Ever since Jake Burton started making snowboards, it was in his best interest to get others to try it, to love it, and to get more people to do it.
So as much as we like to point out that we've been making snowboards since 1977, we've also been encouraging others to snowboard for that same amount of time. Not much has changed, except just about everything when it comes to the product. So with that, here are some key tips to keep in mind if you’re ready to drop in for the first time.
As generous as it is for a friend or family member to give or loan you a board and some bindings, maybe even boots – consider rental product. Actually, don’t consider it, just do it. Local shops and just about every resort on the planet have rental setups ideal for those ready to begin their snowboard life. Like Burton's Learn to Ride gear, these boards are designed to flex a little easier and shaped to make turning and stopping a far more subtle experience. They’re not race boards by any means, and you will advance beyond their capabilities quickly enough that renting one makes sense on several levels. You know those kid bikes with no pedals? Same concept.
Added Tip: Contact the resort or shop and talk to them about when you plan on heading to the mountain and when the best time might be to get measured up. Resort rental shops in the morning can be shear chaos.
If this is truly your first time, take a moment the night before and do two things: take a look at the forecast, and organize what you need the next day. You know your comfort zone better than anyone, so what you wear should be a personal decision. However: Layering allows for flexibility, and cotton kills. No one is expecting you to outfit yourself for an expedition to the farthest northern outpost, but jeans are terrible in the snow if not just a style faux pas at nearly every resort. If it has to happen, so be it. Just keep yourself dressed for movement, so don’t overdo it. Clothing aside, if you have the gear already, put your boots on, and strap into your board. Doing those kinds of things in the comfort of wherever you are can ease your mind when it’s time to go.
Be More Prepared
Relax, it’s snowboarding and it’s supposed to be fun. That said, it’s snowboarding and it’s a sport, so be prepared to be exhausted your first time out, and probably the second … or every time after that. As with anything physical, some healthy preparation will make a difference. You should know this, but let’s list them out:
Fuel: Eat something in the morning so you’ve got the energy you will need.
Hydrate: Drink a bottle of water on the drive or the walk from the condo. Repeat that when you can.
Stretch: Without turning this into a yoga piece, if you can limber up your calves, hamstrings and thighs (quads) you’re on the right track. Anything is better than nothing, and if nothing else, a morning stretch will remind you that you are embarking on a physical effort.
Your first day may involve a good amount of walking up a small hill. It will involve completely training new muscle memory on the subtle balance it takes to go from edge-to-edge … a term that will make sense after you visit a professional.
Homeschooling has its merits, but when it comes to learning how to ride, go work with a complete stranger who has experience teaching you how to do it – take a lesson. Two basic things to consider:
a) Their sole interest is helping you learn how to snowboard, and they will strive to find the means to find your personal pathway to get there, i.e. they excel at patience.
b) Teaching someone to snowboard takes more than just knowing how to snowboard. Most coaches and instructors have worked with hundreds of mind, body and soul equations, meaning that as unique as you are, they’ve taught “you” before.
Group lessons can provide support and even a good chance to find a riding buddy. Private lessons give you one-on-one counsel and undivided attention. Privates are often more pricey, but they have the potential to yield a fast progression.
Added Tip: Resorts typically reward private lessons to coaches that deserve the work (the pay rate is often better for privates) and who are going to represent the mountain best (see: success and potential return revenue). So a private lesson isn’t just about one-on-one instruction, it can ensure you’re going to get the best instruction they have to offer.
Follow this advice and you are well on your way to riding the lift and understanding why on snowy nights people will practically sleep in their cars to be first in line when the lifts open. So give it a go, relax, and never be afraid to ask for help.∆