Learn to snowboard in two days?! It cant be done I hear you cry... Au contraire - our test case specimen rose to the challenge with tremendous vigour.... although his drive to get out of bed on the second day was a touch laboured.

I'll take you through the steps he progessed along over the two days that brought him from complete newbie to reasonably competent linker of turns on both sides!

1. The background.
The candidate had never been on a snowboard before.... he had however had been wakeboarding a number of times and whilst able to get up and cross the wake, he certainly wasn't of the 20 foot air, spin four times and land on head calibre. He was twenty one years old, of average fitness, and was more of a keen eater than avid sportsman.

2. First steps.
The first steps actually began the night before....

We got the kit sorted out, the board set up so that it was comfortable and at angles to help a beginner - front foot set to 30 degrees and the back foot set to 15 degrees.... after sorting out whether he was regular or goofy.

Standing up and sticking his tongue out... impressive.

Our newbie then got strapped on, in the living room, and got a feel for having a 5 foot plank attached to his feet. This inspired idea gave our man a head start for the next day. He felt comfortable with the set up and we rigorously went over the downsides of catching an edge front and back side..... the importance of NOT catching edges became clear to the newbie once he'd done it a couple of times. Finally we went over his first steps on the slopes - sliding on the back edge like a "falling leaf" it really made it sound quite graceful.

The good, the bad and the ugly 3. Day One
The morning was spent guiding the newbie through the falling leaf routine. This involves sliding down the nursery slope on the heel edge of the board by lowering one end of the board down the hill to go in that direction then bringing that end up the hill to stop and then repeating the sequence in the opposite direction by pointing the other end down the hill. (I hope that makes sense!) The important thing was that he learnt to stay in control - so he didn't wipe out any of the other learners on the nursery slopes and also didn't do any serious damage to himself... aside from minor dents to his ego.

Having attained the ability to get down the hill and stop in a controlled manner the next stage was to use the nursery slope rope drag lift. The newbie managed this with surprising ease given that draglifts are often the first major dilemma for a snowboarder. The key is to keep the weight on the front foot and to avoid catching edges!

The afternoon saw our keen learner eager to join us on the real slopes - thankfully there were at The Lecht and the chairlift had a short queue. At the top of the hill the newbie handled the new challenge well, confidently using the lessons learned on the nursery slopes to negotiate the slightly steeper main slopes. Things went a little pearshaped when he got cut up by a couple of adolescents high on their newfound testosterone and also when he hit the steep and narrow section. However, he did stay in control and at the end of the first day he was starting to try to link turns properly. And so ended the lessons for day 1.

4. Day Two
Day 2's greatest challenge was getting the newbie out of bed as he didn't feel up to sliding out of the covers let alone sliding down the piste. After a cooked breakfast and coffee things took on a different light and his enthusiasm was renewed.

He quickly picked up from where day one finished and after deciding that the pomas weren't for him and returning to the chairlift things started to look promising again. We discovered the best way was for the newbie to follow one of us down the hill and to try and copy the way that we turned. This process was successful mostly due to the patience of Miss Morrison who managed to explain the mechanics of turning better than the rest of us and better than that was able to get our learner to do it!

By the afternoon we had a new boarding fanatic on our hands. Shortly after lunch on day 2 he was able to confidently link turns heel and toe side on the moderate slopes and managed the steeps with a mixture of side slipping, falling leaf technique and proper turns when he had the bottle. For the 3 hours in the afternoon the new boarder made a rapid ascent up the steep learning curve associated with snowboarding. By the end of day 2 we had a new snowboarder confident in his abilities to get down the piste and mad keen to get back up the slopes as soon as possible.

Dont lose your balance waving

The key learning points -
Keep most of the weight on the front foot. Natural reactions for self preservation are unfortunately to put all your weight onto the backfoot but all this does is make the board squirt out from under you and you end up in a crumpled heap.

Stay in control right from the start when learning. It can be done. It will give you a better snowboarding experience by building your confidence and will save you painful knocks as well as others around you.

Although no substitute for 1 to 1 professional instruction, the fact that the newbie was taught by 4 competent boarders for the 2 days meant that his mistakes were corrected and his questions were answered quickly. Some form of tuition is money well spent as you'll come away disillusioned if you just hire a board and go for it.

The snowboard had Flow bindings this saved the learner from needless hours on his butt strapping on to his board. Any board with step in bindings should help the learning process in the same way.

Names have been ommitted to protect the innocent.... but there's no getting away from the photos!


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