“Try not to think about falling over.”
This is officially the worst advice you can give to anyone who is learning to snowboard.
The poor guy was only trying to help but I glared at him through my goggles with a look that I hoped would kill. If I had the energy I would have taken my board off and battered him over the head with it. Luckily for him I didn’t have an ounce of energy so I continued to do what I’d been doing for the past three days, I fell over. Again and again and again.
I’d just about had enough. My wrists and forearms were so sore that I had to hold a pint glass with two hands. My knees were covered with bruises that varied from a bluish black to a yellowy brown.
I watched the other snowboarders with pure hatred as they carved down the mountain. I hated every single one of them. I hated the way they made it look so easy, so cool. I hated their baggy pants and their effortless style and I hated the fact that they could do it and I couldn’t.
And then, all of a sudden, it clicked.
Without even knowing how I was doing it I was gliding down the mountain, carving up the powder (yes, they actually say that), turning from my heels to my toes and generally looking like one of those cool snowboarders that I hated just 30 minutes ago (well, almost).
It was my final day on the slopes when I finally managed to get the hang of it and I suddenly realised what all the fuss was about. I’m not afraid to admit that I was pretty scared about learning but I’m glad I persisted.
Here are my top tips for anyone else who is learning to snowboard:
Don’t give up
You’ll feel like shit and you’ll ache like hell but you’ll never learn if you give up.
It will take a couple of days to find your balance and I’m not just talking about the balance on your feet. I mean the balance between being confident and cocky, the balance between being too hot and too cold and the balance between getting some speed and up and being downright suicidal.
I’m talking about the kind of stuff that’s going to protect your wrists – the two things that you’ll fall on the most. Wrist guards are recommended and I know a lot of people who like bum guards too (although I think my natural padding protected me pretty well!)
Have half day lessons
If it’s your first time you’ll need some kind of training and I’d recommend going for half day lessons. This gives you the chance to learn the skills with a professional and then practise what you’ve learnt in your own time and at your own pace. All day lessons are pretty intense but can be good if you’ve got the cash to splash and you’re prepared for some serious dedication.
Consider learning before you leave
I had a full day lesson at an indoor ski slope before I left so I could do the basics when I arrived which gave me a bit more confidence.
Make the most out of après-ski
Between about 5-7pm you’ll find that all the bars serve cheap drinks to reward you for your hard day on the slopes. Make the most of it early on and stop drinking earlier so you wake up with a fresh head the next day.
Remember that the snow is the best hangover cure ever
If you ignore the advice above then take note of this advice: If you’ve hit it hard the night before and wake up with a hangover from hell, drag yourself out of bed and get on the slopes; you’ll feel right as rain in no time.
I’m hardly an expert snowboarder so I’m keen to hear your advice or experiences from your first time snowboarding or skiing.
The guys at Propellernet made this really cool skiing video wall. It gives you a perfect insight into a day on the slopes so you’ll know exactly what to expect if it’s your first time!