Snowboarding for Dummies

By Doug Williams
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Snowboarding for Dummies

Doug Williams
 
 
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The snow is falling, and there is a deep layer of fresh powder.  You eye up the fresh fall and rather than dragging out the skis you turn toward the thought of snowboarding. This exciting and exhilarating means of enjoying snow gives one a combination of skateboarding with surfing, and there is nothing like the sensation of flying down a slope, gently carving lines in the pristine conditions.

The board

Consider renting some different boards before you decide which to buy
Consider renting some different boards before you decide which to buy

For the beginners, there are a few things to consider before launching oneself into the white stuff. The first thing to have is the board. There are many different snowboards on the market, but until you are sure that this is the sport for you, it is perhaps better to rent a board and try it out first. There are basically two major types of board available; a freeriding board is designed for riding downhill, and a freestyle board is designed for the tricks and jumps that you often see on television.

Design of the board

All boards are similar in shape to a skateboard, with bindings for your feet on the top, and most boards are designed with the front and rear shaped to a curve. Snowboards have differing degrees of flexibility, and the more flexible the board, the easier it is to maneuver, but the more difficult it is to control, so speak to the rental shop about a beginners board that manages these two variables and get a board that a beginner can start off with.

Bindings

Learn to snowboard using flexible beginners bindings
Learn to snowboard using flexible beginners bindings

Once you have a board selected, look at the bindings. These are designed to attach the board to your feet. The first significant difference between ski bindings and snowboard bindings is that a snowboard binding is not designed to automatically release if you crash. Your beginner bindings will consist of a plate to attach your boots to with basic ratchet bindings.

Boots

Next, we need to equip you with boots. There are many styles of suitable boots on the market, ranging from good old-fashioned leather to the latest in modern materials. The boots usually have blunt, rounded toes and you will need a size larger than your normal shoe size.

Costs

Renting all this equipment should set you back around $50 per day, and it is a good place to start. If you decide to buy a board and boots, then take at least $450 with you to pay for decent quality kit.

Left or right foot

You will have to decide which foot you want to have in the front as this will determine how the bindings are fitted to the board. Most people will lead with their left foot forward, but there are some who are more comfortable with a goofy-foot stance (right foot forward). You will naturally feel more comfortable with one or other foot forward and have your bindings fitted accordingly.

Starting

Start out with mastering the basics on a learner slope
Start out with mastering the basics on a learner slope

Now you are ready to try the snow. Place your front boot onto the base plate and tighten the bindings. Your boot should be placed across the width of the board with the toes over one edge and the heel against the other edge. If you are on a flat surface, push with your back foot in a manner similar to propelling a skateboard. Slide gently along on the board, concentrating on your balance. When you want to try a slope, ratchet in your back foot and gently push off down the slope. Gravity will do the rest.

Naturally, you are going to pick up speed, so concentrate on your balance by keeping your arms stretched out in front of you, bending your knees and keeping your center of gravity as low down as you can. Don’t try any dangerous turns; just concentrate on keeping both the front and rear of the board from digging into the snow. Either the front or the back digging in will cause you to crash.

Maneuver

Stopping is accomplished by bringing both feet perpendicular to the slope and using the board to scrape along the snow, building a heap that will bring you to a stop. Turns need serious concentration to start with. You will need to manage your weight distribution by leaning side to side and backward or forwards while using the front and back of the board for steering and managing your speed.

Warning: the excitement of snowboarding can become addictive!
Warning: the excitement of snowboarding can become addictive!

To save yourself a great deal of frustration and to make sure you don’t give up before feeling the exhilaration of flying down a slope, visit your local ski area and inquire about some basic lessons. This will be $75 to $100 well spent and will save you some serious bumps and bruises. The instructors will also be able to guide you on the choice of board, and the lessons could be a great deal cheaper than medical care!

Learn to snowboard, and you will have a winter sport to rival any other for exhilaration. You will find yourself riding the lift and flying down slopes all winter long

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