For those new to winter sports, the frosted mountains and icy slopes can seem as intimidating as they are exhilarating. Nevertheless, with the right guidance and preparation, even newcomers can experience the thrill of speeding down a hill on skis or snowboard.
Choose Your Sport
The first decision to make is which winter sport you want to try. The most popular options are downhill skiing and snowboarding. Skiing involves placing your feet in separate skis and using poles to help navigate the slopes. Snowboarding requires both feet to be attached to a single wide board as you propel yourself with body movements. Those new to balance and coordination may find skiing easier to pick up initially. However, deciding between the two often comes down to personal preference.
Get Properly Equipped
Before heading out to the slopes, every beginner needs the appropriate gear and equipment. This includes warm, waterproof outer layers as well as base layers that wick away sweat. Gloves or mittens, goggles, and a helmet are also essential for safety. And don’t forget the footwear designed specifically for your chosen activity. Skiers need rigid ski boots that click into the skis, while snowboarders require flexible snowboarding boots with deep treaded soles for grip. The people at Canyon Sports say that if buying all this equipment before you’ve even tried winter sports seems unreasonable, consider ski or snowboard rental initially to test it out.
Know the Basics
It’s important to learn the basics of your sport before going down an actual hill or trail. Take a lesson from a qualified instructor at the ski resort or snowboard park. They will teach newcomers how to properly control speed and direction on the equipment. For skiing, this includes learning turns by shifting weight between the edges of the skis. Snowboarders work on gentle heel and toe side turns to control their descent. Lessons also cover proper falling techniques to avoid injury. Be sure to master the basics in a safe practice area before advancing.
When first starting out, choose green circle or blue square slopes that denote easier terrain. Trying to go down steep black diamond runs or icy mogul fields right off the bat is a recipe for disaster. Start by getting comfortable cruising down gentle inclines to become acclimated to the equipment and sensation of descending on snow. Don’t feel self-conscious about going slow initially or taking spills. Advanced maneuvers can wait. Focus on building confidence handling the equipment safely.
Respect the Conditions
While an experienced winter athlete may love fresh powder and freezing temperatures, such conditions pose heightened risks for novices. Pay attention to weather reports and ski patrol warnings about snow conditions, high winds, and visibility issues like fog or flat light. Icy patches can also form at midday if slopes refreeze after melting and thawing. Heed recommendations to avoid potentially dangerous terrain and conditions for your skill level.
Stay Hydrated and Refueled
The high altitude and cold winter air tend to zap energy and moisture faster than expected when active outdoors. Be sure to take regular breaks to drink water and eat high protein snacks to refuel tired muscles. Ward off fatigue by replenishing fluids and calories. Otherwise you risk depleted coordination or lapses in concentration that could cause falls. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa or broth for quick rehydration too.
Don’t let apprehension or inexperience dissuade you from the rush of winter action sports. Being prepared means winter mountaineering no longer needs to seem so daunting. Before you know it, you’ll be carving up the slopes and trails with ease. So bundle up and go embrace those thrills and chills.