Feeling free, closeness to nature, adrenaline, physical commitment and sharing with friends. Snowboarding is full of sensations and feelings that will help you let go of daily life and find yourself in simple but precious pleasures.
But how to get started? We asked Elisabetta, instructor and passionate snowboarder.
To give you good advice, we naturally turned to Elisabetta, snowboarding instructor at the Courmayeur school. She tells us about her vision of snowboarding and how it is taught; mentions what holds people back, preconceived ideas and how to lift them to get to a good start!
DREAMSCAPE: How old were you when you started snowboarding? How long have you taught?
Elisabetta: I am Elisabetta, I am 25 and I started snowboarding at the age of 15. I have been an instructor for 3 years now. I have taught snowboarding to all different kinds of people, from children to adults.
As a snowboard instructor, I promise, there are no barriers to learning. What I love the most about my job is to see the satisfaction my students feel when starting this sport and hearing them at the end of the session: "Thank you for the great experience, snowboarding is so fun"
My aim as an instructor is to make snowboarding accessible to all and make sure that everyone can get off to a good start when snowboarding.
DREAMSCAPE: What is the proportion of beginners in your students? How old are your students?
Elisabetta: Generally, most people who want lessons are beginners. Indeed, I recommend that beginners spend their first days on a snowboard with an instructor to have a strong technical base and be able to progress faster.
As for the age of my students, it varies quite a bit. Most are young, aged 15 to 35 years old. Also a lot of kids. I have taught several children aged 3 to 4 years. There are plenty of adults as well. In fact, they feel the most need to be taught to be reassured and learn safely.
DREAMSCAPE: What is your advice to enjoy a first snowboarding experience?
Elisabetta: To get off to a good start on a snowboard, we recommend that you have lessons with an instructor. If you want to progress and get to a good level, the main thing is to have strong basic technique. Without the right advice at the start, it will be hard to improve as you will be building on weak foundations and/or the wrong positions. Personally, I recommend that you take at least 6 to 8 hours of lessons at the start to acquire the basics.
After, it is good to practice alone to gain confidence. Once you know how to go down a low gradient slope alone without any problem, you may need more lessons to improve your technique or specialize in freestyle or freeride.
Everyone learns at a different pace and it varies depending on physical and mental preparation. Many sports can help you prepare. It will be easier for somebody who already practices other board sports such as skateboarding, surfing, wakeboarding to start snowboarding... Skiing also helps you on your first snowboarding runs.
"You don't need to know how to ski to learn to snowboard"
DREAMSCAPE: Do you have to know how to ski to learn to snowboard?
Elisabetta: You can start snowboarding even if you have never seen snow in your life before! To be honest, those who appreciate their snowboarding experience the most are those for whom their first snowboarding lesson is a first experience on snow and on a board. They will remember it as a unique experience. So, even if the basics of skiing can help technically (particularly for edge control), you can learn to snowboard without ever having practiced any board sport on snow before.
DREAMSCAPE: When you are learning, what are the differenced between skiing and snowboarding?
Elisabetta: The real difference between snowboarding and skiing is the position when you go down a slope. On skis, you face the slope. It can be more impressive, but it is more certainly more comfortable and intuitive. With a snowboard, you are always sideways: a less natural position for those who don't practice any other board sport. The major advantage of skiing is the freedom of movement you have when you wear a ski on each foot, and they are separate. It is easier to move and balance. On the snowboard, the two feet are anchored to the board. Balance and position are harder to get the hang of when you are learning. Once you have got it, you will get great sensations on a snowboard. Once you have overcome this first obstacle, snowboarding will be much easier on your lower joints, especially those with knee trouble. And let's get this straight, snowboarding is a lot more fun than skiing.
DREAMSCAPE: Once on the snow, what advice you would give to those learning to snowboard?
Elisabetta: One of the most important rules is to look where you are going. When you are learning to snowboard, it is tempting to look to the ground. It is one of the main mistakes you need to avoid. The eyes and weight of the head direct the rest of the body and you must always turn them towards the distance or where you want to go. It is one of the basics to learn to control and turn the board.
A second important point: always breathe. When you exercise or when you concentrate on new movements, you often stop concentrating on your breathing. To learn the correct position and to manage your physical effort, you must always ensure your body has enough oxygen. Because your body relaxes when you breathe, if you breathe well you will learn better and will get tired later and be back from the mountain later.
The motto: "Enjoy yourself and have fun"
Elisabetta: Oh and don't forget the most important thing when you are learning and continuing to snowboard, to have fun!
At first, you will have other priorities: learning, progressing, concentration, controlling the stress of this new activity... But all that should come second and the fundamental element of a snowboarding session should always be enjoyment and fun.
DREAMSCAPE: At what age can you start snowboarding? How old was your youngest pupil?
Elisabetta: Unlike what you may believe, there isn't an ideal age to learn to snowboard. There are plenty of 3-year-olds who have fun with a snowboard on their feet, just present the sport as a game, and then the board will become their new best best friend.
Anything is good for them to enjoy their first sensations on a board. being pulled along on the snow with a board under their feet, going down while holding hands with the instructor (or parents), or even using the board as a sled...
My youngest pupil was 3 years old. The key is to teach differently. Children need to play and view exercise as a game. You can't give a theoretical lesson to a three year old child... In my lessons, I often use games such as "tag", a ball or a hula hoop!
DREAMSCAPE: Are there barriers to learning snowboarding for adults?
For adults who don't dare learn snowboarding because or fear or apprehension, or who consider snowboarding to be a sport for young adrenaline junkies, I can assure you that with the right body protection and direct assistance (at the start), you will soon be able to do your first turns to quickly find physical and psychological pleasure in snowboarding!
DREAMSCAPE: Do parents find it hard to put their children on a snowboard?
Yes, a lot of parents are reluctant. There are different reasons, often linked to the fact that snowboarding is considered a dangerous and difficult sport. Moreover, we have often heard that before the age of 10, it is dangerous for a child to snowboard. However, all recent studies have proved otherwise.
For a parent, it is great to see their child progress quickly. And the balance acquired through skiing enables quick learning. However, personally I think that we should not go against the wishes of a child who wants to learn to snowboard.
Passion and motivation are fundamental to learn and progress safely.
In fact, you should view snowboarding and skiing as two complementary sports that enable children to develop motor skills that are important to their development.