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Top Tips For Beginner Snowboarders

So, you’ve taken the plunge and committed to hitting the slopes this winter; welcome to the exciting world of snowboarding! Your stoke levels are about to reach new heights as this exciting hobby gives you a reason to get pumped for chilly weather, road trips, and well-deserved apres. 

If this is your first season enjoying snow sports there are a few tips that every snowboarding beginner should know before strapping in and sending-it to fun-town.



1. Preparation

IMAGE | DepositPhotos : ViktoriaSapata

Wake Up On The Right Side Of The Bed 

If this will be your very first day on a snowboard, you’ll no doubt be getting a wee case of the butterflies in the days leading up. Do yourself a favour and resist the temptation of a few-too-many sips of the devil’s sauce the night before; a head full of pain and a mouth full of dust will sap the fun out of a day where patience is key!


Book Online

Avoid long waits and book in advance; lift tickets, gear rentals, and lessons can all be booked online which affords you more time to get out there and crush some laps!

If you’ve committed to snowboarding for the season keep an eye out for season pass deals. You can potentially save hundreds of dollars better spent on sweet gear, lessons, and pricey resort food to fuel the absolute snowboard-slaying machine that is your body.



2. Dress For The Occasion

Dressing appropriately for the snow will transform your first day of snowboarding from a potentially freezing, wet, miserable affair to a day loaded with milestones, high-fives, and ending with big smiles and a hunger for more action.


Fabrics Matter 

Chucking on an extra pair of rugby socks and your warmest jeans is not the way to snowboarding glory – unless you prefer the scenic route lined with frozen toes and soaked bums.

Opt for ONE pair of well-fitting merino or synthetic ski/snowboard socks. Bring a fresh pair for changing into when your feet are steaming at the end of the day – but avoid the temptation of doubling up.
Merino or synthetic long-sleeve leggings and tops make an excellent base layer. These fabrics have moisture-wicking qualities ideal for close contact with the skin.
Outerwear should be rated at least 10k. This refers to the waterproof rating and typically ranges from 5k – 20k. Even though Niseko boasts the lightest and driest powder snow, we still get our warm days and spring slush!
Avoid wearing Cotton. It soaks up moisture from your sweat and the snow and just gets wet. Wet then cold. Cold equals bad.


Layering Is Key

Long, tight-fitting socks that are specifically designed for skiing should be worn inside ski and snowboard boots. Well-fitting socks will keep the feet warm allowing good blood flow and staying in position. A good fit will prevent slipping or bunching inside the boot which avoids discomfort and blisters. Do not be tempted to double up on socks.


Play it Safe

Remember; you are now participating in an X-treme sport and there are associated risks to be aware of. Get a well-fitting helmet with padding. Don’t strap in without it! Even on the bunny slopes a helmet can save you from a nasty concussion.

Another excellent piece of safety gear for all beginner snowboarders is wristguards. You’ll spend a lot of time falling over during your snowboarding journey and your wrists are going to take an absolute pounding until you get used to falling safely. Wrist fractures are the number one injury for all beginner snowboarders so wrap those babies up – especially if your local mountain is prone to icy conditions.



3. Get The Right Gear

To make this section extra easy consider organising rentals for your first day on the mountain. Rental Technicians will be able to find you the right boots, bindings, and a forgiving board to ensure your foray into the world of snowboarding is smooth sailing.


Snowboard Boots

Boots should fit correctly; this means not too tight potentially resulting in numb toes, and not too loose causing your foot to slip when initiating turns.


Choosing A Snowboard

Snowboards come in such a wide variety of brands, and sizes, and with various features and trademarked technologies that it can be a bit daunting to pick the right one for you.

As a beginner, a good rule of thumb is to go with something with a bit of rocker (or reverse camber) as this makes turning a bit more forgiving.

A softer board will also help you initiate turns during the learning phase.

Ensure the board is wide enough that your toes and heels don’t drag on the groomers when turning.


Determining Your Stance 

If you’re setting up your board for the first time you’ll want to know your stance. Regular Stance means you ride with your left foot leading. Goofy means your right foot is leading. To find out which will likely feel more natural to you when you first start riding, consider which foot you would use to kick a ball. If it’s your right foot then you should try Regular Stance with your left foot leading.

Don’t worry – there’s no “right” or “wrong” stance. Goofy Stance isn’t really goofy!



4. Skating

A great way to familiarise yourself with the board and getting around on flat areas is to practice skating.

This is the main method of transport for snowboarders in lift lines and flat zones (unless you have a ski buddy with an outstretched pole!).

Simply unstrap your back foot and use it to push yourself along like a skateboard, when you have a little bit of momentum you can coast by planting your free foot between the bindings.

It feels a bit awkward to start, but it’s a great way to get a feel for the slide of the board on the snow, plus it makes quick work of strapping back in and keeping up with friends. In softer snow, it also helps you glide across the surface instead of trudging through.

