How To Get Ready for Snowboarding This Winter

Olympic Halfpipe Rider Louie Vito knows a thing or two about getting ready for the season. Well, and dancing. Stan Evans/Red Bull Content Pool 

Years of delayed anticipation from green Decembers (speaking from an East Coast perspective) will eventually train you to wait patiently for the first lift opening, but this also means that the day will sneak up behind you and scare the crap out of you. Don’t let months of good intentions leave you unprepared. Here’s are some tips to make sure you’re first out of the gate on day one.

I know this is a hard sell for the young’uns, especially since you can still eat three square meals at Burger King while deciding between Taco Bell or McDicks the next day and laugh it off like it’s nothing, but trust me on this one. The value of exercise will present itself all too clearly when you get a desk job, sitting on your ass for eight hours a day with no “summer vacation”. Yes, yes, I know you’re all going to be pro shred boarders and your “days off” will be spent surfing, but let’s assume for a second that maybe things don’t pan out like that.

Exercise may not be the most fun thing in the world, but if you train yourself to make it part of your routine, you’ll feel better, and more importantly, your snowboarding will be better. You’ll need to tell yourself this when you’re bored out of your mind, sweating on a treadmill. You won’t ache as much after a day of hard riding, you’ll get injured less and bounce back faster from the worse bails.

If you can’t afford a trainer and/or a gym membership, there’s plenty you can do at home. You’ll want to find a complete workout covering strength, endurance, balance and flexibility…all those things you’ll notice are lacking after a few early season laps in a superpipe with no preparation. There are websites full of exercises for you (like this, or this), saving you the expense of a personal trainer (although they will help you get in shape safely and properly).

All the fitness in the world will do you no good if you’ve got nothing to strap to your feet. There may be no snow on the ground, but the sooner you start thinking about your gear, the better selection you’ll have. If you’re way ahead of the game, you’ve already picked up gear at last season’s close-out sales, and can skip this section.

As much as you’d like to keep riding that nostalgic shred stick from ’98, I assure you it’s time to trade up to some new tech. The camber wars have subsided, and most brands have settled on what works for them. Let’s get you on one of those.

If money is no object, spend some time on your favourite brand sites, learning about their products before you set foot in a shop. Good shop employees will be able to help you with anything, but don’t leave it all in their hands. ‘Know before you go,’ that’s what someone used to say. Maybe G.I. Joe. Head down to your favourite shop, money in one hand, knowledge in the other, and get the gear that’s best for you. This is especially true for parents buying gifts for their kids: only a handful of kids in the world would be happy to find out their parents got sold the world’s fastest race board with plate bindings because they walked in with “sucker” stamped on their bulging wallet.

Unfortunately for most of us, money is an object, often in short supply. The more cost effective options are early season sales on last year’s close-out gear, consumer ski and snowboard shows, or the used route. Of course you can always find someone selling gear here on as well.

Buying used takes some time and careful consideration of what exactly you’re buying, but now with Craigslist, Kijiji, and tons of other online sales sites it’s easier than ever to get deals on gear. The usual rule applies: Caveat Emptor (translation: ‘Let the buyer beware’). If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. I will let you in on a secret: pros and industry folk will regularly sell brand new gear for cheap on Craigslist. If you’re lucky enough to snag one of these deals, don’t be afraid to ask someone where they got the gear from. Most people will be more than forthcoming that they’re in the industry and just want to find someone who’s stoked to give some gear a good home without ripping them off. And you’ll be doing them a favour by freeing up their closet space and helping fund their next trip that their sponsor/employer can’t quite cover.RBCP-NicMullerSerfasPhoto

Nicolas Müller riding what’s probably a perfectly tuned board, after several weeks of pre-season training. Photo: Scott Serfas / Red Bull Content Pool.

Maybe new gear isn’t an option and you’re perfectly content with your setup…nothing wrong with that (although the snowboard industry would like me to tell you otherwise). Hopefully you’ve stored your gear properly and “dusting it off” isn’t literal for you. You’ll want to give your board a fresh wax to start the season off right, which we’ve already got a wonderful illustrated how-to for you. Check all your bolts to make sure they’re tight (the ones holding your bindings together, and the ones keeping you on your board), make sure no mice have made homes in your boots and gloves, and for goodness sake, wash your socks and first layer.

By the time you get all this underway, if Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated with a fresh dump of the white gold, hopefully she’s been kind enough to drop the mercury and the snow guns and fire up to kick start the season. Get ready… Winter is coming…