Why You Should Take Up Snowboarding In 2018

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PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France competes, Eva Samkova of Czech Republic takes 3rd place, Alexandra Jekova of Bulgaria competes during the Snowboarding Women's Snowboard Cross Finals at Pheonix Snow Park on February 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Laurent Salino/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

The Pyeongchang Olympics were memorable for sports fans around the world, as well as for the athletes themselves. Both on and off the course, or slope, or rink (depending on your sport), we were treated to memorable performances of sporting brilliance. When watching the Games, it is easy to think of the possibilities in our lives that could have allowed us to share in the emotions that the athletes are going through right now. I have often asked myself the question: Had I drunk a few less beers and done a bit more exercise, could I have qualified for snowboarding at Pyeongchang?

Why You Should Take Up Snowboarding In 2018

As funny as it is to ask oneself such questions, the reality is a little less fun. But it need not be so. In fact, having thought about this a little too much, I have come to the conclusion that it is completely pointless to wonder what could have been, and just focus on the here and the now. It might be too late for people like me to take up a place on the podium at the Winter Games, but that does not mean that us glorious amateurs cannot be inspired to take up a new winter sport, just for the hell of it.

Here comes our next dilemma. Out of the multitude of winter sports to chose from, which one should a sports fan go for? The answer lies in riding sideways down a steep slope, strapped to a really cool board.

Snowboarding first came to prominence as a sport in the 1980s, and has been an Olympic sport since 1998. Since its introduction, it has provided hundreds of thousands of people around the world with a sense of enjoyment, freedom, and cool rebellion that few other sports can boast. Snowboarding is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle, and boy, is it worth trying.

Firstly, snowboarding gets you out and about. Not only do you get to escape the worries and stress of city life when you strap yourself into a board at the top of the slope, but you also get to enjoy the mountains more. One thing that skiers always say (and they have a lot to say about snowboarders) is: “Snowboarding is so slow.”

It may well be true that snowboarders do not reach the same lightning speed hurtling down the slopes as skiers do, but snowboarding is not about speed. In fact, as you go down a slope on a snowboard, I find that you enjoy the slope much more, and can really soak in some of the impressive mountain views on your way down.

Before I go on, I know what you are probably asking yourself at this point: Snowboarding may well be cool if you are good at it, but what about the endless falling down?

Falling is an inevitable part of snowboarding, there is no doubt about that. Nonetheless, rather than seeing it as a drawback, I believe that it is one of the sport’s main advantages.

One of the first things that snowboarding beginners learn is how to fall, and then how to get back up again. These are important skills to master early on, because they help to prevent injuries and make you more independent on the slope. Life is also about learning to recover from setbacks, and learning to get back up again after a fall is both character- and confidence-building. People who are new to snowboarding should not be scared of falling, because in the long run, falling down and making mistakes will teach you valuable lessons on how to handle certain situations and conditions. Transferrable skills, is what I like to call it.

Besides being incredibly fun, snowboarding is also a pretty good workout. A snowboarder can expect to complete at least about twenty to thirty squats per run, on a relatively small run with hard snow. Every turn that you complete, as a snowboarder, will work your core, legs, and lower abs. Taking up snowboarding is actually a wonderful way to get more from your mountain workout than you would from skiing or many other winter sports.

In addition to improving your physique, snowboarding also helps with mental wellbeing. After leaving the training slopes for the real thing, you learn to believe in yourself and in the techniques that you have learnt, even in the trickiest of situations. The self-belief that snowboarding instills within you is vital for building confidence, and there is no better feeling than completing your first steep slope (or “black run”, if you want to get specific).

Snowboarders are very relaxed people. There is very little competitiveness in the world of snowboarding, unlike skiing or other winter sports, for instance. It is a very welcoming sport, and there is no space for bigheaded egos. Professional snowboarders are also great role models for young people. Šárka Pančochová, from the Czech Republic, is one of the first openly gay sportspeople in this socially conservative nation, and her compatriot, Eva Samková, has been a wonderful ambassador for snowboard-cross throughout Europe. Snowboarders, as well as snowboarding on the whole, have not generated the same enormous economic capital as the likes of ice hockey, soccer, and football. As a sport, snowboarding remains authentic. Genuine, even. It generates a pure, unbridled joy in everyone who tries it that few other sports can match.

Although your Olympic dream may be over (like mine), why not let yourself be inspired by the Olympics to take up a new sport or hobby? It is not about winning or losing, after all, but about taking part. So why not give snowboarding a go in 2018?

Main Photo credits

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 16: Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France competes, Eva Samkova of Czech Republic takes 3rd place, Alexandra Jekova of Bulgaria competes during the Snowboarding Women’s Snowboard Cross Finals at Pheonix Snow Park on February 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Laurent Salino/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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