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Head for the Hills

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Carve a slice out of life with a day of intense snowboarding. Within a few brief minutes on the slope you'll experience a feeling of exhilaration and the intense physicality of this snowbound sport..

Carve a slice out of life with a day of intense snowboarding. Within a few brief minutes on the slope you'll experience a feeling of exhilaration and the intense physicality of this snowbound sport.

An often underestimated factor affecting your body is the high alpine altitude and subsequent lower oxygen levels. The style of riding you do and the type of terrain you choose also play a role. Whether you like to "catch air" in machine-made parks filled with jumps or drop off cliffs, cornices or wind lips in the back country, you need two things to be successful: strong, resilient knees and good balance. The impact of various obstacles puts a lot of pressure on the knee joint, and the knee is commonly injured at all levels of riding.

Another tiring aspect is the constantly bending and flexing rhythm of the knees, with the twisting of the lower back to execute smooth, controlled turns. Deeper, more powdery snow makes the legs work even harder because you must lean your weight farther back in order to prevent the board from sinking nose-first into the snow. It's smart to be in good physical and cardiovascular condition for this sport. Focus on building up the muscles around the wrists, shoulders, lower back, ankles and knees to prevent common injuries.

Equipped for Adventure

Once you've got your fitness program planned, equipment should be next on your list of things to do. Like any outdoor activity, snowboarding requires the proper equipment to not only enjoy, but also get the most out of a full season. Due to the high speed and the steep verticals involved, the right size of board, bindings, boots and even the colour of your goggle lenses are all things you shouldn't overlook.

A well-informed consumer will usually result in a happier rider. Search the Web for product information or go down to your local shop and pick the brain of someone who eats, dreams and lives to snowboard. As well as looking at different sizes, shapes and price ranges, it's a good idea to put your foot into as many pairs of boots as you can bear. Only buy boots that fit snugly, feel good and are within your price range. Because their heels and ankles are narrower, women may need to put some extra effort into finding the right fit. Some companies have separate women's styles for this reason.

Slip-Sliding Away

Snowboarding is one of the fastest-growing and most popular winter activities. In BC in particular, the number of resorts and their proximity to many towns adds to the frequency with which people hit the slopes. With both skiers and snowboarders at all skill levels, this makes the hills crowded places indeed. Snowboarders are expected to follow the "skier responsibility code," which teaches accident prevention through awareness and caution.

It's important to be responsible: board safely. Many resorts now feature snowboard instruction at various levels all season consider taking a class or two. You'll still fall, but at least when you're upright, you'll have the techniques to stay in control and carve with style. For those inevitable aches and pains, try a hot bath after every session. And if you're new to the sport, stick with it. You'll soon be on the thrilling path every snowboarder enjoys.

Ready for Liftoff

Snowboarding is hard work and you need to stay hydrated, so a small daypack is indispensable. Fill it with a sports drink or bottled water and a couple of energy bars (they provide quick sustenance on the chairlift). Add lip balm and sunscreen to your supplies and you're ready to go. Bringing it with you means less time in the lodge and more time on the
mountain perfecting your form.

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