If you’re one of the few people who doesn’t enjoy the warm weather of spring, there’s still time to visit somewhere cold and enjoy the last bits of winter snow. Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to stay fit, have fun, and socialize with family and friends.
However, these activities do require some skill, improving enjoyment and overall safety. If you want to try your hand at hitting the slopes before the season’s end, here are some beginner tips for learning how to ski and snowboard.
But First, Safety
Before we dive into the ins and outs of shredding powder, you must recognize the hazards and prepare accordingly. First and foremost, always wear protective gear such as a helmet or joint pads. They might not look cool, but they’ll save you a lot of pain in the event of an accident. And yes, regardless of your skill level, these incidents can occur.
Secondly, get dressed appropriately. You need proper cold gear clothing for outdoor winter sports that allows for flexibility while also protecting your body from the elements. This includes accessories like gloves, hats, and boots.
And lastly, practice your skiing and snowboarding in controlled areas before tackling daunting mountain faces. You must be confident in your skills before attempting rugged terrains. Try small hills nearby and work yourself up to more harrowing experiences.
Before you actually go skiing, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the feeling of skis. Having objects attached to your feet is an incredible experience at first and takes some time to get used to. Once you do hit the slopes, avoid using poles. They actually hinder your ability to learn proper turning and braking techniques and don’t serve a purpose on smaller hills.
Skiing is all about leg control—without it, you’re in for a painful, not-so-great day. Get comfortable with deep squats and make sure your joints are loose when traveling downhill. Locked knees make it more challenging to keep a center of gravity, so any little bump or dip in the snow could knock you down.
The most common technique beginners learn is “pizza and french fries.” This fun name refers to ski positioning and not a delicious meal. By making a pizza shape with your skis (front ends touching), you can effectively control speed and brake. This is easier than more complicated methods like shifting to the side. Alternatively, the fry configuration (front ends pointing out) gives you a quick acceleration and consistent speed.
Luckily, many of the same tips for skiing apply to snowboarding, so you can easily transition between the sports with minimal effort. Like skiing, take time to get comfortable with the board—pay attention to how much you must lean and bend to properly turn and brake.
Like any snow sport, you need adequate core strength and must maintain a loose, bent stance. This makes turning far more accessible and more effective. Once you master the feeling of snowboarding, it’s time to hit the slopes. Simply swing the board 90 degrees to brake, positioning it in front of your knees. Bend back slightly to maintain balance. To slow down, simply tweak the board side to side.
With these beginner tips for learning how to ski and snowboard, you can confidently hit the slopes before the snow melts across America. Remember that safety is your most important priority, so start off slow and don’t push for more complicated challenges before you feel confident in your skills.