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Old 01-16-2013, 09:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Introduction and questions about first time snowboarding....

Hey everybody, my name's David. I'm 48, live in central Alabama, and have been skiing on and off since '91. Most years (but not all) I manage to sneak in 3-5 days of skiing somewhere (usually Utah or Colorado), and I'm comfortable on just about any blue and some black runs.

This year my wife and two boys (13 and 9) and I have a nice week-long family trip scheduled for Brian Head Utah the last week of March. My oldest son went skiing one time when he was 7 (with a group lesson plus another day of skiing) and he did well. But this time he wants to do the "cool" thing and snowboard, and his little brother who has never been on snow, will do whatever big brother does. We plan to put them in group snowboarding lessons on day one, and likely a private lesson on day 2 or 3 after they have some of the basics down. I have no doubt that they will have a blast learning to snowboard and will probably be doing great by the end of the week.

What I'm worried about is yours truly. Brian Head is a small resort and we'll be staying in ski-in ski-out accommodations on the mostly-green peak (Navajo). I'm assuming the boys will probably need to stay on green most of the week, and my wife is much more timid than me and would be happier mostly on greens anyway. So if I want to be with my wife and boys most of the time (which I do) I'm pretty sure I would get bored to tears skiing down the same few green runs all week.

So..... I'm strongly considering leaving my skis at home and taking snowboard lessons. I've always wanted to try snowboarding, but was never willing to give up my precious few days a year of glorious skiing, for a few days of misery busting my butt and looking like a dork on a snowboard. But I figure is there is ever a time, this is it!

I have watched all the videos recommended on this forum and have purchased one of the recommended books (The Snowboard Book: A Guide for All Boarders). I really am excited about giving it a shot! And I do normally pick things up relatively easily. But then I inevitably read a thread like this one or this one.

The typical response to threads like the ones above seems to be "just hang in there and eventually it'll click". I'm definitely a stick-to-it kind of guy that doesn't give up easily. So I'm confident that given enough time on snow I could learn how to snowboard reasonably well, and would probably LOVE it. I have a nice helmet and I'm willing to purchase a butt pad and wrist guards too.

And being a snowboarding forum, I don't really expect anyone here to discourage me from taking up the sport. But given my age and infrequent snow-trips, would anyone say that I might just be wasting my time since I won't have many practice days each year to advance my skills? Will I just flail most of the week on this trip while dealing with extreme pain and frustration, only to have to relive it all again in years to come? In other words, am I just setting myself up for short periods of annual misery if I try to take up snowboarding at this time in my life? Or should I just suck it up and go for it?

David
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by David Giles View Post
Hey everybody, my name's David. I'm 48, live in central Alabama, and have been skiing on and off since '91. Most years (but not all) I manage to sneak in 3-5 days of skiing somewhere (usually Utah or Colorado), and I'm comfortable on just about any blue and some black runs.
Are you saying you only get 3-5 days PER SEASON?
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Are you saying you only get 3-5 days PER SEASON?
Yep, unfortunately that's what I'm saying. Kinda sad huh? But I live in central Alabama and have a family and a business that keeps me very busy. So I actually feel pretty darn lucky that I get to go skiing 3-5 days a year (most years). If my boys REALLY take to snowboarding, I might be able to talk the wife into a couple of long weekend roadtrips a year up to the North Carolina area for some icy/slushy fun. But one decent trip out west or MAYBE two in rare years, is probably about all I'll get until graduation/empty nest/retirement.

So you can see why I'm hesitant to try to tackle snowboarding when I know I can jump on skis every year and have fun with minimal pain and frustration. Then again, it would be cool to take up snowboarding at the same time as my boys and learn with them, IF the pain and frustration didn't get the best of me before it "clicks".

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Go for it. Your boys will get a kick out of it.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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OK, first of all, my condolences. I get about 40 days a season and I think that's too little.

As to the original question, one option is to split your day. An hour on the blacks, and hour with the family. Rinse, repeat.

Another option is to work on stuff you can do on the green run while you're with your family. Damifino what that is for skiing, but for me, when I'm up with the family and my wife wants me to keep her company, I either ride switch, or I stop and wait for her and practice ollies, butters, pretzels (assuming I could ever do one), and whatever else.

