Don’t end your first snowboarding experience feeling cold and sore. The sport requires slightly different clothing from ski-ing, although you are able to hire most of the equipment at Club Med resorts (which also saves on packing). Snowboarding boots are a must as they’re specially designed to strap into your new form of transport. You’ll need a crash helmet because you will fall over. Snow trousers and a coat that are not too tight are recommended or you could get an all in one outfit. You’ll need socks that prevent chafing and don’t forget to add thermal layers as it gets rather cold up there. Goggles and gloves go without saying.
Six steps to snowboarding
There’s a very good reason why snowboarding is so popular: it’s truly thrilling. A downhill adrenaline rush that allows you to challenge yourself, express yourself and learn new tricks every time you set off on another run. But how do you get into this wonderful sport? In this snowboarding tutorial we won’t make you a master of the mountains but we’ll show you how to make your first baby steps into a brilliant new pastime.
It’s obviously the most important piece of equipment and deciding on the size and type of snowboard that’s right for you is crucial. You can specialise later when you find your perfect style and we’d recommend beginning with an all-mountain board that offers both the ability to turn tricks and can give you some decent speed when you need it. Think about width, as you’ll be standing on your board sideways. It needs to be slightly less than the size of your feet, as the overhang will give you more control. We’d also suggest that strap bindings are the best for beginners. Finally, you’ll need a leash that attaches you to the board. Otherwise it could slide halfway down the mountain while you’re still at the top.
Okay, you have everything you need to snowboard and you’ve made it to your resort. It’s time to get going. Lessons from a professional would be the preferred option at this stage, but maybe you’re trying to learn yourself. Work out which leg will be used as your lead (see How to Tell if I’m Regular or Goofy). Now strap yourself in, attach your leash and find a (gentle) slope to get you going. The thing to remember here is not to point your board straight downhill – that’s a recipe for an uncontrolled wild first ride. Instead, try to go downhill sideways at first. Use one of your feet as the controller to change direction and take things gently.
At first, simply learn how to control your board and stop. Knees bent and back straight will help you balance. Find the posture where you’re slowly going downhill without going to either side. Just go a little distance. Stop and then sit down to get used to getting back up again. Then go for it another time. Practice makes perfect.
You’ll only be able to control your speed by turning. Practice garlands which are an essential basic to anyone learning to snowboard. Put your pressure down on the heel of your lead foot and you’ll find the board slowly turning until you start heading back in the direction you came. Advance slightly with garlands that use the edge of the board and require a shift in body movement. It might take some time, but soon you’ll have mastered this critical move.
Congratulations, you’re on a snowboard, on a slope and moving. Your first snowboarding experience is underway. Now all you have to do is get better and better which will take time. Don't rush things. Snowboarding is difficult and you don't want to hurt yourself learning how to do it. If possible, get lessons so your technique is solid from the start. And once you’ve got enough confidence, it’s time to start learning new tricks and that's where the fun really starts.