So, you’re thinking about going skiing or snowboarding for the first time. You don’t really know what to expect. You have no idea if you’ll like it. I say do it anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? But there are some things that people just don't tell you about when you're just starting out. It always helps to be a little prepared so here’s the real truth on what to expect which will have you shredding down the mountain in no time!
Your body is going to hurt. In places and muscles that you didn’t know you had. A lot of people ’train’ for a skiing or snowboarding trip in advance and whilst that definitely helps with building up the muscle groups you are going to use, nothing can really prepare your body for the actual activity itself. When you are learning, your body uses max effort. Most of it is spent fighting the movements that you need to do to stay upright, because they feel so foreign to you. You’ll also spend a whole lot of time picking yourself up off the snow, it will feel like you did 100 burpees by the end of the day.
Your boots are NOT too small. Ski and snowboard boots do not fit like a comfy pair of running shoes. Your toes will touch the end of your boot and they will be snug. Too much foot movement in your boot means not enough control when you are skiing or snowboarding. I recommend getting them fitted by a professional whether you are buying them or renting them. You’ll hear sighs of relief from people as they take their boots off and you’ll understand why.
Take lessons, but NOT from your friends or significant other. It’s almost definite that someone attempting to teach their significant other or friend how to ski or snowboard will end in some sort of frustrated argument. I speak from experience. TBT to me tomahawking down a mountain in Queenstown and losing all my gear in the process like a cheap garage sale. It wasn’t pretty, but that’s a story for another time. Unless they are a professional ski or snowboard instructor, save the frustration, do it right and get proper lessons. With proper lessons, you won’t pick up bad habits and you will pick up how to ski or snowboard at a much faster rate.
Your first ride on the chairlift is going to be freaky. The first time is weird, and a little scary. Especially as a snowboarder, there seems to be an extra amount of coordination required. Your goal is to get on and off without taking out the other people on the chairlift. If it happens, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I’m clumsy as hell so it took me a long time to be able to get off a chairlift properly. And sometimes even now, I’ll lose all coordination and find myself on my ass. Go with someone you know the first time, watch others getting on and off, and if you chat to the liftie nicely, they might even slow the lift down for you when you get on and off.
Speaking of chairlifts, DON'T stop in the middle of the off ramp run off. So once you get off the lift, move on and get out the way. Assembling right in the middle of the run off makes you a target, just like pins in ten pin bowling. People getting off the lift have nowhere to go, so more than likely they will crash into you.
Don’t sit or stop at blind spots on the runs. It’s true, the general rule is that the person below you has the right of way, but if you are sitting at the bottom of a roller, then you’ll be very hard to spot as someone comes over that roller. Being taken out and breaking a shoulder is never fun, so stack the odds in your favour and stay visible.
Prepare for it to be unbelievably epic and give yourself at least 5 days. A lot of the points I’ve mentioned above might sound like negatives, but trust me, they will become fond memories and form the basis of some great stories. The first 5 days can be frustrating whilst you are learning, but stick with it. There will be a moment where it all clicks into place. It’s like an epiphany, suddenly it all makes sense and you understand why people love it so much. And before you know it, you’ve become hooked.
And if you're still not convinced, then read my post on That Time When I Never Wanted To Snowboard Again.
Now go out there and get started!
If you're a seasoned skier or snowboarder, what tips would you give to your beginner self? Let me know in the comments below!
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Jen spends most of her time following Mick around the mountain, often unintentionally off jumps and cliff drops. Currently on a mission to prove that you’re never too old to try freestyle. Aside from snowboarding, a little obsessed about tattoos, CrossFit, saving animals, learning to play the guitar and clean eating. Web designer and digital marketing nerd.