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Embarking on Snowboarding: A Guide for Beginners

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Embarking on your snowboarding journey can feel daunting at first. However, equipping yourself with some fundamental knowledge can significantly facilitate your understanding and accelerate your progress. In this comprehensive guide, designed specifically for snowboarding novices, we will delve into the core elements of snowboarding and gear selection, offer useful insights for your initial snowboarding experience, strategies to elevate your enjoyment, and suggestions for transforming snowboarding into a lifelong hobby.



Mindset

Before we dive deeper, let's take a moment to contemplate the essence of snowboarding via these three elemental truths:

  1. The central ethos of snowboarding is about pure enjoyment. If that's the only takeaway for you, feel free to cease reading here.

  2. Snowboarding is a medium through which you can immerse yourself in nature.

  3. Snowboarding fosters community and facilitates the establishment of meaningful relationships, united by a shared love for this exhilarating sport. Regardless of your level of expertise, whether you're just stepping onto the board or a seasoned pro, keep these three truths at heart. By embracing these principles, you can almost guarantee yourself an exceptional time on the slopes.

Having established the right mindset, let's explore some practical aspects of beginning your snowboarding journey. There are four critical areas that beginners should focus on:

  1. Choosing the Right Destination

  2. Selecting the Appropriate Gear

  3. Identifying the Ideal Riding Companion




Choosing the Right Destination: Accessing the Mountains

While some individuals are fortunate to reside near established ski regions, others might have to travel to reach the nearest resort. If you are new to downhill sports, the selection of the right destination can be confusing. For this, refer to this detailed global list of ski areas and resorts sorted by regions and make a shortlist of possible destinations. After compiling this preliminary list, visit each location's website or call them to answer the following critical questions:

  • Does the resort have an extensive variety of low-angle slopes suitable for beginners?

  • Are there accessible uphill options such as tow ropes or J-bars?

  • What is the cost of a beginner lift ticket?

  • What are the options and costs for snowboard rentals?

  • Does the resort have a ski school? Are snowboarding lessons available, and what is their price?

  • What are the facilities for warming areas, restrooms, and food? Keep in mind that resorts can greatly differ in their terrain, services, and amenities. As a rule of thumb, beginners should look for mountains that provide a welcoming environment for novice riders.


Selecting the Appropriate Gear: Rent Before You Buy

Though it's kind of your friend to lend you a snowboard, we highly recommend renting the necessary gear for your initial outing. Equipment tailored for beginners is specifically designed to be more flexible and provide a softer ride, offering a forgiving experience as you find your footing. Think of beginner rental boards as training wheels on a child's bike. Although you'll outgrow it quickly, it aids in building the skills and confidence necessary to advance without straining your wallet. Furthermore, you can rely on the knowledge of the rental staff to assist you in setting up the suitable size and stance, rather than grappling with these elements on your own.


In case your chosen mountain offers rental services, they will likely provide options apt for beginners. If not, consider visiting your local snowboard shop and inquire about their rental/loaner options. Alternatively, consider renting from a shop near your home, enabling you to pick it up the night before your trip to the mountain (bonus: you can bypass the morning rental shop queues).


For those adamant about purchasing personal gear, we have additional guides detailing snowboard sizing, selecting snowboard boots, and setting up your stance.


Beyond hardgoods (snowboards, bindings, and boots), you'll need appropriate outerwear (a jacket, snowboard pants, mittens/gloves), thermal layers (long underwear/base layers, a sweater), goggles, and a helmet. But there's no need to splurge on new gear and aim for winning a nonexistent on-mountain fashion contest on your first day. If possible, borrow these items from a family member or friend, as any gear that keeps you warm, dry, and safe will do. Once you've fallen in love with snowboarding (and we believe you will), you can invest in the perfect jacket that complements your style.






The Ideal Riding Companion: An Instructor

We've already underscored the importance of community. Soon, you'll become part of the vibrant group of riders carving their way through untouched sidecountry bowls. However, that stage lies a bit further down your journey. So, who should be your companion on your inaugural day on the slopes? A snowboard instructor. If you've planned a trip with friends, encourage them to explore the mountain while you take a lesson. Learning from a professional stranger is a crucial piece of advice for snowboarding beginners.

Professional snowboard instructors are the ideal choice due to the following reasons:

  • Their sole focus is aiding you in learning how to snowboard, drawing on their extensive experience to guide your personal pathway to proficiency.

  • Imparting snowboarding skills requires more than mere knowledge of the sport. Most coaches and instructors have worked with countless students, each with unique mind-body dynamics, so no matter how unique you may feel, they've likely taught someone very similar to you.

  • They are familiar with the mountain terrain and can offer valuable advice on where to go and what to do (both on and off the slopes).





After your lesson, rejoin your group for a few runs. Stick to the basics you've learned in your lesson, and don't hesitate to venture off on your own if you wish to practice at slower speeds without holding up the rest of the group.

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