When you’re comfortable skating around you’ll have no trouble boarding the chair lifts! Push, and coast…



5. Learning To Turn

Linking your turns is when you advance from the “tutorial level” of snowboarding and really start to unlock the rest of the game. 

The progress for an absolute beginner typically looks something like this:

Doing laps side slipping or ‘leafing’ down the bunny slope. This is when you zig-zag your way down the slope facing forward on your heel edge. This stage will help you build confidence in stopping, edge control, and knee and hip movement to control the direction the board slides. This is also where most beginners slip and those wrist guards you wore start paying dividends. Yay for safety! You will probably also spend an unacceptable amount of time struggling with your bindings. Just do them tight. You’ll be fine.
Executing your first C turns. You might find that starting from your toe edge (facing up the mountain) you can execute an inelegant but functional C turn onto your more-comfortable heel edge so you are facing down the slope again. 
Linking turns. Once you get a feel for putting more weight on your front foot to initiate the C turn from both toe to heel, and heel to toe, you can start linking them to create S shaped turns.


Once you are comfortable with stopping and linking a few turns nothing is stopping you from catching your first chair ride to tackle the green runs!


Turning Tips 

Don’t spend too much time on the bunny slope; Green Runs offer more ride time and more variety of terrain which allows you to master the basics faster. There are also fewer fellow greenhorns to crash into.
Steeper slopes are the kryptonite of every beginner snowboarder. We have an inbuilt instinct to lean back if things are looking too steep to “escape” the fall. This takes the weight off the lead foot which means you can no longer steer. You rapidly accelerate and ultimately bail in an effort to avoid straight-lining into unknown dangers. Lean your weight over your front foot and commit. 
While initiating turns consider the idea of “pedalling”. If you are making a toeside turn you should put weight on your lead foot to press your toes down, while picking up your rear foot. Weight over front foot, weight off back foot. If you can stick to this mantra on the steepest inclines you can ride anything. 
Always look where you want to go and your board will follow. Don’t look at obstacles or your board will follow. 


For real progress in the early stages of snowboarding, we strongly recommend lessons with a Rhythm Rides Instructor. An instructor can quickly identify any mistakes you are making, eliminate bad habits, and fast-track you to more entertaining terrain on the mountain.



6. Lapping The Lifts

If you are already comfortable with Step 4 then skating your way to the chair lift and lining up for the big-boy laps won’t be too daunting. The only thing left is to nail your chairlift mount and dismount!


Boarding The Chairlift

Some chairlifts swoop in at an alarming speed from the perspective of a novice, but as long as you can skate to the boarding mark comfortably (usually a horizontal stripe on the ground) there’s nothing to worry about; just skate into position – when ushered by the lifty – with your front foot strapped in and your back foot free, keep your knees bent and bum low ready to sit, your eyes behind you so you can see the chair approaching to scoop you up, and enjoy the ride! 


Disembarking The Chairlift

This is even easier than loading onto the chairlift; just lift the bar as you approach, keep the nose of your board up, get your rear foot ready to coast, and stand while pushing away from the chair. Just look straight ahead and let the board steer itself until you stop.

Most people tumble because they actively try to steer away from riding companions.

If you do bail on the dismount (it happens to all of us), don’t linger and relish in the moment of your mishap while your friends ready their cameras; move to the side quickly so people on the following chairs can get past.


Chairlift Tips

If you’re riding with a skier try to place them next to your lead foot – this prevents your board from clashing with their skis during the ride up.

Use your unstrapped foot to support your board so all the weight isn’t on your strapped foot.

Don’t be shy; everyone on the mountain is stoked to be there for the same reason as you. The chair is the best place to make a new chum!


Parting Tips

Keep your eyes on your destination – avoid looking at obstacles or the board will follow.
Don’t rest your goggles on your forehead in between laps. They will fill with moisture and you’ll be riding blind for the rest of the day.
Clear snow from between your boot and binding before strapping in. Especially in warmer weather when snow is extra clumpy.
Sunscreen is your friend; slop it on any exposed areas to avoid getting pew-pewed by those solar rays reflecting off the snow.
Watch out for “gaper gap”. Ensure a clean fit between the top of your goggles and the rim of your helmet to avoid a sunburn.
Feeling tired? Make sure you are resting off to the side of ski runs, ensure you have a clear line of sight behind you, and be absolutely CERTAIN you are not taking a breather in the landing zone of any park features.
Don’t linger on the bunny slopes too long; the green runs offer better terrain and more of it for learning.
Tether your boot to your board. you don’t want to be that guy chasing their rogue snowboard as it careens down the mountain on a path of devastation.
Don’t push yourself too hard or you’ll likely injure yourself. Know when to call it a day, lest the season be over barely before it began due to injury.
Bring your favourite slippers; absolutely nothing on god’s green earth beats the feeling of removing steaming snowboard boots at the end of the day and putting your feet into some slippers. It is the very definition of nirvana.
You got this!

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