We’ve all experienced it. Surfing through the channels, a flash of color grabs our attention, and our clicker finger pauses long enough that we witness some sort of gravity defying maneuver on ESPN VII. We focus in and watch as snowboarders hurl their bodies above the lip of a half pipe, twisting and flipping with feet securely fastened to a board, with only a thin piece of polyester between their skull and the hard packed snow. Securely snuggled into our couch, we think they are crazy, but we wonder: What joy and momentary freedom one must feel to soar through the air with such confidence!
This year Colorado, Utah and the Northwest are experiencing some of the best snow in numerous winters, and conditions are ideal for snowboarding; and the conditions are especially good for learning how to snowboard. If you haven’t tried snowboarding, this is your year to get off the couch and experience some of the joy and freedom found on the slopes.
Here are some of the basics so that you too can go and enjoy snowboarding and experience the winter beauty of God’s creation. You might also be surprised to see how lessons in snowboarding are easily transferred to lessons in life:
Be patient with yourself. To be good at anything takes time, and I can promise you that you will not intentionally do any inverted maneuvers as a beginner.
Trust the guidance of an expert. Getting fitted for equipment is one of the most important steps for someone beginning to snowboard. Uncomfortable boots and a wrong sized board will make anyone miserable and learning difficult.
You will fall and stumble at times. You fell while learning to walk. You crashed trying to ride a bike. You will fall while snowboarding. The great powder this year helps to cushion those falls; take advantage of it. Any beginner will quickly love to appreciate soft powder.
Don’t try to always feel comfortable. Snowboarding is a gravity sport like mountain biking, skateboarding or wakeboarding. Can you remember when you learned to ride a bike? The best tip was to keep peddling! A little momentum helps you balance in snowboarding. It is easier to stay upright with a little bit of speed, and that may take you out of your comfort level at times.
Maintain good balance. When going down the slope, keep your knees bent and your arms out slightly. Keep your center of gravity over the top of the board.
Avoid the path of least resistance. You will notice that the board will want to naturally take the path of least resistance down the mountain. You control the board by being on its edges and shifting your weight to your toes to turn your frontside into the mountain and shift your weight to your heels to turn your backside into the mountain. Staying on these edges of the board gives you control. With current powder conditions, most resorts are now experiencing these edges are easier to hold and crashes are easier to avoid during the transfer from edge to edge.
You will go the direction of your focus, so be deliberate. When transferring your weight to an edge, be deliberate about it by also turning your head and looking at the direction you would like to go. Use your hips to snap that back foot forward when transferring to your heel side, and shift your weight to your front foot and kick your back leg back when shifting to a toe side edge. Still, keep your balance by having your knees slightly bent, your weight over the top of your board and your arms out from your side.
Take necessary precautions. Wear a helmet, goggles and clothes that will keep you dry because you will take some falls, and you will spend some time sitting in the snow.
Invite some friends along for the journey. Like a lot of activities, snowboarding is probably best enjoyed with good friends who can encourage you and can share the experience as well as participate in the adventure. Enjoy![Reese Ferguison lives in Boise, Idaho, 16 miles from the nearest ski lift. He has been snowboarding for about 10 years and accidentally ingested enough powder to have learned a little from his mistakes, and still enjoys every minute of it.]
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