You may not know this about me, but I skied for 10 years (yes ten!) before I became a rider. I was about 9 years old when I first got on skis and it was thanks to my school at the time (American Community School) that I got into it. As part of a team building & social nurturing activity, my school took the entire grade to a skiing trip for 2 days. At the time many of my friends were already skiers and so naturally I pretended that I knew all about the sport. I don’t regret doing that, because it resulted in an unforgettable first-day experience.
I feel in love with skiing and so I bought my own gear and went 2-3 times a month. As the years went by, I started going more frequently. During those years there weren’t that many riders on the slopes, but they definitely grew in number as the seasons went by. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I seriously considered snowboarding and at that point I promised myself another 1 or 2 seasons of skiing before I would switch. The next season (2004/2005) I rented a snowboard and gave it a go. Boy was it a frustrating experience. Hell, it was grueling. And so I chucked the board away and got back on my sweet skis for yet another amazing season.
The following season (2005/2006) I went on a 4 day trip with some very close university friends. My good buddy Mo (who was also a skier at the time ) and I tossed the idea of snowboarding around a bit but with minimal confidence. In what would really only happen in cheesy movie scenes, happened to us. Mo and I caught each other eyeing the boards on the rental displays, thus quickly coming to the realization that if there’s ever a time to give this a shot, it would be now. We decided to ride for 2 days and ski for the remaining 2 days (the idea here was that if we didn’t enjoy snowboarding, we would at least enjoy the remainder of trip skiing). WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING!?!? Fair warning to all skiers: do not try to snowboard unless you’re fully ready to give up skiing! Needless to say, we never looked back. 4 years, 4 boards, 10+ trips, 50+ parties, 1000s of miles, sore muscles, bruised asses, a few fractured bones, and many mind-blowing like-nothing-else times, here we are!
So what did it really take to make the switch?
1. A partner who wants to snowboard and is a beginner just like yourself. This is not to say that you can’t do it alone, but I tried that and compared to practicing with a friend, having a partner was significantly easier.
2. A professional pair of rental boards, boots, and bindings. PLEASE pay the extra $10-$15 for the day and get yourself a solid setup. It’s worth it! Also get a board with bindings that can be easily rotated without a screwdriver (this will prove very useful when you try to figure out which leg you are most comfortable with having in the back).
3. $0 on lessons and instructors: We didn’t spend a single dime on lessons and instructors (refer to #1 on the list).
4. A resort with 2-3 bunny slopes: While 1 bunny slope is good, a few of them will keep things interesting and challenging.
5. 2-3 days of full day riding either consecutively or spread across 2 weekends back-to-back: It may get tiring, but it’s super important that your body gets used to the sport. If you do it for a day, then come back a few weeks later, more often than not, it’ll be like you’re doing it for the first time.
6. Patience and confidence: You have to accept that the first few times on a board will be frustrating. You’re asking your body to do something that isn’t natural (locking your feet to a single board). More importantly, you need to understand that it’s certainly not impossible and that it will take some time.
7. Get a butt pad, helmet, and wrist guards: You are going to fall a lot in the beginning(just the nature of the sport) so having your ass and wrist protected will make things so much easier. I don’t mean to sound like a parent, but if you think you’re going to look stupid, then at least get the wrist guards and helmet. If you don’t, looking stupid will be the least of your worries!
8. Many will tell you that a basic understanding of the differences between skiing and snowboarding will help, but honestly, it won’t matter on the mountain. You’re welcome to read our Snowboard or Ski post for curiosity’s sake, but it won’t help much on the slopes.
Important Tips & Tricks for beginners:
1. Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
2. Figure out which leg you are more comfortable having in the back. Forget all the tests you’ve read about and just get a feel for it, so don’t forget to get a board with bindings that easily rotate.
3. Wrist guards, helmet, and butt pads will be your guardian angels.
4. Watch others on the slopes (preferably the younger riders, because if they can do it, then surely you can).
5. Make sure you get a properly waxed and tuned board (and make sure the bindings are screwed on tightly). Some resorts have a bad habit of not regularly doing this and you wouldn’t drive a car that was leaking or had faulty breaks.
Don’t forget to check out our full list of Snowboarding Tips & Tricks collected from our own experiences and those of our users.