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Learning the Hard Way + 10 Tips for Snowboarding Newbies

Learning the Hard Way + 10 Tips for Snowboarding Newbies

The older you get the harder it feels to learn something new. Old dog, new tricks and all that. Be it the fear of failing, embarrassing yourself, or just the fear of the unknown, we tend to psych ourselves out when it comes to putting ourselves out there.

As a teen, I remember receiving a snowboard for Christmas. My family wasn’t really big on outdoor winter activities so I went maybe twice with my aunt that first winter. Soon after that I was heading off to college. I sold my snowboard and forgot about the hobby altogether. 

A few years into college, I met Kelsea who is an avid snowboarder and was willing to teach me. I got on Facebook Marketplace, bought a board, used all of her old gear and along with her and her dad, hit the mountain. I refused to go near the bunny hill. There were too many little kids better than me and too many of them to run over. I took the hard way, straight onto the ski lift and right down the mountain. I fell over and over again, I was bruised and frustrated that I wasn’t a natural. All the while, Kels and her dad are zipping along past me or stopping to wait for me. I hated when they would stop and wait. It was embarrassing. Even though it was only because they cared and wanted to help, it made me want to cry. Eventually, I fell enough for one day, went inside, got a beer and waited for them to enjoy a few uninterrupted runs. 

Over the next few winters, I was determined to hit the slopes any chance we could get. I kept trying, and by trying, I mean tumbling down the hill, falling off the ski lift, getting frustrated, embarrassed and all while trying to hype myself up. Kels ever so patiently watched me and explained to me how to do better. She quickly realized when she had given me all the help she could that she just had to let me fall and figure it out myself. 

I finally did. 

This year for the first time I got off the ski lift without falling and taking everyone out with me. I actually made it down the mountain without falling every 30 feet and bruising myself head to toe. This year I also got to watch from the other end as Kels began to teach another newbie, our friend, Brooke. 

It’s a weird feeling watching someone else deal with the struggles I experienced in those early days of learning. I am nowhere near skilled enough to help Brooke learn, but I know how she feels and I am excited to see where she goes. Watching someone else fall down and get back up and be just as determined to figure out that trick to doing it right is such a proud feeling. Knowing how it feels to have been on the other side of figuring it out after struggling for so long makes you so insanely excited for the new person to figure it out too. To hit that accomplishment high of making it down the mountain without falling. Getting off the lift, getting down the hill and not wiping out.

It’s fun to watch people learn new things, especially people you care about. I am not at a level to dole out snowboarding advice, so I went to the source, the one who taught me. I asked her what she thinks is the best way to learn and what tips she has for people like myself and Brooke who are starting to learn how to snowboard. So the following is advice from Kelsea on snowboarding and learning something new: 

1. Make sure you have proper gear that fits (wear a helmet).

2. Go with someone who knows how to snowboard well and will be patient when teaching you.

3. Start on a hill that makes you feel comfortable (most likely a bunny/beginner hill).

4. Learn how to snowboard both ways (goofy/regular).

5. Bend your knees. Your biggest movements are controlled by your knees and hips.

6. Roll with it when you fall. Don’t hesitate and never put your hands back when you fall; this can cause injuries. 

7. Use visualization techniques. Watch other riders and even some videos before going down the hill. 

8. Always look forward. 

9. Be patient with yourself. It takes some time, maybe even two or three visits before you start to understand the movements. Don’t rush yourself.

10. Most importantly, HAVE A BLAST!

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