Tips for First-Time Snowboarders
In This Article: Layer for Warmth Stay Protected Gear Up Get On the Mountain
Winter is here, there is fresh powder in the mountains and you’re eager to gear up and hit the slopes as a first time snowboarder. Aside from being a thrilling wintertime activity, snowboarding is a great cardio and endurance workout (adults burn an average of 450 calories per hour). On a normal day of snowboarding, all your major muscle groups will get a workout as you navigate the mountain terrain: your quads, hamstring and calves are crucial for turns; your ankles and feet help you steer; and your core, arms and shoulders are essential for balance. Your body also releases endorphins, feelings of happiness and well being that make you feel on top of the world.
Layer for Warmth
When preparing for a day of snowboarding, be sure to dress in multiple layers. This will give you the flexibility to adapt to cold or sunny conditions by adding or removing layers. For all-day comfort, you should start with winter clothing essentials:
- A baselayer that includes a thermal long-sleeve top and bottoms. Synthetic materials such as polyester are best as they wick moisture away from the skin to keep you dry. Cotton absorbs water and should not be worn as the baselayer.
- An insulating midlayer that keeps you warm by trapping air and heat next to your body. Synthetic fleece and wool garments are great midlayers and again, cotton should be avoided. You can wear additional midlayers if weather conditions are cold or snowy.
- An outer layer that provides protection from the elements. Snowsport jackets and snow pants are designed to be durable, waterproof, windproof and breathable so that perspiration can escape while you are protected against wind, snow and rain.
- Snowsport socks that keep feet warm by promoting air circulation around the toes. Snowboard-specific socks are thinner around the toes with a forward lean built into them.
- Snow gloves or mittens to keep hands warm and dry. When choosing between snowsport gloves or mittens, know that snow gloves provide better feel and grip while mittens keep fingers together for extra warmth.
In addition to layers of insulating clothing, you should have the proper protective gear to help ensure your safety on the mountain:
- A well-fitting helmet that sits snugly on your head and does not move around is essential in preventing head injuries. Helmets designed specifically for snowsports have inner linings to keep your head warm. If you wear a dual-purpose helmet, you should wear a beanie underneath for warmth.
- Snowsport goggles to protect your eyes from wind, snow, bright sunlight and UV radiation. Make sure your goggles fit well with your helmet.
Fit is very important when selecting snowboard gear. Your snowboard, boots and bindings should be chosen or adjusted to fit your specific height, weight and body type. Keep in mind the following when selecting gear:
- When stood on its end, the snowboard should come up between your chin and nose. Your feet need to fit completely on the snowboard as a heel or toe sticking out can catch on the snow and send you off balance.
- The snowboard boots should be tight yet comfortable and strap easily into the snowboard.
- Your bindings should be set roughly shoulder-width apart for proper stance. Determine your lead foot, how you stand on your board, as this affects how your bindings are set. The lead foot often corresponds with your dominant hand, but not always.
- A snowboard leash is recommended to prevent runaway boards.
- Novice riders often add a stomp pad to their snowboard between the bindings for extra grip. The stomp pad provides an easy resting place for your back foot when you have to move a little distance and have not strapped in your back foot yet.
Get On the Mountain
After getting the proper clothes, safety essentials and gear, you are ready to get on the mountain and start boarding. As snowboarders control their speed by turning, you can begin by learning basic heel and toe turns on a beginner run. Keeping your knees slightly bent and back straight to maintain balance, put weight on one edge of your snowboard to go forward and then redistribute your weight to the other edge to turn. Choose terrain befitting your skill level and take snowboard lessons with an instructor if you want personalized guidance. Most of all have fun and enjoy your time on the mountain!