The transition from skier to snowboarder was not as easy as expected. I picked up skiing pretty quickly and was comfortable on the mountain, so I figured snowboarding should be an easy transition. Boy, was I wrong. There are a couple of similarities such as balance, and good posture but snowboarding was more challenging than I anticipated. I learned some pretty tough lessons. I wished these lessons had come in the form of advice, rather than personal experience.
Expect to fall- A LOT! At first, I spent more time on the ground than snowboarding. Falling is inevitable. You fall forward, backward- any direction. Your wrists, ankles, head, back and behind are at risk of getting hurt. I have had a bruised tailbone, sprained ankle, and whiplash. I am lucky. I heard of people breaking their wrists because when they fall forward, they use their hands to catch their fall. This is where pads are a saving grace. Make sure to wear a helmet at all times. Get wrist, knee and hip pads as well so when you do fall, it is a little more comfortable and you are not at risk of breaking bones.
After one lesson of skiing, I was able to do snowplowing and basic turning. I was able to ski one little green run. After one lesson of snowboarding, I could barely get up on the board. I wasn’t able to ride on my own at all. Professional multiple lessons is necessary. It takes about 3 lessons before one can really use their toeside and heelside to turn and maneuver the snowboard. You might still fall but after a few lessons, you will at least be able to be independent and comfortable.
It’s a New Skill Set
Whatever you learned in skiing won’t apply in snowboarding. Snowboarding is a different skill set. When you are used to having each leg free as in skiing, you learn to turn with your legs. You spread your legs out in a snowplow (upside-down V shape) to control speed and stop. Snowboarding is completely different. Both legs are bound to one board and this feels awkward at first. Also, turning is not as easy. You can’t really use your legs to turn, instead you use your board edges. You use your heelside and toeside to turn and maneuver down the mountain. This is very tiring and can be frustrating if not timed right.
Also, people will tell you that if you can skateboard, wakeboard, or surf, you can easily snowboard. When I finally took a lesson, I took a lesson with a few other friends. They each had experience in at least one of the above sports, unlike myself. I discovered that it helps if you have done the above activities, balance-wise, but as far as skills, it will not help you. It is a different skill set. My friends were struggling and they were unable to control their boards. They fell as much or more than I did. I actually performed better than they did.
Be patient, take your time, practice and have fun. You will learn to snowboard.