Third option is to switch to snowboarding. So, here's how it went with me. I started at 51 after going up with my daughter's school as a volunteer parent. I used to ski way back when, and watching the snowboarders they seemed to be having a lot of fun. I rented the equipment went to the bunny slope, and flopped around like a fish for an hour or so. But watching what snowboarders were doing helped, and by the end of the day I was (A) going down green runs, and (B) hooked.

Being a skier will help because you'll understand about snow, edges, and so forth. Being a current skier might get in your way because your reflexes will be telling you to do Really Bad Things.

I'd suggest you get a private lesson for yourself and your boys (at my local mountain they charge a little extra for multiple people) and prepare to get your ass handed to you because your boys are going to leave you behind!

I doubt you'll care though, because if you like skiing you'll like snowboarding.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for your comments Donutz!

Quote:
So, here's how it went with me. I started at 51 after going up with my daughter's school as a volunteer parent. I used to ski way back when, and watching the snowboarders they seemed to be having a lot of fun. I rented the equipment went to the bunny slope, and flopped around like a fish for an hour or so. But watching what snowboarders were doing helped, and by the end of the day I was (A) going down green runs, and (B) hooked.
Now if that's the way it goes for me I'll be THRILLED! I do plan to take a group lesson on day one and probably a private lesson or two later in the week to try and get me over the hump as reasonably fast as possible. And I do have a rudimentary understanding of snow and edges, and already have a fairly good mental grasp of the basic techniques based on watching all the videos and reading the book. Of course I'm sure I'll still go through the flopping fish stage for at least a day or two simply because translating mental understanding to actual physical movements can be easier said than done.

Anyway, I'm still pretty sure that I'm going to give it a try. I just keep having second thoughts whenever I read comments like some of the ones in the threads I linked to in my first post (and lots of other similar threads):

Quote:
"To all newbs....just go more...it will click...just save yourself to ride another day."

"Your story pretty much sounds like everyone that's ever started snowboarding. At this point, there's not much advice to give besides doing it more often."

"It sucks when "life" interferes but if you want to get better and enable your muscles to adapt to the load, you need to increase your frequency."
That all sounds like great advice, but as mentioned I really can't "just go more". No matter how much I learn this trip, I probably won't be able to go again until at least January 2014.





Quote:
"i thought snowboarding was stupid the first few times i went. Im a big dude 6'2 260 and gravity is a bitch, in a matter of days i had a bruised tailbone and a beaten up body considered quitting but i was hooked. You just gotta stick it out, physically snowboarding was as rough as playing rugby so yea its normal to get beaten up in the beginning."

"Make sure you really want to do this badly. I would have never been able to push through the pain and difficulty of being out of shape but I REALLY wanted to snowboard."

"It is going to hurt!! Before I started snowboarding I asked a few of my friends who had kids if they ever snowboarded. These guys were all in great shape and worked out regularly. Everyone of them told me don't do it. They said it hurt more than anything they have ever done and they would never get on a board again. It hurts to walk in the boots when you start, falling hurts and your pride hurts. Your body will adapt and it will stop hurting."

"Leaning to snowboard at age 36 was far and away the most frustrating thing I have ever done. Many tears were shed! Trips to First Aid, Urgent Care and the ER were all part of my learning curve. I think I took 6 lessons total, and I was still a disaster. I got pissed and determined that snowboarding was not going to beat me. Now I LOVE it!"

"It took me years to learn to snowboard, and I'm still not 100% sure I can say that I snowboard. I used to go a few times a year, and each day I would come back so sore that it hurt to get out of my car. Really, it's physically one of the toughest things I've ever done."

"my girlfriend started a similar way..she's been out on the hill about 10 times now, and she's gone from struggling with the bunny hill to just finishing her first blue run this past sunday. she's got bruises on her legs, her knees, her butt, she sprained some ligaments in her shoulder..but she kept kicking. the point is, its really all about how badly you want it."

"learning to snowboard sucks..it sucks more for some than for others, but it definitely sucks."

