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SNOWBOARD: Inspired by Scotty James’ snowboard halfpipe bronze medal? Want to try out some of the slopestyle or Big Air tricks thrown by Australia’s amazing female riders Tess Coady and Jess Rich?

We spoke to some of the Australian Team to give you a heads up on how to get started.

Snowboarding was introduced to the Winter Olympic Games lineup at Nagano in 1998 and has been an incredibly popular inclusion among athletes and spectators alike.

With incredible performances at the 2018 PyeongChang Games by Australian athletes in halfpipe, Big Air and snowboard cross, more and more Aussies are eager to try their hand – and balance – at the sport.

Big Air and slopestyle rider Jess Rich has provided some insight about how to get started in snowboarding, and how to progress from weekend enthusiast to competitive athlete.

Start young

“The best way – if you want to start young – is through entry-level programs at ski resorts,” Rich said.

Most mountain resorts will have a variety of courses from beginner right through to elite. Some run for a day, others a week or even a season.

Some resorts even have winter sports clubs which are great for younger kids to join; they can learn the basics while making lots of new friends at training.

And always remember the key equipment.

“You must wear a helmet, that’s really important for anyone from beginners to professionals,” Rich said.

Branch out

If you can’t always be in the snow, or following winter around the world as the professional snowboarders do, try your hand at similar, balance oriented sports.

“You want to try anything that promotes good balance. Boardsports such as skateboarding or surfing are certainly going to help,” Rich said.

Other skills to work on, are flexibility, coordination, and air awareness so activities such as gymnastics, dance and yoga will also translate well.

“Definitely the easiest option would be working with a coach or a program to build your skills, and just having people around you who are aware of the steps you need to take to get into it,” she added. 

Step it up

Ready to take your snowboarding to the next level?

“Start entering local events at your local mountain,” Rich said.

For beginners and younger riders, there are often ‘rail jams’ or a ‘free ride’ series at resorts and mountains where they can start to test their skills and understand the competitive environment.

Speak to the development program managers at the local ski mountains to find out more about upcoming events for amateurs.

Other than that, the best thing to do is spend as much time on the snow as possible.

“Nothing gets you strong for snowboarding like snowboarding, you can’t directly mimic what you get. You do want to spend as much time on snow as you can,” Rich said.

Pump it up

Once you reach the stage of regular competition, your coach or team might suggest you add weights and strength training to your routine.

“Once you’re old enough to do proper strength training, that’s really important too,” she said.

“Building strong legs, a good core and glute strength are key, so it’s good to working with someone in the gym to develop that power and those muscles.”

Flexibility is also a huge part of snowboarding, and it’s important that you can move through the tricks without straining anything.

Therefore, the final ingredient is rest and recovery.

“And above all, make sure that you’re always having fun,” Rich concluded.

Candice Keller 

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