As I was getting dressed yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about my approach to learning snowboarding. It’s worked well for me, so I am going to share:
Part 1: Getting Dressed
If you already ski, you know that that the right clothes and gear can make all the difference between comfort and distress. My snowboarding attire is designed for comfort and protection rather than fashion (though I like to think I look pretty cute)
- I start with the inner layer: REI silks – very thin, very soft long sleeve top and bottoms. They are a bit on the expensive side, but I bought mine in 1996 and I am still using them (minus the years they were too small for me)
- Next I put on my impact padding: a pair of RED Impact shorts that have a padded tail bone protector and some mostly useless side impact pads and then a pair of knee pads that I also use to Rollerblade.
- Next, a cotton turtleneck
- If it’s really cold or super windy, I will add in a fleece, zip up shirt and a pair of fleece pants, but then I’m in danger of overheating once I get skiing, so I trade a little early chill for comfort later
- I wear Softwool ski socks and sometimes liners if my rented snowboard boots are too loose
- I wear a helmet liner – a very thin, fleece cap – this can be taken off and stuffed in my pocked if I get too warm and come out again if I get cold
- Fleece neckwarmer – ditto, though I rarely take this one off
- Then my bib style ski pants – keeps the snow from getting to my skin and they are also a little extra padding
- Ski jacket – although ideally I would be wearing a one piece which keeps the snow from inside my clothes, but I’m still about 5 pounds away from fitting into the fabulous ski suit I found at the Goodwill – so next year!
- Really good gloves are essential with snowboarding – you’re using your hands a lot to get up and brace yourself when you fall (and you will fall). I am still looking for some that have built in wrist protection, but they are super expensive, so will be waiting until end of season to snag a pair.
- Depending on the weather, I’ll either wear my prescription polarized sunglasses or a pair if goggles with a fan built in to keep my glasses from fogging up in snow/really low light conditions (Though honestly, if it isn’t clear, I really don’t want to ski or board!)
- Last but certainly not least – my helmet. I think it’s saved my life about once a day since I started snowboarding. Even at the slow speeds I’m going, a bad fall can really knock you silly and I’m attached to all those bits of knowledge and cool memories stored in there. Plus, a drool bib is not my idea of the perfect fashion accessory, so be smart, wear a helmet
Part 2 – Equipment:
I have my own skis, poles and boots, but this year I rented snowboarding equipment because I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it. Now that I know I love it, I may see if I can get a good deal on boots, board and bindings at the end of the season. I’ve loved my Burton board – with cool red and pink graphics and flowers – very girly and easy to spot in a snow bank.
The boots have to be the best part and probably why I will never go back to skiing. My snowboarding boots – a pair of Burton 550’s – are so comfortable that I wear them to walk the dogs. I wear them out to buy groceries. Seriously. If you’ve ever skiied, you know how tight, uncomfortable and unwieldy ski boots can be. Snowboots, combined with good bindings, give you the support and control you need to board and double as a handy pair of apres ski boots.
I don’t know anything about boards, boots and bindings yet – I just took the ones they gave me at the rental shop. But when I go to buy a pair, I’m going to look for bindings and boots that stay tight for more than one run. I’ve had to stop and tighten my bindings and boots in the middle of a run, because they got too loose to give me control for my turns.
As for boards, I’m going to go with the same length and size and look for some really cool graphics – as long as there is a good sale price on it!
Part 3 Learning to Ride
TAKE A LESSON!
I can’t stress this enough. So what if your buddy is a good snowboarder and thinks you should skip the super expensive, time consuming all day lesson? He’s not the one that’s going to have to wear the itchy cast when you break an arm, a leg or most likely, your wrist.
TAKE A LESSON!
I did. Then I practiced on my own or with my husband and son for a week, then took another one. One thing that no one thinks to tell you is that when you are first starting out, unless you are in really super, amazing, top condition, you can’t ride all day. I was able to ride for three hours the first day, then could barely walk the second day. I had such muscle fatigue that I could only practice for two hours, then had to call it quits. Over time I’ve built up a bit more stamina, but frankly, after three hours, I’m done. The boys can go all day, but I figure why not go back to the condo, take a hot bath and then have some hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps while I read a book in front of the fire? I mean, what am I paying for the condo for anyway?
Part 4: Planning your Trip
When I mention that we have a ski condo for 30 days and that my husband and son are spending the month there, the first question I get is “Did you win the lottery?” The answer, sadly, is no, I did not win the lottery, I’m not independently wealthy and I’m not spending the mortgage money on a ski trip. The answer is that I planned, very carefully and very far in advance.
In August, while most people are planning their last trip to the beach, I was buying season passes. For $350 per adult and $150 per child, you can ski or use the mountain facilities for 12 months. Since we were coming out to visit the in-laws in January, as well as the month, we would get about 35 days to ski and board. That works out to about $10 per day per adult and $5 per day per child. Try spending that at Disney World.
For the condo, I have to brag – I’m a hell of a negotiator! I look for leasing companies that have multiple units available during my time frame and then make them an offer. For a one week stay, this isn’t too successful unless it’s after or before a big holiday, when typically there are more vacancies. On the other hand, for a 30 day stay that starts after Presidents Day weekend (a big ski weekend) and ends right before spring break (also big skiing time) then it’s kind of amazing what you can get.
I found a two bedroom condo on the free ski bus route, five minutes from the lifts. It’s up on the mountain, has great views and a gas fireplace. There’s plenty of room for us, our homeschool stuff and the dogs. We’ve been very comfortable and the total price, because stayed for 30 days and don’t have to pay lodging tax, was less than $70 a day.
We don’t spend any money on dining out or drinks – we found a good grocery store and bought the same foods we’d be buying at home and make healthy meals. We bought hot chocolate and schnapps for me and bourbon for my husband and make our drinks. For entertainment, we ski and snowboard, then hang out at our condo and watch movies, television or read and listen to music. It’s been very relaxing and awesome to spend so much time together. Oh and there’s the free hot tub next door.
My husband has his own equipment for skiing, but my son and I needed snowboarding equipment. Weekly rentals were pretty high, so I found a place the locals use to rent for the season. For the price of one week of rental, we rented boots, boards and bindings for both of us for the entire season.
We drove out here, which means we didn’t have to pay for airfare (except for me coming back and forth once) or rent a car and we brought our dogs so we didn’t have to pay for kennel fees. Now we try to take the free ski bus, so we cut down on gas and wear and tear on the car.
So no, a month of skiing isn’t cheap, but the total price is much less than we spent for a week at Disney World two years ago. And so worth it – we’re all in better shape, we’re relaxed and recharged for getting back to work and school. And we got to spend some amazing time together, making priceless memories.