Talk like that really makes an old guy nervous. And those quotes are from avid snowboarders who were trying to be encouraging.

Maybe I should just stop reading....

David
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd bring the skis just to explore more terrain! You can't go all the way out there and not ride some awesome trails!

Bring the skis, but take a group snowboard lesson or two.

ALSO, don't pull that crazy parent stuff I see all the time and try to take a private lesson with your sons. It might seem like a good idea, but you will learn less, and it is difficult to teach kids at different ages, let alone throw a parent in the mix. I've had to teach many a lesson where the parents "tried" to learn with the kids and, while I have taught many people to snowboard in 2 hours, these lessons are not nearly as successful. 9 and 13 year olds should be taught as kids and the methods of teaching them (even only 4 years apart) are different.

Save the money, throw the kids in 2 to 3 group lessons before you consider private lessons and take an adult group lesson yourself. Then you can ride with the kids after your time apart.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks BigmountainVMD! I plan to leave my skis at home simply so that I'm not tempted to give up on snowboarding too easily. Also, I expect to be completely exhausted after each day's snowboarding lesson and/or practice, and I don't want to add to that exhaustion by trying to ski when I should be resting up for the next day of battle. I spent a couple of days skiing at Brian Head last January by myself (took a break from the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas). B.H. is a fairly small resort and I've already explored most of the trails there that are within my skiing skill level, so I don't feel like I'd be missing much by being on a snowboard on the green runs most of the week.

But you read my mind about the "crazy parent stuff". I had definitely planned to take a shared private lesson with the boys, thinking that we would enjoy it and probably get more individual attention with a private instructor as opposed to being one of 5-10 strangers in a group lesson. Not to mention the fact that my boys would probably get a big kick out of seeing their old man bust his ass a few times. But your logic (and experience) makes perfect sense, so I'll drop the idea of taking lessons together. The last thing I want to do is make the experience less successful than it could be for ANY of us.

B.H. considers 12 year-olds and under to be kids, and 13 year-olds are supposed to take "adult" lessons. My older son tends to be pretty shy and I thought he might be more comfortable in class with his brother and some other younger kids, so I had thought about asking the school if they could put the boys in the same group lesson together. But based on what you're saying, I shouldn't even do that?

David
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Meant to report back here weeks ago, but just been busy. Anyway, we had a wonderful week in Brian Head and I came away absolutely CRAZY about snowboarding!

On the first day (Monday) my wife spent the day buying groceries and cooking while me and my two boys took snowboarding lessons. My youngest son went to kidsí camp, and my older son and I took group lessons together (I know folks here recommended against that, but it wasn't my decision, they just didn't have enough "adult" students to split us up). My oldest son was struggling from the start and not having much fun, and then fell and hurt his wrist right before lunch, so he quit for the day and went back to the slopeside condo. That left just me and a teenage girl in our group, so it was almost a private lesson. I was doing pretty well, and the young girl was a surfer from Hawaii, so she was pretty agile and was picking it up fast too. By the end of the day, we were going down long greens from the top of Navajo Mountain. At the end of the day when we picked up my youngest son, he didn't seem to have had much fun.

On Tuesday we took the day off and went snowmobiling and snow tubing.

Then on Wednesday my oldest son took skiing lessons. He had skied once before about 6 years ago, so he picked that back up pretty quickly and was having MUCH more fun! My wife and I encouraged (pushed) our youngest son to take another day of snowboard lessons, hoping that he would get better and like it more, but at the end of the day, he still wasn't crazy about it. I snowboarded that day while my wife skied and I had a blast! Of course I must have fallen about a thousand times, but most of them weren't too bad. Now ONE time I did catch my heel edge and did a REALLY hard butt-plant and hit my head on the snow pretty good. Fortunately I was wearing an Azzpad and a helmet, so no permanent damage was done. But it damn sure rattled my bones and hurt for a few minutes.

