by Terry Gardiner

With the media tag of the fastest growing sport in the 90’s snowboarding is a must to learn this season. It is the alpine thing to do at all the fashionable mountain resorts this year, unless you are afraid of learning! I have been snowboarding for 8 years and I finally found an alpine winter sport that I truly love. All the action screenshots you see in this article are of me slamming the slopes!

8 Year Expert
In this 8 year adventure I’ve gone from a real beginner (very humbling to feel what it is like to be on your butt, in the middle of a beginner run and in everybody’s way) to finishing 3rd at the USASA Nationals, in my age group, for the slalom and giant slalom. You don’t think you can teach an old dog new tricks h?

Well this year I’ve taken my fears in hand and entered the slopestyle competitions, which are judged events of snowboards being launched off of ramps that are 2 stories high. It has been quite a learning experience, but in this sport everything is a fun challenge!

In the early days of my snowboarding experience, the skiers looked down their noses at us and most resorts wouldn’t let us on their chair lifts. Then as the younger generation came to the slopes with a snowboard in hand, dreams of living the snowboard lifestyle and lots of money; the ski areas quickly revisited their snowboarding policy and low and behold we were allowed everywhere.

The ski companies saw this tremendous loss of revenue finally started copying the snowboards superior design for handling and ease of turning with new fat powder and parabolic skis. The lowly snowboard has now changed everything in regular skiing except the poles and snowboarding has taken 80% of all new people coming to the slopes for the first time! It is simple to learn if you follow a few secrets and once you master the snowboard it can take you places that skiers only dream about.

What Does it take to snowboard?
For me, the desire to try snowboarding came on after a big snowfall, on a sunny day, in the lake Tahoe area. I was skiing down a groomed run after trying to ski in the powder and falling too many times.

A young snowboarder came up next to me, he carved off the groomed run into the deep powder and was dancing and laughing on his board all the way to the bottom of the run. I couldn’t believe how simple it looked and this kid had mastered the powder that I only could wish to do.

All age groups are snowboarding now with more and more middle aged moms and dads learning so they can follow their kids. Every large ski resort in the world, that allows snowboards, has all the latest and greatest snowboard equipment to rent. All the manufacturers want you to try out their best stuff, so when it comes time to buy you’ll want their brand. This means that they give the ski resorts great equipment for the rental shop and you’ll be renting all the latest snowboard innovations.

The most important prep you’ll ever do!
If you prepare correctly for the first time out on the snowboard, it will be a fun experience. If you don’t prepare for this adventure it can be a long painful day on your rear. I learned that with a few exercises done at home, one can have a easier time learning to snowboard on the slopes. I suggest these simple dry land exercises:

1. Sit on carpet with legs extended straight out, arms behind and palms on carpet. Slide your feet back toward you rear and push down on carpet with hands, lift your butt up and start to stand up. (several sets)

2.While standing (without shoes) rock back and forth from your toes to your heels. (begin slow and increase the time each day)

3.Lay down flat on your back with legs extended. Draw knees up to your chest and then bring them slowly back to the extended position. (several sets)

4. Aerobic exercise such as: jogging, biking, swimming are all important for your preparation and should be done 4 times per week for 40 minutes. This should be practiced for 3 months before the first snowboard class.

This dry land training is very important and if you follow these suggestions after getting the green light from your doctor to do them, you will be able to enjoy your first day on the snowboard more than anyone else doing it that day.

First time follies
The most important thing to learn from this article is that all first time snowboarders must take a beginner snowboard class. Most people who learn from a friend or try it on their own, never want to try it again or they live with a chiropractor. The art of snowboarding is very subtle and an experienced instructor who has taught beginners with your ability can show you the techniques necessary for a quality and successful first day.

Most quality ski resorts have a good first-time snowboarding rental and instruction program, so shop around. Loose, comfortable water-resistant clothing is necessary and wrist supports should be used by those with wrist problems. All these items will be available at the local snowboard shop or ski resort to rent or buy.

The first day on the snowboard is exciting, so get a lot of rest the night before and eat a light breakfast. Make sure to stretch all your limbs and warm up your body before you start the lesson. When you first strap on the board to your leading foot, its seems very cumbersome and heavy but give it some time and you will get used to the feeling. The last thing I will say is that it seems awkward to ride the chairlifts with a board strapped on and even worst to get off the chairlift this way, but if you glide off the chairlift, with your knees bent and the board with your leading foot out in front of you, it will be no problem to learn. The rest is up to you and the instructor, have fun!

If your first experience is good and you are excited about trying it again you just might be hooked on snowboarding. The freedom of carving on the corduroy and feeling of sitting on a tablespoon sliding through the frosting, while you’re riding in the deep powder, is quite addictive.

Although none of the macho, hard core snowboard types will admit it, the feeling of quality snowboarding on a fresh carpet of light snow is like Mikhail Barishnikov dancing in the ballet. Snowboarding offers me more challenge and exhilaration than any other sport I’ve ever loved. It is the easy for me to understand why snowboarding is the fastest growing winter sport in history and soon you will know why.