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Tips for Early Season Snowboarding

Start slow, ride defensively, and leave that new board at home!


USA, Montana, Whitefish, Young man snowboarding in forest
Tetra Images/Noah Clayton/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
The first day of the season is always an exciting time. Back on your snowboard after a long summer, it's easy to overdue things and end up damaging your equipment, or even worse, your body. Keep these quick tips in mind and you'll be well on your way to a long, enjoyable season of snowboarding!

  • Make Sure You Have Everything. Before you leave for the mountain, look through your gear bag and make sure you have everything. Nothing ruins the first day out like forgetting your goggles even though you swore you left them in your backpack when you hung your gear up in April.

  • Start Slow. Snowboarding is like riding a bike - you never forget how to ride, but falls hurt just as much this time as they did the last. Take some time to get reacquainted with the snow, your gear, and gravity before trying that backside spin you spent the summer practicing on the diving board.

  • Ride Defensively. At the start of the season, terrain is often limited, with a large number of (sometimes shaky) skiers and riders competing for the same space. Again, take it slow, and be aware of others around you, particularly when making heelside turns (because snowboarders are "blind" (similar to a vehicle's blind spot) when making heelside turns, it's important to look over the uphill shoulder before cutting across a crowded trail.

  • Dress Appropriately. Dressing in layers will ensure you're prepared for changing weather conditions. Also, keep in mind that 32 °F/0 °C will feel colder in November than it did in February. My sister the biology major says this is because our bodies need to build up their stores of mitochondria in preparation for winter. All I know is a hoodie works in March, but not so much in November!

  • DO Leave the New Board Home. At the start of the season, resorts haven't had the time to build base depths, meaning bare spots and rocks kicked up by groomers are to be expected. Don't wreck your brand new board just yet! Most riders keep a "rock board" in their quiver for early and late season riding for this very reason.

  • But...DON'T Forget to Tune Your Ride. Early season snow is usually harder than the stuff you're used to riding in February, and high traffic tends to scrape off soft snow fairly quickly, so make sure to have your board tuned (edges sharpened and base waxed). Also remember to tighten your binding's mounting hardware, as it may have loosened over the summer.
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