So, after being inspired by the Olympics last February, SSX Tricky or even a Jeep ad, you're heading out to the mountains on your first snowboarding trip. Excitement, stoke, trepidation, nerves, fear... It's all going on.
For every person who catches the bug, there are ten more who try it for a week or less, get cold/wet/injured and shelve that board for life
Of course, we'll be the first to tell you that this is the very beginning of the journey of a lifetime. If you get this trip right and survive, most likely you'll be hooked for life. Congratulations: an eternity of financial destitution, gloomy summers and knees that literally crackle awaits, but that'll all be made worth it a thousand times over, one turn into a pristine powder line.
But for every person who catches the bug, there are ten more who try it for a week or less, get cold/wet/injured and shelve that board for life. We want less of that! We want more people to be inspired by the simple act of sliding sideways.
As such, here are ten common mistakes many a beginner makes. Already a seasoned shredder? Help a buddy out and send this over to a friend just about to venture off - you could end up with a new riding buddy for life.
"I Can Figure It Out Myself"
Wanna save money and learn it yourself? Sure it was fine for the fore-founders of snowboarding, but they didn't have ski lifts and busy pistes to contend with.
The absolute worst idea is to get your other half or a family member to teach you - cue emotional collapse as they dance round the slope, waiting for you to pick yourself up again after your eighteenth tomahawk. Just don't make matters worse by telling them to go on without you...
Instead, much better to get a professional involved. You know, someone who encounters beginner (sorry, entry-level, to use the industry parlance) snowboarders nigh on every damn day.
Skimping On Gear
"Ah, I'll be alright," they say as they leave the chalet, dressed in jeans and a couple of hoodies, "I went to Blackpool in September once, I can cope with the cold."
Just like you shouldn't overdress for the mountains, you don't want to end up soaking wet and cold, stuck in a blizzard in nothing but a cheap shell from Sports Direct. A proper jacket and pants, designed for use on snow is key.
Likewise, whilst you don't need the fanciest board to start with, asking the rental staff if they 'have anything cheaper out the back' is unlikely to do you any favours, cheapskate.
Not Bending The Knees
If you don't bend your knees, your centre of mass will be higher, making you more likely to fall over.
If you don't bend your knees, you won't be able to properly hold an edge, making you more likely to fall over.
If you don't bend your knees, you won't be able to absorb bumps and dips, making you more likely to fall over.
Bend your knees.
Obsessing Over Black Runs
"Yaa, I totally like went to Val D'Isare and did all the blacks" is not a phrase you'd hear from someone who's actually any good at snowboarding. Just because someone can pick their way/fall down a piste marked as 'black', it doesn't automatically qualify them for the next X Games.
Obsessing over what ambiguous grade of piste you can 'do' is pointless - you should be aiming to challenge yourself in terms of steepness, but keep in control at all times. Rather than steering clear of all a resort's red runs for the week, why not ask a local at the bar (or your instructor) which ones are mellow enough to be tackled first.
Trying To Progress Too Fast...
It's quite a scene at the snowpark on a Friday afternoon - after a week on the hill some riders are gradually stepping up to some of the smaller jumps, whilst their more Darwinian-leaning counterparts shout "Fuck it, I'm going home tomorrow anyway!" as they hurtle uncontrollably towards the XL kicker line.
By all means try and push yourself, but keep it sensible - there's no point trying to whang round pencil-straight 180s if you clearly can't pop enough to make it over the knuckle. A nice controlled straight air feels way nicer to do that throwing yourself backwards into oblivion,
...But Being Intimidated To Try New Stuff
By the same token, you shouldn't be afraid to try new things. If a more experienced member of your group (and by experienced, we mean someone who actually knows what they're doing, not someone who knows how to bray about how much they know during apres) says that the next bit of off piste is totally doable, trust them, don't just slide of saying you'll meet them at the bottom. Snowboarding is adventure - be adventurous.
Freaking Out Over Going Flat Base
The 'rocker revolution' did many great things for snowboarding, but it did leave beginner (sorry, entry level) snowboarders with an ever lasting fear of going flat base.
It's fine, trust us. Those who can know that some of the best fun you'll ever have on a board is bombing hills whilst going flat base, the only thing that's going to buck you off is if you're scared it's going to happen, which leads us nicely to the next point...
Being Afraid of Nailing Yourself
When you are learning to snowboard, you will probably hurt yourself. When you get 'good' at snowboarding, you will definitely hurt yourself.
It's worth it, and if you're not hurting after a day on the hill, you're not trying hard enough.
Whilst learning to snowboard, you'll be using muscles you probably never even thought existed before, let alone ones that you though had anything to do with strapping a board to your feet.
Your arms will hurt from pushing yourself up, your chest will ache from flapping your arms about and your neck will throb from catching your edges. Take a minute when you get in from the hill to stretch out as many muscles as you can think of, properly, for at least thirty seconds each.
Tedious, but the good news is that you can drink tea/beer and watch TV whilst you do it, no really.
Getting Hammered Every Night
Or, as WL and OB staff writer Joe Cavanagh so beautifully put it: "Not Getting Totally Cunted Every Night."
For many, a winter holiday consists of waking up at noon with what feels like a tarantula lodged in your oesophagus, then blearily heading up the hill to find a restaurant with outside seating in order to work on your goggle tan whilst throwing a few of the many Jaegers to come down your neck. In our humble opinion at least, this is what skis were invented for.
By all means go out every night and pour suspect-looking shots into your face until the early hours, but snowboards were created as the ultimate hangover cure. Embrace the last few drops of alcohol left in your system and use them to your advantage - it's how legends are born.
But in all seriousness, unless your name is Roope Tonteri, maybe limit yourself to a couple of pints before your lesson first thing in the morning .