Getting Started

I never really had any interest in Snowboarding until I was watching Entourage, on July 17th, 2005! At the end of the episode, which was "the Sundance Kids", the crew is at the top of a mountain in Utah, when Vince gets a call from James Cameron to offer him the Aquaman role. That scene was literally responsible for inspiring me to go out and buy a snowboard. And it's the best thing I ever did, because I fell in love that winter and haven't looked back. I plan on being married to this sport for a long, long time. Even if I get sent to "married with children" prison (or I should say when I get sent!) I plan on getting a few conjugal visits in every year at a minimum.

But since I literally didn't have 1 friend who was even experienced in the sport, I had to do a little research before I got into it. If you want to get into the sport, here's my advice.

Learn The Basics

Before you do anything, take some time to get acquainted with some of the major facets of snowboarding:

A history

Snowboarding was pioneered during the late '60s and early '70s by guys who wanted to surf in the winter. In fact, in those days it was called "Snurfing." Those first snowboards were small, wooden, and difficult to control. Then Tom Sims, Jake Burton, and Chuck Barfoot devoted their time to creating better snowboards and promoting the sport. As the popularity of snowboarding increased (especially in the 1980s), media coverage and large-scale competition brought the sport to the public's attention. Today snowboarding is a one of the fastest growing sport in America.

Snowboarding is actually a lot like skiing except the bindings are aligned sideways on one wide board rather than forwards on two skinny sticks. Also, snowboard bindings do not release, so once you're strapped in, you're in there for good. This set up leads to fewer knee injuries and less time searching for that lost ski. Plus, unlike most skiers, snowboarders do not use poles, and snowboard boots are often "soft" instead of the "hard" boots worn by skiers.

Since you are positioned on the board sideways, one foot must be in front (the "lead") while the other foot is in the back. If your left foot leads, then you are "regular" footed. If your right foot is in front, then you are "goofy" footed. Here's are a couple ways to figure out which is your dominant (thus "lead") foot:

Regardless of whether your stance is regular or goofy, there are three main styles of snowboarding:

If you're unsure of which style to choose, just start with freeriding and get used to the feeling of snowboarding. You'll see plenty of different types of boarders out on the slopes doing all kinds of styles; see which one looks the best and tackle that style next.

Get The Equipment

The three Bs: the board, the boots, and the bindings. These are the three most important pieces of equipment.

Board

Snowboards are almost always made of a wooden core wrapped in fiberglass and encased in a plastic or fiberglass cap with metal edges. The top of the board is known as the deck while the bottom is the base.

The two most important considerations are its length and waist width. Measured in centimeters, the length of the board depends on the rider's weight, height, and riding style, while the width usually depends on the size of the rider's foot. Here's how to pick the right board:

Boots

Most snowboarders' boots are known as "soft boots," due to their construction with soft materials such as waterproof leather and nylon. When picking out a pair, here's what to consider:

Bindings

Bindings (that is, the straps) are what connect your feet to the board, so they're pretty important. When choosing a binding, keep in mind that your choice of boots will affect your choice of bindings and vice versa; they must complement each other:

When the time comes to attach the bindings to the board, consider both your stance width and stance angles:

Narrower stances allow the board to flex more easily, while wider stances give more rotational maneuverability (make spinning easier). Freestyle riders generally have wider stances (the bindings are farther apart) with their stance angles at around 0° (meaning their feet point directly across the board). Alpine riders have narrow stances with their feet pointed towards the front of the board. As always, ask the salespeople to help you with these numbers.

Bottom line. Play around with different set ups. Use what feels comfortable for you. As you progress, this will change.

Renting

A note on equipment: Snowboarding can be really expensive, which is why I suggest you rent your equipment first few times out. Here's the lowdown on rentals:

New boards range from $350-600; boots: $150-250; bindings: $130-200; complete set-ups: $600-1000+ (look for package deals). Although pricey, the snowboard market is seasonal, so shops often have deep discounts during the summertime. But if you are going to have special requirements like wanting a particular board or an odd shape, inventory tends to be lower so check around at different shops.

Dress For The Weather

You need to get the proper gear in order to enjoy yourself. It's really important that you stay warm and dry or you are going to be miserable on the mountain all day because you'll be falling all day. At least the first day. There's nothign like cold to enhance pain.

I recommend a three-layer system, which allows for the most flexibility in changing weather conditions:

When suiting up, dress for colder than predicted. On your hands, you will need some waterproof gloves or mitts, which should also be rugged, breathable, and tough. On your dome piece, you will want some sort of hat or headband to retain that 90% of heat that can be lost through your head. Additionally, try to wear goggles rather than sunglasses. And don't forget that SPF 15 sunblock to keep you from frying like a lobster. Some beginners also like to wear wrist guards under their gloves to keep from breaking those feeble bones.

Keep in mind that clothing also follows a seasonal market, so be prepared to shop, beg, and bargain when outfitting yourself for the winter.

Get To The Mountain

Once you've got all the stuff, now you have to figure out where to go:

To find a resort... GoSki.com.

Take A Lesson... Seriously

You NEED at least 1 snowboarding lesson. In the first year, I took 2. And then I took one in the beginning of the second year, and it really helped me solidify my stance, understand the mechanics of my stance, improve my abilty to turn, and most importanly, the instructor explained to me better than anyone else how to properly set up my board for my riding style and my body type. Here are the benefits of lessons:

Just take one lesson and see how you feel. If your friends clown you, then lie and say you got the lesson for free, so you might as well use it. That's if you care what they think. If you are like me and couldn't care less what your friends think, it's not a problem.

Here's what to expect in a snowboarding lesson:

And now you're all set to hit the slopes.

PS: don't forget to warm up and stretch. Your body will thank you the next morning.

 

 

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.         -Mark Twain

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