Up North: Tips on starting snowboarding at any age

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Now that winter is here to stay, tis the season to hit the slopes.

Spirit Mountain’s Action Sports Manager Jake Olson teaches kids as young as two how to snowboard. He frequently sees toddlers even younger on the slopes.

“People get one year olds out here starting to ski and snowboard,” said Olson.

Although many start young, snowboarding can be learned at any age.

“We have a whole age range, mainly kids, families coming on weekends, and then after school programs, that kind of stuff,” Olson explained. “But we have the adults that just totally want to get out here. Maybe they want to try it with their kids and take a family lesson.”

Snowboard lessons are helpful not just for beginners, but also for those who are a bit rusty. While some struggle at first, others pick it up more easily.

“It really depends on the individual. If you have other experiences, like maybe surfing or skateboarding, that kind of thing, they usually pick it up pretty quickly,” explained Olson. “They already have that balance point. But some people need a couple of lessons to get over to the big hill. So it depends on the individual.”

Starting on the main slope is not recommended for beginners, but there are other options.

“Spirit’s really cool because we do have this super small hill that you can start on, and we have a really solid bunny hill as well with our magic carpet,” said Olson. “So you don’t have to worry about the lift access at all, at least in the beginning here. Really easy to get to the top of the hill and practice those fundamentals. And then when you’re ready to head to the big hill, we have absolutely incredible views of the city of Duluth, Lake Superior down there, all the bridges and such. So it’s a really beautiful area.

One key fundamental while snowboarding is watching your edges.

“Once you start leaning down the hill, you’re not in control,” Olson explained. “Maybe you’re spinning, doing 360s. It’s really easy to catch that edge and kind of just go over.

Another tip is if you find yourself going too fast and unable to stop yourself, just sit down.

“I would recommend just trying to get to the ground as softly as possible, making sure you’re not running into any people out here or running into trees,” Olson said. “Just trying to get to the ground, get your butt on the ground. Get your hands on the ground and slow yourself down.”

Snowboarding can be difficult to learn, but practicing on a small slope first can help you get the basics down and still have a great time.

“It can be intimidating, especially when you look out and you see a huge hill,” Olson explained. “Start slow. Start on our awesome little bunny hill here. Very gradual, nothing to be scared of at all really. Just starting slow, getting those fundamentals down. Trusting your edges of your snowboard. That’s how you’re going to stay in control. Lastly, just working on the very base level on the really tiny hill. Get those fundamentals down, and you can take those fundamentals with you to the big hill.”