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One For The Noobs - Are You New Or Thinking About Being New To Snow Sports? -- Ski Rex Says...


Are you thinking about getting into snow sports this season?

That's a wonderful idea and would be supported by the many, many snow sports enthusiasts that already enjoy those sports, specifically skiing and snowboarding. 

But, what should one do if they are just getting into snow sports? Well, if you are a noob, here are a few things for you to think about as you start your snow sports career.

First and foremost, before getting into anything specific, this is the season of COVID-19. No matter how you choose to get into skiing or snowboarding, make sure you are playing safe. Before you head out to the mountains, make sure you know all local, state, and regional travel restrictions and safety guidelines, as well as what each mountain is doing specifically. Do your research before you get on the road or into a plane and head to the ski area or resort.

Once you have sorted that out, which the experienced people should be sorting out as well, let's answer the question, "What should I be thinking about if I'm a noob?"

Get Started As Early In Life As Possible

Okay, so you might be an adult while reading this, so early in life might not be an option anymore. But, let's talk about the benefits of getting started as a child. This might be good for those that are getting started with their entire families or for those that have children that have expressed an interest in learning how to ski or snowboard.

Children have two main advantages when it comes to learning snow sports. The first is that they have no fear. As adults, we tend to be fearful to learn new things, especially things that can be dangerous, as a lot of sports can be. Kids don't always have that kind of fear. They don't know anything. They don't have a realization that they could get hurt, or even killed when doing something new. It's much easier, in that case, to lead them out there and show them what to do. Then, they just do it.

Actually, to that point, children are also like sponges. They are designed to learn as much as they can and they will take in almost anything. It's the best time to teach them new things.

Now, the second big advantage they have is their physical size. Kids are small, compact, and low to the ground. That gives them a nice, low center of gravity. Similar to improving a car's handling by lowering the vehicle, people can perform, in some cases, better when lowered, which kids just are. Also, this comes in handy with the point about fear. Kids don't have to be afraid to fall when they are lower to the ground.

So, if you have children that are showing an interest, get them out there. The sooner they can start learning, the better and easier time they are going to have while doing it.

Now For The Adults

Now, the rest of this, though geared more towards the adults, will also come in handy with the kids that we were just talking about. Keep that in mind, again, if you are looking to get your whole family out on the hill this year. 

First, do NOT go out and buy a ton of gear to get your snow sports career or hobby going. The fact is, if this is your first time out, you don't know if you're going to enjoy it. You might hate it or you just might not be able to do it. You might even find that you didn't like skiing, but you do like snowboarding. In that case, you've bought a pair of skis for nothing. If you buy your gear before you know, then you're out all of that money or you'll only be able to get a piece of it back when you sell your gear. Just buy the stuff that you know you can reuse. Buy your coat, buy your gloves, and your hat. The stuff you know will come out no matter what you're going to do during the winter. 

The exception to that is safety gear. Safety gear is something that you might need and isn't always available to rent or, in some cases, might need to be customized just for you. So, that you might have to take the loss on. It's true, some of that can be resold as well, but not all of it. You really shouldn't resell a mouthguard, for example. 

In the end, though, until you know that you have the hang of skiing or snowboarding and you know that you like it, rent whatever gear you can.

Secondly, get pro lessons, meaning, go ahead, and spend the money for professional, trained ski instructors to teach you. Yes, you might indeed have a friend that has been skiing or riding for a long time and they could teach you. The issue is that person, while a good friend who is there to show you how to do it, they are also there to hang out and ride with friends. It's just another day out on the hill for them.

You see, when you get an instructor to teach you, that's their job. They clock in and then head out to teach people. It's all they do all day. Through that experience, they might have better insight or technique than just a friend showing you the ropes. Plus, it's likely the instructor's experience will help them to not get frustrated with you when you don't pick it up very quickly. Friends tend to get frustrated. 

It's just a better all-around experience to be taught by a pro. It's also safer and because they are trained to teach, you'll likely get the hang of it quicker. It's also safer for others on the mountain. The instructors will either keep you in the learning area or be far more aware of what to do when it comes to having a bunch of noobs out on the rest of the mountain.

Also, ski or snowboard lesson packages usually include gear rental, so it's going to be a better deal, anyway, and ties into what you read about not buying gear right away.

Just so it's said, make double-sure if you are going to learn backcountry skiing or riding that you get someone who is trained to teach you. Once a person steps into the backcountry, they need to have skills that resort riders just don't need, as well as other safety equipment that resort riders don't use. While skiing and snowboarding are dangerous sports, backcountry skiing and snowboarding can become some of the most dangerous very quickly. This includes the need for avalanche training. Please, please make sure you are learning everything you can from a qualified instructor before heading out into the backcountry. 

As a third thought to keep in mind, try not to be scared. As was stated back in the section about children, adults are usually more fearful of learning new things like skiing and snowboarding than children are. We are more aware of the danger and getting hurt, and yes, even our own mortality.

That's also one of the bonuses for paying for lessons. The ski instructors are going to do their best to alleviate any fear a person may have, as well as one being able to take comfort in knowing that the person they are learning from actually knows what they are doing. 

Fear is not a good or bad thing in itself, don't forget. We need fear even though we may not like it a lot of the time. However, each person reacts to it differently and nobody can just say "Just don't be scared." It just doesn't work that way. So, try your best to not be afraid. Try to relax and have fun with it. But, if you are scared, tell the person teaching you. It'll only help. But, remember that once you get a few runs under your belt, the fear will start to fade on its own. It just takes a little time. 


Safety

Now, safety gets its own category because it's going to be different for each person. First, learning with a pro is the safest way one can learn, so it does tie in with that. But, as stated in the paragraph about the backcountry, sometimes one will need more or different safety equipment. Park and freestyle riding is also an example of this.

We know that helmets, knee and elbow pads, mouthguard, chest and back protection, and other safety equipment are available. Since everyone is going to be different, it should be said that you should do your own research as to what you will need or want. Again, consulting with a professional is one of the best ways to do this. 

With that said, the most common piece of safety equipment you'll see out there these days is helmets. They are almost reaching a point that more people have them than don't have them. But, they are still optional. There isn't a mountain out there that requires them at this time, though it is something that has been talked about for many years. In any case, a helmet can be a useful piece of safety equipment no matter how one chooses to ride, whether it be inbounds, backcountry, park, or any other type of skiing or snowboarding. It's good to have and something that you should think about getting. Again, it is true that a noob doesn't have to and shouldn't go all-in with gear right away, but a helmet is a good exception to that.  

With that, Friends, you should have a good place to start if you and/or your family are looking to become a snow sports noob this winter. It's totally worth it, as snow sports are a lot of fun and great for fitness. Just think before you act, do your research, learn from a pro, try not to be afraid, and don't worry about looking like a noob. If anyone says anything negative about being a noob, just remind them, in the way you see fit, that they were a noob once, too.

Be careful out there, but enjoy it!

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