Alan Orgill, who has been in the snowboarding industry for over 25 years, shares his thoughts on why anyone can learn to snowboard
Snowboarding has been around for just over thirty years and has always been considered the ‘bad boy’ relative to its respectable sibling skiing. Having such an image succeeded in putting the sport out of the psyche of the average person, and instilling the idea that it is not for them. Yes, the average age of a Snowboarder is lower than the average age of a skier and so it is between windsurfing and dinghy sailing and mountain biking and road riding, so what! Show me the rules?
The only limits to participating in any sport are physical ability and more importantly attitude. Nowhere have I ever seen it written down that once you reach a certain age you are not ‘allowed’ to participate in a particular sport, so what are you waiting for?
I was born in 1954 (you work it out) and have always been active in many sports, primarily windsurfing, dinghy sailing, mountain biking, skiing and predominantly Snowboarding. I will be the first to admit that you do need a good level of fitness to participate in Snowboarding at the level that I have attained. But as long as you have two arms, legs and eyes in general working order there is NO reason why you should not pop down to your nearest dry slope or fridge (indoor snow slope) for your first taster session.
I am always shocked when I am talking about Snowboarding (or skiing for that matter) and get the response from someone that they are too old for that sort of thing. Only to ask their age and get the reply thirty-two, or whatever – WHAT! You have given up on life already?
I like a beer but again am shocked when I pop to the local and see friends that I was at school with sitting there looking like my grandparents, and what do they do apart from work and watch football on the TV – NOTHING! I am the same age (or older) and have just come back from the French Alps having taken a group on a Snowboard trip, while my peers arteries atrophy watching Manchester United.
Snowboarding does use muscles that you do not regularly use in everyday life and therefore after your first lesson you will have aches in places that you did not know existed. However, you will also have two more things, the biggest grin from ear to ear and the satisfaction that you have taken the first step. So many times after I have convinced people to have their first lesson do I get the response “I wished that I had done this years ago”.
So how do you start Snowboarding? Simple get online (you must already be online to read this) and search for your nearest slope and book your first lesson or ‘taster session’, then fill with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. There are literally dozens of slopes throughout the UK and therefore no matter where you live you will have access.
Not only will you have added another item to your ‘life list’ of achievements, you will have joined a community of like-minded people. Before you know it your new friends will be booking a trip to the mountains and asking you if you want to join them, a win-win situation in my book.
No, you do not need to shell out hundreds of pound for kit because all slopes have rental kit and so do all mountain resorts, I advise that you only buy once you are committed. In Snowboarding THE most important piece of kit are boots, so if you are eager to spend this should be your first port of call. Don’t buy a pair from E-Bay, go to an authorised retailer who should go through a boot fitting procedure, which, be warned, can take up to and over two hours if done correctly. This will include heat molding of the boots, which will then be tailored to your foot shape. During this time you can be discussing the designs and suitability of boards and bindings.
You do not have to buy, as I have already stated, and I know many people who go to the mountains once a year and do not own any kit, but if you become a regular at your local slope it would be an idea to consider buying.
On a scale of one to ten for physical effort, skiing is one but Snowboarding is eleven. You will never see a good overweight Snowboarder, however one of the world’s best giant slalom skiers was Alberto Tomba and in his Lycra suit you could see where all of the pies had gone. So once you get past your first tentative slides on a Snowboard the health benefits are self-evident.
I always liked the comedy The Goodies and do you remember Hells Grannies? Well I want an army of over fifty Snowboarders living life to the full and showing anyone who cares to look that we are all a long way yet from the Zimmer frames.
Remember if you think that you can achieve or you think that you will fail – you are right.
Alan is the owner of snowboard and extreme sports shop Lifestyle Boardzone