Christian Voggenberger

Experiment: Snowboarding instead of skiing – two become one!

For years I spent the winters with my skis on the slopes. In all weather conditions, snow conditions and at different times of the year. Classic skiers are known to be annoyed by all kinds of other piste users, but in my case especially by snowboarders: They sit in the middle of the piste, when you are out and about with them they take forever to put on their board and they don't go really fast. So what is the attraction of this sport? After almost 25 years of skiing only, I figured I just had to try it and find out: What makes one board so interesting for many compared to two skis?

I decided to start my experiment in Filzmoos. A small ski area with short, flat slopes that are less crowded, especially at the end of the season. I rent a snowboard from a local sports shop. The staff is extremely friendly, gives me the shoes and board and asks if I have snowboarding experience. I say no and get incredulous looks. My companion (only a part-time snowboarder with not that much experience) and I decided to skip the beginner lift and go straight to the 4-seater chairlift. "Somehow we'll get down" is our motto. After a few tips on how to steer with the back foot – imagine you're carrying a crate of beer and don't lean back, but always lean forward – I feel well prepared. Getting on the board is quick and even the first few meters on flat terrain work reasonably well.

Then I really dare to hit the slopes: I drag myself down the first meters almost more lying down than boarding and a little overwhelmed by the speed. After every fall (there were a lot!) I recall the tips I had previously learned. More and more often I manage one or two turns in a row before I fall back into the snow. After about 20 minutes and countless other falls and rollovers, we arrive back at the valley station. To be honest, I'm about to end the whole snowboarding-tryout and declare the experiment a failure. But my companion persuaded me to try it again. In fact, it works much better the second time trying. The number of falls has decreased massively, the sequence of movements seems to be imprinted in my brain and so I am able to cover longer and longer distances without falling. The motivation is there and I board down the slope more times.

The last ride is my special highlight: I actually board the entire slope from the 4-seater chairlift down to the valley without sitting down and without falling or rolling over. After this sense of achievement, I decide to return the snowboard and end my first snowboarding day with a well-deserved lunch.

But what are the appeals of snowboarding? When the piste is not that good (especially in spring or when there is fresh snow) it is a lot more comfortable to ride down the piste with the board. It's also a cool challenge to try something new. So for everyone who wants to dare something, snowboarding is a welcome change. I know that this will definitely not be the last time I've been snowboarding.

In order to make your start as easy as possible and to have as much fun as possible, you should prepare well, rent good equipment and ideally learn the technique from an expert or experienced snowboarder. Also, don't forget your protective gear for your safety. You fall a lot, especially at the beginning, and I was very happy with my helmet and my back protector.

To all the long-time skiers out there: Try something new and dare to hit the slopes with the board instead of skis!

Christian Voggenberger

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