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A Beginner's Guide to Snowboarding

If you've ever watched the Winter Olympics, then you've probably seen famous snowboarders like Shaun White shred the halfpipe. While snowboarding may seem like an extreme sport, it doesn't need to be. With the right gear and a little practice, snowboarding can be an exciting activity the whole family can enjoy. In addition to being fun, snowboarding is a great cardiovascular exercise that strengthens your muscles and burns a lot of calories.

Before you go to the mountain, it’s important you have the right clothing. Because you'll be on the mountain facing cold, snowy terrains, you'll need apparel that will keep you warm, comfortable and dry all day long. Stick to the leading brands of outdoor winter gear, like Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Salomon. Clothes from these brands utilize the latest technologies to retain heat and keep cold air and water out. You can find these top brands at your local sporting goods store or buy their shoes and clothing online.

As for your snowboard and shoes, you can borrow them from a friend or rent them at the bottom of the mountain. Only borrow equipment from a friend if you are the same height and weight. A board that's too big for you will be hard to maneuver and control, whereas a board that's too small will be too loose and difficult to control at fast speeds and in deep snow. Your boots should also fit comfortably. The shop crew will able to help you select the right sizes.

Once you have all your gear, you're ready to learn how to snowboard.  If you have no prior experience, it's best to take a professional lesson or have an experienced and patient friend teach you the basics. Many mountains have a Bunny Hill or an area designated for learners. Here you can practice your skills without getting stuck on a steep slope or building up too much speed.

When you reach the beginner's area you need to figure out your stance, or the direction you'll face when you board down the mountain. This will help you when you do finally strap into your board. To strap your feet into your board, sit in a seated position facing downhill. Once your feet are strapped in, stand up and turn your board down the slope. When you're ready, practice putting yourself back onto your heel edge and coming to a stop. Then try to stop on your toes. See how long you can ride across the slope on both edges before coming to a stop.

After practicing a few times, you're ready to get on the ski lift. Stick to the easy slopes and avoid them if they're icy. If you fall on your first couple rides, don't worry. It's only a natural part of learning, and you'll be protected by the soft snow. Practice stopping, controlling your speed and turning. With enough practice, you'll master snowboarding in no time.

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