Getting ready for your first snowboarding holiday is exciting, especially if you focus on a few important bits first. It’s not about having all the gear and no idea, or choosing your resort because it’s got the cheapest beer. The saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is never more true.
Pick up the basics before you go
Book some pre-holiday lessons at an indoor snow centre, as you’re going to get more from your holiday by arriving in resort knowing some of the basics. Learn how to carry your snowboard, how to put it on and how to get going. Then once you’re there, you can properly explore the mountain during your lessons.
Choose the right resort
It’s best not to pick where you’re going based on the number of bars. When choosing a beginner-friendly resort, there’s a few other factors to consider.
Different types of lift get you up the mountain in each resort. Chairlifts are most common, taking a group of people on a bench-like chair. Drag lifts consist of a button or T-bar-shaped end that goes between your legs and pulls you up the mountain while you’re attached to your board. As they’re designed for skiers facing forward and not snowboarders facing sideways, they aren’t very comfortable or beginner-friendly. So the more chairlifts and gondolas you can use, the better.
Good snowboard tuition in resort is also key. Even if you pick up the basics in the UK, make sure you book a few hours of instruction each day so you’re progressing on holiday too. You can choose either private or group lessons and you’ll still have time to spend with family and friends, practicing what you’ve picked up.
Look out for resorts with dedicated beginner or beginner-friendly zones like Les Arcs, Les Deux Alpes and Avoriaz. Sometimes called ‘ski tranquille’, ‘cool zones’ or ‘slow zones’, these restrict anyone from going too fast and are reassuring for those who are learning. You also don’t want to end up on just a few beginner runs for the whole holiday, so look for a good amount of greens and blues for variety. Check out the resorts we recommend for beginner snowboarders.
Get the right gear
Where you can, borrow the essentials from friends and family. A warm jacket, waterproof snowboarding trousers called salopettes and a helmet are the pricier items you should consider borrowing for a once-a-year trip. If you do have to buy though, look in the high street discount stores and go online for deals and offers.
Generally, it’s best to follow the basic principle of layers. It’s better to have more layers that you don’t end up using, than being cold with not enough. As you may be falling over in the early stages, padded shorts and wrist protectors are something to think about, as it’s a natural reaction to put your hands out first when you fall.
It’s best to hire your equipment, and this can usually include your helmet too. Hire shops tend to update their snowboards every couple of seasons, so as you progress, you can sample the new technology and find what type of board suits you. That way, you can try before you buy if you’re looking to get your own board in the future.
Prep with some exercises
A winter snowboarding trip is unlike any other type of holiday. It’s essentially based around sport, so the fitter you are, the faster you’ll learn and the more you’ll enjoy yourself. From the outside looking in, it may seem like people simply stand on the board and glide down the mountain. In reality, you’ll use almost every muscle group in your body to turn, stop and balance.
In the lead up to your holiday, try to build up a good level of strength and stamina. Regular exercise to work on your core strength and cardiovascular fitness is the key – abdominal muscle and lower back strength will improve your balance and help prevent injuries. You’ll find a range of key exercises in the Crystal Slopercise programme – a series of workout videos designed to get you ready for the mountain. These are available on the Crystal Ski Holidays YouTube channel and they can easily be completed at home.
If you’re dreaming of getting to the slopes this winter, start planning your adventure at www.crystalski.co.uk