Few days ago I came back from Sweden and my biggest challenge of this winter is officially done. The first and the last time on a snowboard was in my sweet sixteen. Since then I have skied for a couple of times in Latvia (but it almost doesn’t count – we don’t have big mountains). Basically I am a newbie in winter sports.
New challenge? Why not!
One day a friend of mine offered me to go to Sweden, Åre. I wasn’t sure if it was worth all the money since I didn’t know what to expect from that kind of trip. But then I thought – what the hell – and decided to go. With snowboard.
I called my sister and all my friends who have snowboarding equipment and after two days I was ready to go.
Before Sweden I had never been in a big ski resort, so this was my mountain deflowering. Åre is the biggest ski resort in Sweden and it almost justified my expectations. Regardless on your skills you can find a piste that is suitable for you – small, big, flat, steep or off-piste. The only disappointments were the weather and snow quality.
Since I am pretty reckless, I started with a steep ski run – it was crazy! I fell down really hard so many times, but it didn’t stop me from trying again and again. After few hours I was tired and unsatisfied, because I couldn’t do the simplest moves (my problem – I want it all and I want it now).
After the third day I was exhausted, but finally it almost looked like I was snowboarding. But everything has a price – my knees were covered with bruises and my booty was hurting and swollen. And I felt muscles I didn’t even knew existed.
Overall I honestly can tell you that first days were a nightmare – I cried, I swore and I cursed the person who invented a snowboard and a drag lift.
Snowboarding tips for beginners:
- Patience. It will be your best friend – if you are inpatient like me then you’re screwed;
- Avoid being cold. You’ll need a good thermal top (non-cotton) and a lightweight and waterproof jacket. You can take a hoody in your backpack in case the temperature drops.
- Stay dry. Waterproof gloves and snow pants. If possible, take two pairs of gloves.
- Don’t buy it, rent it! If you already don’t own a snowboard, rent it. It will be cheaper and after all you may end not liking snowboarding.
- Regular or goofy footer? Regular means you snowboard with your left foot forward and goofy means you snowboard with your right foot forward. How can you know never having been snowboarding before? Imagine you are going to slide across an icy puddle on your feet. Run forward and jump into the sliding position. Your forward foot should be in the front binding on a snowboard.
- Get around on the flat with a snowboard. Unstrap one foot and push with your back foot behind you. It definitely will feel unnatural, but you’ll get used to it.
- Avoid catching an edge! The first thing you need to do to avoid catching an edge is to make sure the leading edge always has enough clearance. Don’t let the board go completely flat on snow.
- Snowboard stance. Keep your knees bent and ready to make a direction change.
- Speed is your friend. Most accidents (like catching an edge or slipping out) happen when you’re resisting the fall line and fighting gravity. So here is an absurd advice for beginners – speed is your friend!
- A chairlift. Someone once claimed that there is an unwritten law that goofy riders sit on the left, regular footers on the right and skiers in the middle. This prevents boards from crossing over one another and getting caught. But in reality we sat where there was a free space. The hardest part was to get off the chairlift.
Despite the setbacks, overall it was a great experience. I really challenged myself (and my boyfriend’s nerves) and arrived home in a pretty good mood. After all not everybody is born to be a snowboarder. Now I know that I have tried, I have failed and the thought about snowboarding won’t bother me anymore.
Sure you will fall and you will get hurt, but it’s worth it!