General Question

gsiener's avatar

If you had two weeks to go from newbie to comfortable on a snowboard, where would you go?

Asked by gsiener (405 points ) November 29th, 2007

I want to get into snowboarding, I think. I’m an intermediate skier already…

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3 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Speaking from experience (and also as a fairly good skiier turned snowboarder)... take a lesson so that you can get the proper form. The most valuable thing I learned during that time is to keep your knees bent, lean forward slightly and keep your hands more or less still at your belt buckle. Once you feel comfortable, get good at turns by really leaning into them and committing your body weight to the turn. If it’s not icy, your edge will keep you dug in.

Also, you’ll want to be deliberate about your time on catwalks, which will totally burn out one side of your legs if you travel in one direction too long. It’s just painful after a while, mainly.

As far as where to go, I’m only familiar with ski areas in NM and CO, so I don’t know if that helps. You’ll want to go somewhere, though with powder/packed powder conditions, a good bunny hill, and ideally that offers wide open green and blue runs that don’t flatten out to the point where you’d have to skate on skis, since you’ll have to dismount and walk or push like a skateboard. You also don’t want moguls.

Packed powder is okay, it’s just that you fall harder on a snowboard, and the run won’t be as forgiving when you turn. Powder is better for later in your trip, once you’re comfortable with some speed and getting into turns. Also on powder, you’ll want to lean back (i.e. uphill) to keep your nose up.

A day on the bunny hill, though, is invaluable, because you’ll get a great opportunity to practice your form while turning, plus you’ll have to buckle and unbuckle multiple times and mount and dismount the lift a number of times. After two seasons, I still fall more often than not getting off the lift.

Also, if you can, go with other snowboarders rather than skiiers. Snowboarding, especially at a beginner level, requires different terrain and rhythms during a run than skiing.

As far as cost goes, stick to the criteria above and go with whatever’s within your budget. I would reiterate that with a group, it’s more fun to snowboard with snowboarders and ski with skiiers. I think each has it’s merits and that it’s possible to enjoy both, although I personally want tougher terrain when I ski and cruising, open terrain when I snowboard.

Lastly, have a great time. I may get on the slopes this weekend, and I’m stoked!

andrew's avatar

Absolutely, positively get a lesson. Many times, too, you can speak to a group instructor about giving you a private lesson under the table for cheap.

How is your balance sport aptitude? Do you rock climb? Surf? Dance? If so, you’ll be able to pick it up fairly quickly.

I switched from skiing (for 12 years) to snowboarding a few seasons ago. IMHO the most important thing is to not be afraid to fall (wear a helmet)... I feel like many people get so scared of turning their back downslope that they become rigid and end up falling anyway… I jumped right in, fell a few times, and was boarding down blues my first day.

Also, accept the fact that you’re going to feel like a real idiot for a bit and resist the temptation to go back to skiing… Just remember how uncomfortable the boots are!

Best of luck!

amber's avatar

1. If you have money for a plane ticket, lift tickets, hotel, rentals, etc . . . Go to Brighton Bowl, in Salt Lake City, UT. Brighton is designed for Snowboarders and Salt Lake City area has the best powder in the continental US (Alaska excluded . . . Valdez truly has the best powder). The Great Salt lake produces a phenomena that creates cold, dry snow. Brighton has a beginners snowboarding park and they give great lessons. I brought my dad there to learn how to snowboard. While he went back to his old-style Telemark Skis (yep the ones with the leather boots and skinny skis), he did have fun on the snowboard and wasn’t too beat up from the falls (thanks to the SLC powder). Stay in either big or little cottonwood canyons (on the lake side of the Wasatch Mountains) better snow than the Park City side. Lift tix are approximately $60/day and rentals about $30, you can usually get a package deal that includes lessons. Lodging can be more than $100/night and food depends on how much you eat. Plane tickets vary from $150 – $600. You can spend a few $k on this trip.

2. If you are on a lower budget, drive to your nearest ski area and take 1/2 day lessons from some cute instructor. If you are in CA, I would recommend Mammoth. It is a 4 hour drive into the Sierras, south of Tahoe. Mammoth gets better powder than Tahoe . . . it is a bit drier. I have only been to Mammoth twice, but had a great time while I was there. Lodging is reasonably priced in Mammoth (compared to Tahoe or SLC). PS. I would recommend taking the instructor out for drinks after your lesson. Lift tickets and rental prices are comparable to SLC. You can spend close to $1k on this trip.

3. If you have no money, borrow a friend’s snowboard (and if you know a cute snowboard instructor or massage therapist, invite them along), hike up to a Forest Service Cabin (anywhere in the western states) with snowshoes, dragging a sled with enough food, booze and firewood to keep you warm for a couple of weeks. Find a good gentle slope without too much powder or too many trees. Ideally you want between 4” – 1’ of powder on top of a few feet of packed snow. If you get in too deep of powder, it is really hard to learn. Hike up the side of the slope and strap in, and go down. You will probably fall a lot and get completely beaten up, but that is what the booze and massage therapist are for. You will eventually pick it up and at the end of two weeks you will be in great shape after hiking so much, plus you may have a new romance with the snowboard instructor/massage therapist. This is how I learned. Now 12 years later, I love it (although I dumped the snowboard instructor and the massage therapist). You can spend less than $200 on this trip.

:-)

Amber

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