Activity Workshop
 

Snowboarding

What's it all about?

So what's the big appeal of snowboarding then? Is it just a fashion thing, or is it really better than skiing? Well, neither of those things are important. It's just such a fantastic feeling. Excuse me while I get prosaic for a while. To be in control of your snowboard, to be flying downhill and feeling the balance of it all, to feel your edges and the reaction of the soft snow, with the wind in your face, not quite sliding and not quite flying, working with the rhythm of your weight as it drives the board into the turns, like surfing on a cushion of spray. It feels fantastic!

You can go off into the trees (preferably not into the trees!), and you can wallow and whoosh in the soft, deep snow. If you're lucky, and there's been a recent snowfall, you can find untouched waves to ride, as you weave silently between the snowy branches.

And then you get on the hard-pack, and it's a completely different feeling. It's a completely different sound, for a start, but the board reacts instantly rather than turning through and over the soft. And as your weight is over the front of the board rather than the back, you can drive out of the turns and lean out far more, exerting your effort in the pursuit of fluid speed.

Fancy a change? Head for the terrain park. If the jumps and lips off to the sides of the main pistes don't satisfy your air lust, the bumps, jumps, banked 'boarder-cross' courses and launch pads available at many resorts are sure to scare you silly. Perfect for photo opportunities, and for pub stories back home, they can be taken cautiously at first (just riding slowly over them rather than jumping - as long as you have enough speed to get over them!), and after a few attempts it's surprising how less daunting they seem. And once you can land a straight jump, then it's time to experiment with a few crowd-pleasers, such as board grabs, or spins. Leave the somersaults until later!

How to get going

Now, I'm not going to even try to provide a "How To Learn To Snowboard" tutorial - get some practical lessons off a professional. You just can't learn about it by reading. If you want a brief set of pointers, then you might like to try the pages at the Cern ski club (archived link) instead.

But you will need equipment, either rented or bought, so for an overview of what you'll need, have a look at the equipment guide.

Resort guides

For those who live in the Alps, or are planning a Winter trip there, the ActivityWorkshop's guides to ski resorts could come in useful. These now include 3d plots for most resorts, and charts indicating which direction the slopes face - this can be handy for finding a shady North-facing resort when the snow's not falling or for chasing the south-west-facing evening sun. There are currently three countries covered:

Switzerland has a wealth of resorts large and small, and the guide to Swiss ski resorts attempts to cover a variety of different ones. Most are within day-trip range of Zürich, with others more suitable for a weekend adventure.

Germany

There's also a small selection of German ski resorts in the Black Forest and the Bavarian Alps.

France

...and a (very) small selection of French ski resorts in the Alps.

Austria

...and a (very) small selection of Austrian ski resorts in the Alps.

Italy

Finally, there's a small selection of Italian ski resorts covered, including the Dolomites.

Google Earth guide

Kmz icon

This small file (8kb), when opened in Google Earth, shows all these resorts in lovely 3d. So you can fly over the alps and check out the resorts and where they are. You can even play a tour and fly from one resort to the next! Each resort has a pushpin with a little info bubble, and these contain links back to the resort guide here at Activity Workshop.

If you haven't got Google Earth installed, you can see the same resort links in Google Maps instead.

Pics

Another thing I might be able to do is 'whet your appetite' with a few pictures of our recent and not-so-recent holidays, also known as vanity corner.

Boards vs skis

One last thing - lighten up. Everyone's on the mountain for the same reason, so just enjoy it. If you don't like skiing, or you don't like snowboarding, that's no problem (although you should definitely try both!). But if you don't like skiers, or you don't like snowboarders, you should take a look at the print-out-and-keep numpty's guide to what it's really about. Enjoy yourself and let others enjoy themselves.

Or, if all that sounds like too much fun, you can go up to the main page.