So You Want To Be A Snowboarder? Part 3 – Expectations, Learning and Tips

This is the last part of this series and I’m going to use it to hopefully get you all sorts of stoked about snowboarding.  But, I’m not going to sugar-coat anything and tell you how awesome you’ll be the first time you stand up on a board.  That, most likely, will not be the case.  As well, I’ll try to throw in some stuff that people who have been boarding for a bit might find interesting.  Without further ado, here are some things you should expect mixed in with difficulties and tips for when you start snowboarding.  As always, this is my opinion, meaning there are 100 other views that could most definitely vary from my own, I’m not a pro or anything, I just really like snowboarding, as in, I would take it as a mistress and buy it lots of presents if I could.

First and foremost, when you get to the hill for the first time, DON’T BE AFRAID.  You’re there, you’ve got all your stuff that you’ve spent your money on, either renting or buying, why waste it, just GO FOR IT ALREADY.  Sidebar: For those of you wondering, yes, when I write in all caps, I’m yelling at you.  I know that it’s scary to ride to the top of a big scary mountain seeing as you’re not quite sure if you can make it down, but DO IT.  Don’t rock the bunny hill all day for your first day.  That will afford you so many opportunities to stop and “take a break.”  Breaks are for snowbladers and skiers, and you’re a snowboarder!  Go to the top of a normal sized, easy hill and learn from there.  Obviously go with someone who’s going to teach you, not by yourself.  Your first run can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to get down, but at least you’ll be forced to do it.  After that, you can “take a break.”  And by the end, you’ll probably be turning, which is the biggest hurdle to get over.  Once you turn, you’re done learning the basics and from there it will become more of a struggle with your body and making it do what you want it to.  But with enough practice, you’ll feel just as comfortable with a board strapped to your feet as you do walking to the closest conbini on a warm summer evening, sober.

Make no mistake though, the first 3 days you board, it is going to SUUUCK.  Not just a little either.  You’re gonna fall all over the place and whoever is teaching you is going to laugh, cuz its funny.  You’d laugh too if you watched someone bail a bunch of times.  But that’s fine; everyone has to go through it.  Have fun with it and laugh at yourself.  Take small breaks on the hill and watch (read: laugh at) all the other newbs that are learning.

Generally I’ve found that people have the most difficulty with getting used to going sideways.  If you’ve never done a board sport before, this is gonna feel weird.  As well, you are going to find out about all sorts of muscles you didn’t even know existed.  Your body will hurt in ways you’ve never known (or maybe you do know….ewwww).

More than anything else, make sure you push yourself.  This goes for people that have been at it for awhile as well.  That’s the only way you’ll get to a point where you can slam down a hill at break neck speed and think, “Ah, this is fun,” opposed to, “OOOOHHH SSSSSHHHHIIIIIIITTTTTT!!!!”  Obviously, don’t push so hard that you injure yourself, but always try to improve.  Another tip on improving, when snowboarding you need to be able to go down the hill on both edges of the board:  Your toe edge and your heel edge.  You’ll lead with the same leg all the time (until you’re better) and cut your weight back and forth from one edge to the other.  When starting, everyone is always better at riding on one of these edges than they are on the other.  Do whatever is the least comfortable, A LOT.  Once you get the hang of one way and you realize you’re a natural at it, don’t ride that out, you’ll never get good just riding one edge down the whole mountain and it will absolutely crush your legs.  Do whatever is harder for you.  Eventually you’ll even out.  I don’t even remember what I was good at to start with anymore, because eventually you will be equal with both, how long that takes depends on how much you push yourself.

A few other tips:

The more you go, the better you get.”  Don’t expect to go one weekend for a day on the bunny hill taking breaks every 30 min and then return to the slopes 3 weeks later and be exactly where you left off.  If you go every weekend, you’ll be wicked in no time.

Always try to board with someone who is better than you.”  It’s the best way to learn.  Watching as well as asking questions will help you learn a lot faster.  A person who is better than you will keep you pushing yourself to keep up.  This goes for the veterans too; I’m always looking to board with someone who is way the hell better than me as it allows me to learn more and attempt to get better than Estey.

It’s not all about the speed.”  If you take your time getting down the hill that’s totally fine.  Guys get caught up in this more than girls do as there is generally a lot of competition i.e. Grant telling everyone that he’d be the best snowboarder in the ken by the end of his first season, feel free to watch his 180 attempt from his second year that I attached to the first article to see how that turned out for him.  At the end of the day, boarding is all about technique.  The better your technique the more stable you’ll be on a board.  It’s ok if someone on their 2nd day can bomb down the hill a lot faster than you can.  Chances are that by mid-season, you’ll be slamming past them, totally stable on your board as they’re crashing into trees trying to catch up.

Lastly, please don’t take all of this too seriously or let it flip you out.  I’m just trying to give people an idea of what’s ahead.  If you’re still sitting on the fence about boarding I hope that these articles swayed you towards trying it out.  You now live in a snowboarding Mecca, why not make use of it.  If you’re really stoked for the season, I’ll see you on the slopes.  At the end of the day, snowboarding is all about getting out in the winter months and doing something that’s fun with everyone else.  Don’t spend your winter hidden away under your kotatsu whatever you do.

As always, I’ll teach anyone, anytime at ALTS or Nekoma (where I plan to spend every weekend).  Hit me up anytime and I’ll go out with you or talk someone else into teaching you.  But whatever you do, don’t learn from Grant or Moffat! Happy Boarding!!

Here’s a full out highlights and lowlights video to leave you with. I’m linking it from the facebook group, so, if you’re not a member it might not work. Sorry.

Fukushima Snowboarding 08-09

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