Get Schooled by TRAVIS: Snowboarding

Since the snow is going to fall, we thought you could all learn some tricks to snowboarding. TRAVIS writer Jon Kennedy gives you an inside look on how to look like a sick rider even though you have never been on the hill before. It’s not going to be easy, but we will hold your gloved hand and tell you to bend your knees while brushing off your snow-covered bottom. Now lean into it. Oh, oh, bend your knees. Ouch. “Are you okay?”

Learn how to ride like these dope little riders.

Learn how to ride like these dope little riders.

Winter is around the corner and along with it comes the snow, the cold and the boredom. Well, that is what you think if you’re lame. It is Snowboarding Season people. A time when the snow lovers live it up during the short winter days and long fire-lit nights. The ones in the stylish gear who leave the city as much as possible to cozy-up in chalets and hit the hills. It is time for winter fun and there is no better way than snowboarding and skiing. So start now and you will never dread winter again. The following advice is applicable to both skiers and boarders.

Let’s get some snowboarding facts on the table before you decide to run out and drop money on clothes, gear and passes. First, just so you know, you are going to look really silly learning to snowboard. This is true for everyone. Secondly, you are going to fall down because everyone falls down. It is part of human nature. Falling. I know people who fall down walking so at least with snowboarding, you land on snow and you are wearing protective gear. Which brings me to the third basic fact; helmets are essential. Luckily, snowboarding helmets look sweet (not like the nerdy but still important bicycle helmets) and when you are wearing goggles and bandanas, helmets make you look hardcore. Buy one and wear it.

Now that you are over the basic fears of snowboarding, go out and spend some money. Snowboarding is one of the few sports that have the latest in designs and styles.

There are so many clothing companies out there, so do some research if you are unsure of the quality; otherwise, stick to the major brands such as Burton, Analog or Volcom (there are many more). The clothes shouldn’t restrict your movement (an amazing excuse to go back to baggy pants) but still must fit appropriately. You need pants that are reinforced in the knees and ass because you are going to fall (see above). Your jacket should have a lining that snaps around your stomach and wrists. This stops snow from shooting up your jacket. Gloves are a key ingredient in the snowboarding look, so make sure they are tough, warm and won’t allow snow to get in through the cuff. The last item is goggles. They keep your eyes dry. If you don’t, when you are cruising down the hill, your eyes will water like those of a newborn puppy. Also, coloured lens’ help with snow blindness and allow you to look mysterious (think superhero). These are the basics in clothing but feel free to make your look by adding toques, scarves, bandanas or whatever else is functional and looks dope.
You look like a boarder, which is cool, but maybe you actually want to snowboard. You need boots, bindings and, of course, a board.

To make it easy for newbies, boards and bindings are usually sold together, unless you know what you want. Buy out of season (the summer) or look for gear from last season or used gear because it will save you cash that can be spent on drinks at the chalet. Same rule applies as clothing: Research the brand or stick to the majors. Get the right size and width (the boards do come in sizes). The shorter and the fatter, the slower and more control you will have. Do you ride goofy or regular? Here is how to find out. Stand straight and have a friend push you from behind. If your right leg steps forward to stop yourself, you are goofy (you freak) and if your left legs steps out, you are regular (boring). It is just the way you ride, unless you ride switch stance, which is when you ride in your unnatural stance. Boots need to fit snug and be comfortable. You are gonna be wearing them all day so make sure they love your feet.

You look good, feel good and are ready to hit the hill, but where is the hill? Blue Mountain in Collingwood is the staple hill and it is fun but often busy on the weekends, plus it is a bit of a drive. Glen Eden in Milton has less runs (it does have a pipe though) but is close at hand and has great night riding. In Toronto there is Earl Bales Park (401 and Bathurst), Centennial Park (401 and the 427) and the fresh Ripley’s Snow Park located downtown Toronto (the Docks) which has a huge freestyle, skatepark style. Even east of Toronto there are numerous parks, only 45 minutes from Sheridan College. Get online, search for Snow Parks in GTA and you will be surprised how many hills are right next door.

Now you have everything you need to know to join the world of snowboarding. No more excuses, get up, grab some gear, call some friends, hit the hill (if it is your first time, take a day lesson from the pros, trust me, it will give you everything you need to know technically) and have endless hours of winter fun or sitting on your bum.

text by jonkennedy
The article originally ran in the November print issue of TRAVIS.

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  1. Nice article, I’ve not seen Travis magazine before. I’ll have to look out for it. I can’t wait for snowboard season to start… so close…so close

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