Snowboarding is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing outdoor sports – not only in the good old US of A – but also across northern Europe and in places where one doesn’t readily associate the climate with winter sports like parts of Asia, Australia and New Zealand. If you yearn for some fast paced action with lots of thrills (and the occasional spills) or are the outdoors type who wants to explore a new interest, get some fresh air and keep fit, why not give some thought to the exciting pastime of snowboarding?
The sport of snowboarding has never seen more interest or been more accessible to everyday people. Retail outlets offering vast arrays of snowboarding gear and accessories have cropped up just about everywhere bringing with them stronger competition and making your entree into this craze more affordable. In this article we’ll take a look at the gear you will need, how to get started, and some tips, tricks and sage advice on what to look out for when snowboarding.
It’s important to start off on the right footing – so to speak! Begin by taking some time to research the subject and doing some due diligence. You can do this the same way I did it by going online and reading up on snowboarding through the world wide web. Inform yourself properly. Take some time to find out precisely what snowboarding entails. While it can be an exciting sport, giving an adrenalin rush and promising loads of fun, it does have its hazards and potential dangers. Snowboarding is physically demanding and you don’t want to tackle it unless you’re fit and healthy. You’ll be manoeuvring your board up, over and across the slopes and taking jumps – often at speed. This requires endurance and stamina. It would be wise to go and have that medical check-up you’ve been putting off just to be on the safe side.
As mentioned, although snowboarding is being made more affordable through greater competition in the snow sports market, it can still be relatively expensive compared to other pastimes when you add up the cost of all of your gear and equipment including clothing and accessories, lessons and resort fees. Therefore, before investing in this sport it would be wise to make sure it’s right for you.
Once you’ve done your homework and are satisfied snowboarding is for you, the next step is to hunt down an appropriate snowboard and bindings to get you started and some suitable clothing and protective gear for wearing on the snow fields. When starting off it’s advisable to forget about investing in an expensive top of the line board. It’s better to begin with something more modest and affordable and designed especially for novices. These can be found and purchased readily and easily in various online stores. You should also be able to find a range of suitable models in your nearest extreme sports shop. If they don’t have what you’re after in stock, most reputable stores will only be too happy to order the right one in for you. As a cheaper alternative, you can always try to source a second-hand snowboard from someone you know, through the classifieds or online from marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist.
Next, you want to make sure that you’re properly insulated from the cold and wet before heading out to the slopes. With everyone fashion conscious these days you want to try to look good as well. The key to insulating yourself from the elements is to ensure you dress in layers. This will usually mean that your garb consists of three (3) layers:
- Base layer;
- Insulating layer; and
- Outer layer (snow jacket, pants and boots)
Go online or head into your local snow sports store to check out some of the fashionable snowboarding wear available. While you’re at it you can select from a huge range of hats, beanies, gloves, mittens, moisture-wicking underwear, socks, sunglasses, goggles, snowboarding tools, bindings, boots and more.
Beginners are encouraged to look around to find lessons being offered in their local area. Lessons can be organised in a group setting, with other like-minded boarders, or a more expensive but personalised one-one arrangement. These can vary considerably in price, availability, quality. Check out the credentials of the instructors and get references if necessary. Recommendations from other snowboarders or advertisements placed in the local classifieds can act as a useful guide to the best options available. Getting hold of a well written book on snowboarding (particularly with beginners in mind) or an instructional DVD may give you a much-needed heads-up to get you off to a good start. If taking lessons, pay careful attention to what the instructor has to say. A good instructor will give guidance not only on the finer points of snowboarding but will also give you a cautionary and robust grounding on the important health and safety aspects of snowboarding as well.
Don’t just do lessons and expect to pick things up straight away. You will want to get out there on the powder and practice what you learn between lessons to reinforce those new found skills and improve your snowboarding ability. If you practice diligently, learn from your mistakes, work at it and give it all you’ve got, you will ultimately notice an improvement in your technique and style and find the sport that much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Make no mistake. Snowboarding is a potentially dangerous activity and, like all sports, people can and do get hurt. So before you contemplate venturing out onto those slopes with your snowboard, take some instruction in safety and make sure you are both mentally and physically equipped to avoid injury to yourself and others where at all possible. Snowboarding is responsible for many accidents each year. After all, snowboarding is classed as an extreme sport for a reason. To reduce the likelihood of injury and head trauma it is strongly recommended that you invest in a good fitting quality helmet. This can make all the difference between an accident you can walk away from and one which could render you incapacitated or even worse!
Even with observing the proper precautions, if you don’t believe you are physically and mentally fit enough for the rigors of snowboarding then maybe it is not the best sporting option for you. However, with the right preparation and research, awareness of one’s limitations, and a bit of common sense at the fore, snowboarding can be undertaken and enjoyed in relative safety.
Despite the words of caution, snowboarding can be loads of fun if you enjoy the thrills, rushes, challenges and everything else that the slopes can throw at you. If you’re keen to try anything once then snowboarding has a lot to offer. If you’ve got a “bucket list” and want to add to it then this sport is definitely one that should go right at the top.
Richard Gibbons is a snowboarding enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. To find out more about snowboarding and where to source some great deals on snowboarding gear, equipment and accessories go to [http://www.snowboardinggearguide.com]
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