Heading to the slopes this season? First time on a snowboard? Look and sound like a pro with this handy guide from our expert in the Alps, Andy Tindall from Rude Chalets.
“You are goofy.” Or so says the employee in the snowboarding shop who speaks a mountain dialect you only partially understand. Fortunately, you've played plenty of video games and understand what goofy means: to stand on a snowboard with your right foot in front, obviously. It’s your first time on the white stuff and your encounter with the shop assistant has taught you two things: firstly, facial hair is popular in the Alps and secondly, you’re going to need a dictionary to understand the beard-muffled lingo of the mountains. So here are ten key phrases to guide you from A to steazy:
Bail: Deciding at the last moment not to commit to a trick, which often results in a bruised ego and/or a bruised behind. Bluebird: A beautiful, cloudless day that encourages the drinking of vin chaud at lunchtime and makes skiers and snowboarders alike feel ‘stoked’. Butter: A dairy-based condiment spread on croissants, or a type of snowboard trick performed on the ground. Jibs: Natural and man-made features found on the side of pistes that you can incorporate into tricks. Shredding pow: If you are ‘shredding pow’ you are carving through fresh snow like a hot knife through butter.
Steazy: A combination of the words stylish and easy. If someone says you are ‘steazy’ then you are doing it right. Sticks and Trays: Nothing says you know what you are talking about more than using these words instead of skis and snowboards. Stoked: A term adopted from shaggy-haired surfers meaning you feel pretty darn chuffed. Stomp a landing: Landing nicely (instead of on you bum or face) after a trick has been performed in the air. T**t gap: Some snowboarders make an effort at not making an effort with their appearance. At the other end of the spectrum are the boarders who get emotional if there is a space between the top of their new goggles and the rim of their helmet, otherwise known as a ‘t**t gap’.
Now you’ve got the lingo covered you need to think about your look. Typical snowboarder attire is super-baggy snow pants and jacket. Interestingly, Shaun White, who as you know has been the most dominant force in freestyle snowboarding for the past decade , has recently taken to donning snug-fitting black leather jackets and pants.
However, Shaun wears his get-up for a half pipe run lasting sixty seconds while your outfit will need to keep you comfy for up to six hours in all conditions. Here are a handful of ways that will make you look awesome on the slopes without substituting practicality:
Goggles: As a general rule, the bigger the better as this improves your peripheral vision. Snowboarders go down the mountain sideways and therefore have a pretty sizeable blind spot. You don’t want goggles that are going to limit your field of view.
Gloves: Practicality comes first as with all snowboarding equipment. Don’t wear thin gloves in a January blizzard. However, dextrous gloves alert onlookers that you will be ‘getting air’ and ‘making grabs’ (doing jumps and grabbing your board).
Colours: There’s no hard and fast rule here. Neon is a little 2000’s and synonymous with skiers but you can still work the neon look if you have the other elements nailed.
Snowboard/boots: In this case, vanity is insanity. If you are buying your own board or boots, make sure not to select them based on appearance. Listen to the shaggy-haired expert in the shop and get a board that compliments your needs and boots that fit you comfortably.
So now you look and sound like a snowboarding pro. And if you plan to spend your days drinking mulled wine in one of the après bars no one will be any the wiser. But ideally your snowboarding skills should match your look. Here’s what you need to do to walk the walk:
Lessons: You knew this was coming! Lessons will ensure you’re technically sound and that you look stylish and in control from day one. They also cost less than a round of tequila shots and are slightly less painful.
Apply yourself: While snowboarding is a sport known for its relaxed nature, you have to put in some effort. Practise what you learn from your instructor, watch quality YouTube videos and don’t fall into bad habits.
Freestyle: Nothing says seasoned snowboarder more than spinning, grabbing and being upside down. You can get freestyle lessons to help you once you are proficient at regular snowboarding. Freestyle is less dependent on good snow and many companies offer great rates on freestyle weeks at the tail end of the season when the sun is shining and the snow is more bum-impact friendly.