Though skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports in the country, there are plenty of people who are nervous to hit the slopes for the first time. If you've never given it a try before, you may not know where to find a ski hill. Rest assured that if your area gets snow – whether you live in the Rocky Mountains or in the Great Plains – there's a good chance there is a place to ski nearby. Here are a few tips to make sure your first skiing or snowboarding trip is a success:
Do your research
Unless you are heading out with a much more experience friend who is also extremely patient, you'll benefit from taking a lesson before tackling the slopes on your own. While deciding where you'll go for your first skiing trip, hop online and do a bit of research. Make sure you find a hill that offers lessons – most do – and check out reviews to find a certified instructor. You'll also need to keep an eye on the weather before heading out. For your first time skiing or snowboarding, you'll want to look for fresh snow. Powder – snow that is still fluffy and not yet icy from days of being packed down by others – will give you a little padding when you inevitably take a spill. It's also easier to travel through and gives you more control over your speed.
Don't strike it out alone
While you may have a vision in your head of flying down a black diamond hill with no company but the wind whistling in your ears, understand that your first runs are probably going to involve a lot more awkward falling and retrieving dropped poles than cruising. For that reason, bring along an equally inexperienced friend or two. You'll have a great time learning together and it gives you someone to laugh with over your spills.
Picking out your first snowboarding attire can be a bit tricky. Obviously, you need to protect yourself from the wind and snow. However, both skiing and snowboarding are tough workouts that can warm you up fairly quickly. A waterproof or water-resistant outer layer is a must. Under that, your best bet is to dress in layers that are easy to move in. Leave your jeans or any heavy cotton layers at home – if they get wet, they'll become extremely heavy and will cause your body temperature to drop. Instead, dress in light layers that you can remove if you start getting overheated. Fabric that wicks moisture away from your body is a plus. You'll also want to invest in a good pair of waterproof gloves or mittens. Your hands will come in contact with the snow more than almost anything else on your body, and having cold, wet hands is not a fun way to spend your day.
Protect your belongings
Neither skiing nor snowboarding are activities that lend themselves to carrying purses, bags or bulky items. You'll have to either rent a locker or leave your belongings in your car while you are out hitting the slopes. Because nothing can ruin a fun day out on the hills faster than returning to find that your car has been broken into and your valuables missing, make sure you take the proper steps to secure all of your belongings. Don't leave any valuables or electronics out on the seats or dashboard where passers by can see them. Consider picking up a portable safe – it's the perfect way to protect your small electronics, cash or firearms while you're away from the car. If you've used the car roof racks to transport your belongings to the resort, make sure all roof cargo is property secured.
Rent before buying
If you've never been skiing or snowboarding, don't let your enthusiasm get away from you. Buying a set of ski boots, skis and ski poles or a full snowboarding setup can cost you a pretty penny. You may get onto the hill and realized skiing isn't for you after all, or wish you had tried snowboarding instead. Plus, both skis and snowboards come in a huge variety of lengths, widths, thickness and a variety of other factors. Test out a couple of different boards or skis that the resort has for rent before buying so you know you're getting the right one for you. Check out helmet rental options as well.
Don't give up
Both skiing and snowboarding are tricky skills to pick up. No one straps on a board and drops into a halfpipe on their first day, so don't get discouraged. Take breaks when you need to so you don't get frustrated, and try a different instructor if you t feel like you haven't clicked with yours. Practice makes perfect, and with a little persistence, you'll soon find yourself with a fun and active new hobby.