Stay Safe On The Slopes This Winter: Snowboard Safety Tips for Beginners
**Lindsay’s Note: Snowboard season is upon us and now is a good time to go over some safety tips. Check out this guest post from Kendra Penta on snowboard safety tips for beginners.
Snowboarding is a great sport. It’s relatively easy to learn the basics, but it’s something that you can never master – you’re always learning something new and the conditions are always different. That’s the beauty of it. There is the exhilarating rush, the spectacular scenery and the knowledge that you never had so much fun staying fit. However, while snowboarding can be perfectly safe, you need to take the right precautions to avoid ending up in serious trouble.
Snowboarding safety starts before you ever hit the slopes – you need to make sure that you have the right gear and the correct way to use it. This starts with the snowboard itself. When you are an experienced snowboarder, you may decide to buy a specialty board, but when you’re just starting out an all-mountain snowboard is the best choice – these are easier to balance on and turn than specialty boards. Also keep in mind that long boards are more difficult to control, so buy a board that is right for your experience and size. The ideal size is somewhere between your chin and your nose when the board is standing up. If you are just starting out, going more towards your chin is a safe bet.
Boots and bindings are also very important. Don’t be tempted to try hiking boots – you want real snowboard boots that fit correctly and give you the control you need. If you are a beginner, get soft boots, since these are easier to control. Also make sure that you lace up your boots tightly so that they support your feet and ankles properly. You can also get a BOA system where you tighten your boots by turning a crank. These are good, too. When it comes to bindings, make certain that you get the right type for your boots, and fasten them securely. It’s also a good idea to have the angle on your bindings professionally adjusted so that your feet are correctly positioned. Ask the person who you bought your board from to set it up properly for you.
One of the most important things you can do when you are snowboarding is to wear a helmet. As with many other sports, you can seriously injure yourself – which can be fatal – if you fall and hit your head while it is unprotected. Keep your helmet on at all times and make sure that you fasten the chinstrap securely. Don’t buy a cycle or football helmet – these are not properly ventilated for snowboarding, and will interfere with your goggles.
Speaking of goggles, these are also an absolute necessity – they are the best way to protect your eyes on the slopes. Make sure that you get a pair that are also sunglasses, since the sun’s rays are much stronger at altitude than they are at sea level. Don’t just buy regular sunglasses – these are definitely not the best way to protect your eyes on the slopes, since they won’t stop branches and other hazards poking into your eyes. The sun rays are very strong in the mountains and it’s important to keep your eyes protected.
Remember that it’s cold on the slopes – the last thing you want to do is to ruin your day and end up with hypothermia or frostbite. Dress in layers to keep warm, rather than just relying on jackets and pants. Start by wearing thermal underwear – but avoid cotton, since this will make you cold and miserable if it gets wet. Also wear thermal socks – but make sure that they are not too thick, as this will make your boots tight and your feet cold. Intermediate layers are also a good idea – for example, buy wool or synthetic fleeces that fit comfortably under your jacket without making it too tight. When it comes to jackets and snowboard pants, these need to be waterproof and must allow you to move freely. Also, get a jacket with plenty of pockets so that you can store things easily. Finally, get a good warm pair of ski gloves – otherwise you risk your fingers being frostbitten.
When you head out on the slopes, remember to take essential supplies. Take sunscreen even if it is cloudy, since you can still easily end up with sunburn. Lip balm is also a good idea to prevent chapping – it can be very windy and dry on the mountain. Whatever you do, don’t forget to take enough food and water – snowboarding is very strenuous, so it’s all too easy to get dehydrated or fatigued.
If this is your first time snowboarding, we highly recommend that you take lessons – snowboarding may look easy, but unless you learn the right techniques you are going to end up getting hurt. Even when you become more experienced, it’s important to know your limits and only go on trails where you feel confident. Never go into areas that are closed – they are shut for a reason, and you don’t want to be the person who finds out why. Also make sure that you go snowboarding with a friend – if you do sustain an injury, you want someone who can go and get help.
What about you? Do you wear a snowboard helmet while snowboarding? Have any other safety tips? Post in the comments and let us know.