It's all about learning to board on Snö

Boarding on the Brain: Beginners World

Illustration of a binding using a K2 base

Just to clarify I am no expert, officially I have only been boarding on snow three times in the last two months, totalling a meagre 12 hours snow time. I have seen no beautiful alpine resort, but visited the outskirts of Brum undertaking ‘Snowboard in a day‘ @snowdometam

At the moment I’m finding it incredibly difficult to get through a whole day without watching some form of music induced rail riding, board breaking, sometimes jump or deep powder snowboarding. I can only describe the feeling I get as akin to a naughty dirty secret hence I assume a commonly used term Snowporn! I partly blame my cousin Em for suggesting we give it a shot, whilst laying the table for crimbo dinner, but then I also thank her because the feeling snowboarding gives me is phenomenally indescribable.

At 32 my biggest fear was potentially being a little too old to get on a board, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years – when I was younger I couldn’t afford it – now I’m older everyone I know has already been skiing for years, with many seeming to have formed a slight attitude against snowboarders. Even my physio (unrelated knee injury), had an opinion, relaying to me after years of skiing, she’d finally had a go at the start of season, yet had given up after day three because she was fed up of sitting on her ass in the snow.

For someone like me, who had absolutely no experience of boarding a lot of things went through my head ‘Crikey I have no appropriate kit’ ‘Do I do something to prep before the day’ and just the day before ‘OMG I’m gonna smash into a wall and die’… well hello non-branded search engine that rhymes with poodle.

Before I go any further I just need to point out there is a ridiculous shortage of informative, useful content out there that advises a beginner about snowboarding. Therefore I thought I’d use my first blog in an attempt to offer a few words of advice through my beginners experience.

‘What the hell do I need to wear’

As a beginner you will plant your ass and knees in the snow on numerous occasions, but don’t worry even the pros do, most snowboarders achieve great tricks through trial & error and of course practice – so WaterproofTrousers are a must – you can start cheap (10,000 weight fabric) though I would advise getting taped seams – you can buy the elite shit at a later stage when you know you’ll do it again.

It will be cold, it is after all snow. The bonus is its a dry cold so you won’t be chilled to the bone if you dress appropriately – think in layers you can add and take away as you need to, and don’t forget gloves – I bought a simple pair of thermal leggings and wore an already owned, long sleeved Climacool top beneath my already owned fleece and old waterproof drill top (I ended up taking the fleece off midway through).

You’ll be slipping your feet into some pretty sturdy snow boots, if you don’t already have some thick socks buy some! If your prone to blisters I suggest wearing a pair of normal cotton socks beneath them – like you do with new walking boots – it reduces the friction caused by the inflexible materials used in the design of boots and the thick weave of the outer sock.

For clothing that’s about it, I think its safe to say most people nowadays own a decent waterproof outdoors jacket – you do after all live in the rain capital of the world – that jacket should be good enough and in all honesty you ain’t gonna be throwing rodeos any time soon so forking out notes for top of the range gear at this stage, particularly if your in a UK snow centre just makes you look like a bit of a dick.

‘Prep before the big day’

You could try and work out your stance, maybe even choose a leading foot, there are a few suggestions out there for doing this such as ‘which foot do you place first as you walk up the stairs?’ You can even watch some of the terrible American ‘learning to snowboard’ videos – I think my favourite belongs to the snowboardprofessor.com (Step 8: C-Turns) with the use of an SUV, an 80’s style football keeper and what I can only describe as a Monty Python style example of running alignment – (its even funnier if you turn the sound off!).

My advice here is don’t bother doing anything, as excitedly nervous as you are, just turn up on the day, listen to the instructor and give it a go. Part of learning to snowboard is determining what is best for you, you can only do this on an actual board. Don’t worry about the size of your board or your bindings, beginners learn on generic boards and size of the board is adjusted to match your height. Don’t forget your instructors are there to help you and take you through step by step before you get on the slope. They will of cause make adjustments to equipment as needed.

‘OMG I’ll smash into a wall and die’

If, on your first ever go, you can step into your bindings, stay standing on your board all the way down the slope, whilst dodging other learners and specially design slope gradients – all completely unaided by an instructor – well you are probably the snowboarding equivalent of the Messiah, video evidence from the day you were born is needed and yes I’ll be your agent.

I can say with confidence the likelihood of this happening is a billion to one. Not only is it likely that your first trip down the slope is within arms length of your instructor, the first thing you’re taught is braking on your toe and then your heel edge, and you go up and down, up and down, with the guidance of the instructors until you get it. The more you do it the better you get, and your instructor is always looking out for you.


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