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Fitness & Sports

How-To Snowboarding

1. Stance
First, you are going to need to choose a board. I would recommend renting a board first, because a professional will set you up with the proper gear, and it is much cheaper than buying one. Before getting started you need to choose a stance. In snowboarding there are two stances, regular and goofy. Regular is the most common stance where your right foot goes in the rear binding. When riding goofy your left foot is in the rear. You can determine your stance multiple ways. Have a friend push you from behind, and whatever foot you step with fist should be your front foot. If this does not work try sliding on ice or a polished floor in your house. Whatever foot is forward while you are sliding should be your front foot. If neither one of these things work, it’s common to have a dominant foot, just like a dominant hand. If you are right handed put your right foot in back, and if you are left handed put your left foot in back. Your back foot does most of the steering, and if you are uncomfortable try both see which one feels better. Next, figure out your stance width. Usually you want your width to be the same width as your shoulders, but if that is not comfortable just adjust until it feels good.

2. Moving with one foot attached and getting on/off Ski lift
Put your front foot into the binding on the board and leave your back foot out. This is going to feel somewhat awkward, but over time you will get use it. Find a flat space on the mountain and push yourself with your back foot. The motion is similar to a skateboarding motion. Give yourself a few pushes, and then put your back foot in the middle of your board between the bindings and glide for a few feet. If you constantly push with your foot you will wear yourself out. When you get comfortable moving with one foot you are ready to get on the ski lift. Try to find a lift that goes to a beginner hill, there is usually a beginner run on every mountain. Push yourself up to the ski lift line. Wait your turn until the chair for the group in front of you comes. As soon as it goes by hustle to the line, wait for your chair, and when it gets close just sit down. Getting off the lift is a little more challenging. When you get to the top put your board on the ground, and stand up with your back foot in between the two bindings. Use the chairs momentum to push you to the staging area. You will most likely fall a few times, but the ski lift operator’s watch at all times and will stop the lift if you fall. Once you are off and in a safe area sit down with your board horizontal to the mountain and put your back foot in your binding. Make sure you are tight in your bindings and try to standup.

3. Riding and edging
After standing up turn your board to the vertical position and let the mountain. You likely will not get very far before falling. Do not worry this is normal to just about every beginner. Put most of your weight on your towards your back foot. Before getting much farther you need to learn how to edge/turn. There are two ways to edge, heel side and toe side. Heel side edging involves leaning back on your heels and digging your back heel towards the mountain. If you are riding in the regular position this will make you turn towards your left, and if you are riding goofy it will cause a right turn. Toe side edging you turn your front foot, and dig into the mountain with your toe side of the board. This will cause a right turn for riders using a regular stance, left turn if you are riding goofy. If you have never snowboarded before this is going to feel really awkward, but don’t quit! It will get much easier with time. At first you will probably go twenty feet and fall. Be patient and stay focused. Watch other snowboarders around you, and observe there technique. Try to see what they are doing that you are not.

4. Stopping
This is probably the most important part of snowboarding. You can do a toe side or heel side stop. I prefer teaching a heel side stop first, because usually people are more comfortable with heel side edges, but the concepts are just about the same. Basically, all you have to do is a really hard heel side edge. If you cannot stop yourself completely that is okay. Slow yourself down enough just to sit down. Remember it is better slow down and fall, than hit someone that is in front of you.

5. Tips
When learning to snowboard always go with a friend and stay together. This sport does have some risks and if you get hurt you always want someone there to get help. I have heard of stories where people go alone and get stuck in trees by themselves for hours, and you never want to be that person. Plus, it is never as fun to something alone as it is with a friend. This will also give you someone to ride a ski lift with. Never go straight down the mountain without turning when you are just starting out. Try to traverse the mountain going back and forth. This will slow your speed down, and help prevent injury. Always wear the proper clothing. I usually wear a heavy sweat shirt under my ski coat. I like snow pants that are bibs, because they prevent snow from entering them, but they can restrict movement, so do what is comfortable to you. Go to a sporting goods store and pick up a pair of wool socks. Wool is fast drying and much warmer than cotton. Wear a good ski hat, because you lose most of your body heat from your head. Finally, buy a pair of good ski goggles. If it starts snowing on the mountain it can get really different to see, and a good pair of goggles will go a long way.

Greg James Thompson