Snowboard lessons not just for children any longer

Boreal offers a great climate for learning to snowboard
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Unlike the past, a beginning snowboard lesson now often includes a variety of ages, because it’s now an accepted winter sport that’s not just for kids.


A group lesson might include the 40-something guy looking to switch from skis to the board; a youngster under 10 who is anxious to snowboard because it looks cool; or a teenager who wants to hop on the board because that’s what all his friends are doing.


While snowboarding can be tougher initially, many industry insiders feel skiing is more difficult to master. Skiing has a lot more technical aspects in order to become proficient, while snowboarding is a little trickier in the early stages, but overall it’s less precise than skiing.


Considering the youthful impatience of many teens and younger aged children, snowboarding might be the way to go.


Starting out on a snowboard is one of those no-pain, no-gain endeavors. So let’s get this proven fact out in the open right away – expect to fall frequently. Although the chances of taking a lesson and getting hurt are minimal, be prepared to fall and be rolling around in the snow.


With that in mind, here is a tip that many first-time snowboarders wished they had known. Make sure to wear waterproof pants and warm gloves. The biggest mistake many people make is wearing jeans, which get soaked after a few falls.


While all Lake Tahoe area resorts offer a good learning environment for snowboarding, it’s tough to beat Boreal, which is where many first-timers wind up. The popular resort off Interstate 80 past Soda Springs has a modest terrain that starts at 7,200 feet and rises to only 7,700, so even from the freeway one can see Boreal is not an intimidating hill.


Boreal has a beginner’s package that costs $65 for ages eight and above, which includes a 1 ¾-hour lesson, beginner lift ticket and equipment rental. Two subsequent follow-up lessons are $25 each and also include lift ticket and equipment rental.


The resort not only offers an introductory lesson on a groomed portion of the mountain, it will take the more daring riders to a beginner terrain park for some instruction there as well.


For that first lesson, beginners are introduced to the equipment and safety will be discussed, which includes how to get on and off a chairlift. Balance and technique, two crucial aspects, will be stressed with a goal of having people be able to master linking turns that first day.


Coming back for a second lesson is advisable, yet many people want to get out on their own immediately, especially teenagers. Although not always ready, they often think the opposite.


Jeffrey Weidel is a Sacramento free-lance writer with more than 25 years of skiing experience