Learning how to snowboard is awesome, especially after you get your balance dialed in and gain some initial control over your board. The balance and board control can take some people an hour or less to learn, while others may need a couple of days of side-slipping before they make that first bona fide turn. If you have never surfed, skateboarded or skied, sliding down a hill on a snowboard for the first time might feel a bit sketchy…. enter Learn to Ride Programs! Learn to Ride programs are run by trained snowboard instructors whose job it is to get you up and moving on your board so that you can start making those first turns as soon as you are ready. They keep you focused only on the essentials and move you along the progression line in a way that allows you to develop the skills you will use every time you head out to shred.
Right now is a great time to get into a program. The season is off to a good start and there will be lots of opportunities through March to ride and practice your new skills. Best of all, January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. To promote the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, most ski areas are offering lesson packages at special rates as an incentive to get more people outdoors and having fun on the hill. Some of these programs offer gift certificates to snowboard shops for kids and adults who take first-time lessons at participating ski areas. The Bring A Friend Challenge program rewards riders who bring a friend to participating ski areas and have them sign up for their first lesson. Both the riders and the people they sign up are eligible to receive prizes, snowboard vacations, and gift certificates.
Last year over 153,000 kids and adults took ski and snowboard lessons through the Learn to Ski and Snowboard program, making it incredibly successful. This year the program looks to build off those accomplishments and expand to more areas and retailers. As an additional incentive, riders who bring at least three new riders and skiers who sign up for first time lessons at participating ski areas by March 14 will get the “Ambassador” status. Ambassadors are eligible to win snowboard trips, a seasons’ pass, apparel, gifts and a new snowboard set-up fron Flow Snowboards. Snowboard trip prizes include trips for two to great ski areas around Salt Lake City, Mt Bachelor, Squaw Valley, Stowe Mountain, Lake Placid, and Whiteface.
The Learn to Ski and Snowboard program also has a great kids package called Kids Ski/Ride Free, also known as the Passport program which is offered in many schools. Parents pay a very small administrative fee and get a range of lesson options from which they can choose out of the “Passport” booklet. New Hampshire offers three free tickets for the child plus savings on lessons and lift tickets. Vermont offers a similar package that includes season passes for children in the fifth grade. These packages are a great opportunity to introduce kids to snowboarding. They get to learn at an early age how to use their balance and physical abilities on a snowboard to control their speed through turning properly. This sets the foundation for every future challenge they take on in snowboarding.
There are also many other programs available at ski areas in our region that can be tailored to each individuals specific needs. Wachusett Mountain sends out vouchers to local snowboard shops called the BFF Package where, if you bring a friend, you can get one all day lift ticket plus a one day Learn to Turn lesson for only $75- it would normally cost you $150. That is great savings AND you can shred all the day while someone else teaches your buddy!
These programs can be as short as a half day of instruction, or can be drawn out over the course of several days depending on your schedule, progress, and budget. As I said earlier, some people will only need a couple of hours before they “get it” and others will take longer. The main thing is to have fun by understanding that this is something new for you and you are learning a skill that is pretty specialized. Have patience and give yourself time to really take it all in and follow through. Once you start linking turns, I guarantee you will have a big smile on your face and be filled with pride. And you deserve it!