6 February 2017

So you want to learn to snowboard?

beginner snowboarding tips and advice Tignes
I was given a whole lot of advice when I started learning to snowboard; some of it was helpful and some of it was not.
Over the last nine years I’ve tried group lessons, a private tutor and one scary afternoon winging it in Switzerland.

And while I haven’t mastered snowboarding just yet, this is what I wish I’d known before I started.

You will read into it too much

"The only way I can properly prepare for my first snowboarding trip is to read as much as I possibly can," I cried to my exasperated other half as I read another 10-things-you-must-do-if-you-want-to-be-a-cool-snowboarder-and-not-get-laughed-at-by-everyone article.

I shouldn’t have bothered.

Thanks to those kinds of ‘practical’ guides, I spent a good hour panicking abut having an acceptable gap in between my goggles and my beanie.

Waste. Of. Time.

You will disregard the opinion of a seasonaire

One chilly day in Tignes, I sat down for a well-deserved croque monsieur after a few hours on the nursery slope. I was painfully aware that I was a sweaty, dishevelled mess.

It was March, and the girl next to me was immaculately dressed, decked out in latest snowboarding getup. She turned to her friend, and with a pristine face of makeup I heard her mutter: "I've been here since December but I've only been out boarding twice."

God, that croque monsieur tasted good.
best tips for first time snowboarder switzerland

You will beg, borrow and steal

Getting all the gear together for a snowboarding trip is expensive.

Save; grab those pricey ski socks your parents have kept hidden in their sock drawer since Christmas. Put a shout out on Facebook to beg your snowboarding doppelgänger for last season's ski jacket.

And don’t waste your time buying snowboards, bindings and boots right away. I hired perfectly good (and reasonably priced) equipment almost every time.

You know what you’ve got if you do all that? Beer money.

You will benefit from a lesson

As kind as Rob’s offer to teach me skiing was, I knew spending a day in the Alps with his 20+ years of experience would only end in disaster.

And by disaster I mean having a major domestic halfway down a blue run. I’m not a great student.

For me booking lessons is a worthwhile expense.

All the groups I’ve been a part of (and there’s been a few) have been full of nice folk ranging from late teens to mid 40s. They all understand an aching coccyx, a hungover morning lesson and will always be first to cheer when you master that ski lift.

If you’re considering a private lesson I found it really useful after I’d tried a few group sessions. I was able to build on what I already knew and really notice a difference.

You will have an off day

I was fully prepared to have an off day (or seven), but I didn’t realise the form it would take.

My weakness is a button lift. Halfway through a week of lessons, I fell off one for what felt like the 100th time in front of a huge queue of people. I was in no mood for LOLz.

Instead, I defiantly dragged my board up the green run by hand, steaming up my ski goggles with exhausted tears and croaking ‘bonjour’ at every bloody five year old that flew by absolutely killing it.

There was only one place I could think of for answers; Cooler Magazine.

You will be required to relax

Oh yes. Après ski. The phrase more people understand than je suis un snowboarder. From soaking in a hot tub to tallying up retro one-piece sightings, it's not just off the slopes that chilling is encouraged.

You’re actually meant to relax a bit on the slopes too. One instructor had to keep reminding me to breath when I attempted a toeside turn. No exaggeration.

And for snowboarding in particular it's all about being lazy. The more you relax, breathe and balance, the sooner all of those seemingly impossible instructions start to click.


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