That first snowboarding holiday is a thrilling and life changing experience. But the excitement is also mixed with anxiety and confusion on what to expect and what to take! After all, the snowy mountains seem very alien to most of us growing up in Britain.
This is my top tips for that first snowboarding holiday:
1. Get in a few lessons before you go
Get in a few lessons before you go so you can get one step ahead and have more fun on the mountains.
We may not have easy access to the mountains in Britain, but there are plenty of options available such as the indoor snow centres such as the Hemel Hempstead Snow Centre, dry ski slopes, and indoor revolving slopes such as Chelski.
Professional snowboarders such as Jamie Nicholls cut their teeth on dry ski slopes, but many are now in disrepair and can be quite hard (and painful) to learn on as the surface is very unforgiving.
The same can be said for the revolving slopes. These are great for skiers but not the best for snowboarders to have their first lessons on.
an indoor ski centre like the Hemel Hempstead snow Centre is ideal as there is nothing like the feeling of learning on actual snow.
2. Health and Fitness
You do not need to be an Olympic athlete for snowboarding, but like with any sport, you will use muscles that you are not used to.
Many a first snowboarding trip has been ruined on the first day by simply pulling a muscle or feeling exhausted.
A recreational snowboarder can burn up to 315 calories an hour. so it is a good idea to work on your general fitness. Also working on your core and legs in vital.
You do not need to join a gym and daily exercises and stretches would really help. If you are able to join a class, Pilates is a great way to improve your core and balance.
3. Hire equipment in resort
It is not worth buying a new snowboard, boots and bindings for your first snowboarding holiday. There are many different sizes, shapes and profiles of snowboards and snowboarders make their choice depending on how they like to ride, where they ride the most, and their riding style.
A beginner cannot possibly know their riding style and preferences of profile. This comes with experience.
4. Pack high factor Suntan Cream (Sunscreen)
This is always a rookies mistake! Even in the depths of winter when it is cold and cloudy, always wear a high factor sunscreen.
You may not be on a beech in Barbados, but the strength of the sun in the mountains can be incredibly strong as the sun is reflected off the snow.
A goggle tan is cool, being fried to a crisp is not!
Gone are the old days when we just layered up under a bulky jacket with baggy T-Shirts – it is now very scientific!
There is nothing worse than finishing the day early because you are cold or wet, so make sure you get a decent jacket and trousers (pants).
If you are heading out mid-season then make sure that the jacket is insulated. If you are enjoying spring snowboarding then a shell jacket will suffice. You could even chose a combo of a shell jacket with an inner insulated jacket for really cold days.
You can get really hot out on the slopes, so make sure the jacket is breathable and has a decent vent system. This is usually zips under the arm to open it up.
Make sure you have a decent base layer top and trousers. These come in many different materials such as Merino wool. Again, make sure it is breathable.
A Midlayer top is also a good idea. You may not need it but it is an option if you do.
Get decent gloves! There is nothing worse than cold hands.
Lastly, don’t forget to get specially designed snowboarding socks. Avoid those horrible tube socks like the plague.
There has been many discussions over a pint in an Apres bar on what or how much protection snowboarders should have. At the end of the day it is a matter of choice.
You can hire a helmet but I would recommend getting your own as you have no idea how many knocks a hired one has had. You will also want it to be as snug and comfortable as possible.
When learning to snowboard you spend a lot of time either sitting or falling on your arse. Snowboard protection shorts will make those falls a little more bearable and prevent bruises. They are also a handy barrier against the cold snow when sitting.
A lot of snowboard injuries are to the wrist so wrist guards are good for beginners. When you advance to the next level you may also want a back protector; especially for park laps.
7. Winter Sports Insurance
Hopefully you will never need to use it, but as in all sports there is a risk involved with snowboarding. You may not be jumping off cliff drops on your first snowboarding holiday, but you still need a decent winter sports insurance.
Don’t be frugal with insurance and go for the cheapest option. Often you will find that with the cheap insurances there are many scenarios when you are not insured.
Spend a bit more and go for a specialist snow sports insurer like MPI Brokers.
Snowboarding is an exhilarating, addictive sport and the mountain scenery is simply breath-taking. The main thing to remember is to simply have fun!
Don’t worry about falling over. This is something skiers seem to care about deeply, but when learning how to snowboard, if you are not falling then you are not progressing.
Your first snowboarding holiday is an experience that you will never forget and the start of a lifetime addiction and journey.
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)