff, expect to spend at least $500 to get any decent quality set of boots, bindings and board. Buying used gear is as mentioned before probably the best option for first timers, and most of your local snowboard shops will have a selection of both pre-owned and previous model year stock on a discounted prices. You can also check various forums, social media groups and websites that specialize in used equipment swap.
No matter if you rent or buy, you’ll need to determine your stance on the board. Most people board with their left foot forward. But some go “goofy,” leading with their right. How to tell (and you will be asked. It determines how the bindings are set up): Think of sliding into a base in baseball. Which foot would you extend forwards during your slide? Usually, that’s going to be your lead foot while boarding. Riding fakie (opposite your normal stance) is a useful skill, but one to develop in future when you pass the beginner level challenges.
Strap your front foot onto the board, which will place your toes over one edge and your heel against the other. In order to get around in the flats, you push with your free back foot, much like propelling a skateboard. When you are ready to start your descent, you strap the back foot in and allow yourself to drift down the mountain. Make sure you are facing forward, keep your hands in front of you and your weight low (with your knees bent), and don’t try to do too much too soon. Be especially careful not to catch the front or back edge of your board too sharply in the snow: this will cause you to crash.
Turns are made by leaning forward or backward and from side to side, using the toe edge and heel edge of the board for steering and speed control. Stopping is very similar to braking on hockey skates. You bring both feet perpendicular to the slope and scrape to a stop, hopefully without falling down. Then you unbuckle your back binding, skate over to the lift, and head back to the top for another run.
If you are thinking about trying snowboarding for the first time, go to a local ski area, rent some basic equipment, and by all means take a lesson. All told, the day might cost you between $75 and $100, but you will definitely make progress a lot faster with some professional instruction the first time out. This will also give you to opportunity to get a better feeling about the proper board size (based on your weight, not height) and to check out your compatibility with the sport before you blow a wad on equipment.
If you are planning your first snowboard trip on a budget, please check our post with all tips and advices to save few bucks on your trip, including resort discounts, ski pass discounts, equipment and gear swap and discounts here: Budget Ski/Snowboard trip
If you are looking for tutorials, lessons, advices and videos to help you jump right into the adrenaline packed adventure of snowboarding check our page: All about Snowboard