Never too old to shred - snowboarding
More and more adult boarders are appearing on the slopes of Western ski resorts, joining the legions of brash young skate-and-surf types who have popularized snowboarding since its arrival on the alpine scene a decade ago. Most adult snowboarders are learning to "shred" through ski schools, where they discover that it's not as difficult as it looks. In fact, most professional ski instructors say that snowboarding is easier to learn than skiing. If you've ever been curious about snowboarding, it's worth signing up for a lesson or two, no matter what your age or experience on snow. Armed with an open mind and some patience, you'll soon get a feel for snowboarding's rhythmic moves, which are downright liberating. No hard boots, no poles, no crossed tips: just you, the board, and a giant frozen wave.
Once you're proficient enough to roam the slopes, you'll discover the free-flowing sensation of the snowboard in powder and ungroomed snow. Snowboards also excel in warm conditions that can be difficult or even hazardous for skiers.
LEARNING THE BASICS
Most Western ski areas now allow and encourage snowboarding (Alpine Meadows in California and Park City in Utah are two notable exceptions). In addition to classes for children and mixed ages, many areas offer ones for adults or women only. Novice packages are often reasonably priced (expect to pay about $50) and usually include board and boot rental, a 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-hour lesson, and a lift ticket.
In a typical group lesson (usually four to eight people--many fewer than a typical ski class), you start on a gently sloping beginner area where, after stretching exercises and a safety talk, you strap your front foot (left or right, depending on your natural inclination) into the binding. Your instructor will have you shuffle around, skateboard-style, just to get used to the board underfoot.
Next, you practice side-slipping to get a sense of holding an edge. After that, you're ready to assume the proper forward-leaning, bent-knees, outstretched-arms stance and ride the board in a slow, straight line for a short distance. Once you feel comfortable with standing on the board while it's moving, you strap in the rear foot and practice turning by leaning hard on the heel- and toe-side edges. Finally, you learn to link turns, using sinking and rising body movements to help pivot the nose of your board across the fall line. By the end of the session, you may be ready to ride a chairlift to the top of the bunny hill for some serious shredding.
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