On Thursday, my oldest son and wife skied again, with me on the snowboard. We all had fun and my oldest son was having a great time on skis. And after two days of snowboard lessons, my youngest son had had enough and wanted to ski instead. He saw how much fun his older brother had on skis the day before (and his big brother was telling him how much easier skiing was). So Thursday he took a group ski lesson and was MUCH happier!! After two days on the snowboard, he couldn't even make it down the bunny slope without falling every few feet, but at the end of his FIRST day on skis, he went down the bunny slope with his mother and I, without falling and with a big grin on his face.

About two hours before the lifts closed on Thursday, I took a private snowboarding lesson and made some real progress! Before the lesson, I had gotten to the point where I could link turns, but not really smoothly. Here's a very brief video taken about an hour before the lesson: Snowboarding at Brian Head During the lesson, my instructor (Brittany) really worked on my linked turn transitions and got me to lead with my hips instead of my shoulders, and it made a HUGE difference!! The last 45 minutes or so before the lifts closed, I went down a couple of long green runs and was confidently linking turns the whole way (not at high speed of course, but significantly faster than before the lesson). It was such a blast!! Unfortunately I couldn't find any video footage of me after the lesson (I was usually the one holding the camera trying to get lots of footage of the boys).

So on Friday (our last day on snow) my wife and two boys skied while I snowboarded and we all stayed together most of the time, except for a couple of hours when the boys wanted to snow tube. I wasn't about to give up any precious time on my last day, so I stayed on the board. Early that morning the snow was a bit icy, and it seemed like I had lost most of what I had learned the day before, but then the snow started softening up and I began to "feel it" again. The last two runs of the day were so much fun it brought tears to my eyes!

So the trip was a huge success and my introduction to snowboarding went as well as I could have possibly imagined. I was a bit sore, but not as bad as I had feared (I was actually able to sit on a horse the next day for nearly two hours on a tour of Bryce Canyon!) I never would have expected my two sons to NOT like snowboarding, but I guess they just didn't get over the hump fast enough (not enough instant gratification). They're not in the best aerobic shape (for the same reason many kids aren't - too much time in front of the TV, the computer, and video games) but they do have reasonably good balance and love to ride their scooters and bikes. I guess I just wanted to learn REALLY badly and that seemed to be the main difference. Plus I had read lots of advice here and in books, and watched lots of videos on snowboarding (plus had years of skiing experience, which probably helped at least a LITTLE just because of edge awareness) so I was pretty well prepared and expecting the worst. In any case I'm really glad they had fun on skis, and the most important thing is that they're all excited about going back next year!

We spent a couple of days in Vegas before flying home, and I was so excited about snowboarding that I decided to do a bit of shopping. The board I rented after my group lesson seemed really nice (based on my VERY limited knowledge) but the boots really STANK and had some pressure points. Plus I kept wishing they were stiffer. I decided that Iíd love to have my own boots for next year (and just rent a board) and I thought I might find some good year-end closeout deals. So I went to McGhie's Ski, Bike and Board and spent some time trying on boots with their resident boot fitter. Their year-end selection wasn't huge, but they had about six different boots in my size that I tried on. My favorite based on fit and comfort and stiffness was a pair of Salomon Savage Boa Str8jkt boots. Most other boots had some minor discomfort or pressure points almost immediately, but I walked around in the Savage boots for about 20 minutes with no discomfort (a pair of Burtons were a very close second but ultimately the Savage boots fit my feet a bit better). The closeout price was only a hundred bucks, so I figured I couldn't lose! Even if Iím not crazy about them after using them on the slopes for a few days next year, I should be able to sell them for pretty close to what I have in them.

Anyway, if youíve read this far, you must be really bored. But I just wanted to say thanks for the advice I got here a few months ago. Canít wait to get back on the snow next season!

David
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I say go for it. I'm 28 and started boarding this year after 20 years on skis and I'm so happy I made the switch. Everyone I know that's tried boarding after skiing for years wishes they had made the switch sooner. It's so much more fun.

You should be comfortable enough after 1 or 2 lessons to be able to go down blues skid turning. Definitely get padded shorts! I got them after a few days of landing on my ass a lot and it helps so much. I even have a padded shirt which has saved me from some nasty bruises on high speed falls or off jumps. I got my gear from allsportprotection
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