If you're learning to snowboard, something like an abandoned indoor ski slope during a power cut would be the ideal scenario, so no one can see you flap around. Taking your first wobbly shuffles at The BRITS Snow & Music Festival lin front of thousands of supercool boarders from across the globe, as we did last week, might be described as foolhardy. Or fucking stupid.
Still, bruised coccyx aside, we lived to tell the tale, and loved every minute of it.
Here are the 10 mistakes we made that you’d do well to avoid:
1. SKI LIFTS
Before you even think about getting down the mountain, you need to work out how to get up it.
Bear in mind that button ski lifts are your enemy. They’re designed for skiers, and will take great pleasure in dragging you along the snow like a polar bear’s comfort blanket.
Mounting and unmounting button lifts isn’t really something you can practice beforehand – unless you happen to have a fully-functioning one in your back garden – but you can reduce your risk of disaster by opting for the slower lifts until you’re confident you know what you’re doing.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than making the lift grind to a halt because you’re spread-eagled like a giraffe on roller skates, clinging to the T-bar for dear life, and no one will thank you for wasting their slope-time.
2. ALL THE GEAR, NO IDEA
As Aston Villa, British Petroleum, Robert Baden Powell and Simba’s Uncle Scar well know, it’s good to be prepared. Having the right gear will make you look like you belong, and, less importantly, reduce your risk of incapacitating injury. But, whatever you do, don’t overdo it.
Not only will you risk wasting hundreds of pounds on gear you might only wear once, you’ll also face the ignominy of getting kitted up in your NASA-developed futuristic race suit and spending the entire day struggling to keep up with snowploughing four-year-olds. That head-up LCD display GPS in your £500 goggles would be a lot more useful if you’d managed to get beyond touching distance of your bag without crumpling in a snowy heap of shame for the four hundredth time today, wouldn’t it?
Photo by 416style
3. GOING TOO MINIMALIST
On the flipside, don’t try to style it out in just a T-shirt. Accomplished boarders can do this because they’re not going to keep falling over. You, on the other hand, will be going down more frequently than Greek share prices. If the only thing protecting you is a neon pink ‘Rock off, RAVE ON’ T-shirt, you’re going to get cold, wet, and sad. So sad.
4. GET STRAPPED IN
This is easy for skiers; they just press their boots down, wait for the ‘click’, and away they go. As a boarder, you need to make doubly sure that your bindings are secure before you set off. These are all that connects you to your board, and your chances of survival are greatly improved if you remain as a pair. Snowboards are designed to travel down snowy mountains with grace and panache. Humans going down snowy mountains unaided look like this:
Finally, after days of perseverance, bruising, and perhaps a few sneaky tears when no one else was looking, you’ve mastered it. You’re a snowboarder! The nursery slope is your bitch! You’re Shaun-fucking-White! Black run, here we come! “Hi… owww… yes, is that Mountain Rescue? Argh…” etc.
Photo by Global X
6. COMPARING YOURSELF TO JUNIOR SCHOOL CHILDREN
Watching a spotty 13-year-old snowboarding sensation nail a triple somersault and expecting to be able to reproduce it will leave you feeling like a middle-aged dad struggling to comprehend his kid’s explanations of Bebo, BBM and Justin Bieber. Take solace in the fact that they’ll be forced to retire aged 19 and spend the rest of their days serving burgers with a side dish of ‘I’d have been a millionaire if it weren’t for that knee injury’ sob story.
7. ENTERING THE CAFÉ
Misjudging your approach to the mountain café and wiping out the countless sets of skis resting outside is akin to soiling yourself, loudly, at a hoity-toity art exhibition. You’ll feel physical and emotional pain, and everyone there will hate you forever.
8. USING WORDS LIKE ‘GNARLY’
See also: ‘dope’, ‘rad’ and ‘sick’. Unless you regularly use these words in your everyday life back home (and if you do, you should probably lay off the green), don’t use them just because you’ve got a slab of wood strapped to your feet. You’ll come across like Prince Charles trying to be ‘down’ in The Bronx.
9. TAKING IT TOO SERIOUSLY
If you went to a music festival, and one of your mates was all, “No, I don’t want a cider, I’m not drinking, I’m here for the music, and intoxicants will only serve to dilute my enjoyment of Coldplay’s set”, you’d think they were a bit of a bell-end. The same goes for snowboarding holidays. Sure, you’ve paid a lot of money to go somewhere that’s covered in snow, so it’d be a shame to miss it all while nursing a hangover every day, but you’re mainly there for the good times.
If you must insist on being first on the slopes, just have a few drinks anyway and rely on the fresh mountain air to bring you back to life.
10. NOT EATING ENOUGH
Here’s a fact for free: you can burn over 1,000 calories per hour snowboarding. That means, in an average day on the slopes, you could burn more calories than you would have done running a marathon.
Make sure you eat a hearty breakfast, drink lots of fluid and eat regularly throughout the day. Having to be wrapped in tinfoil and airlifted to hospital because a friendly local found you in their garden shivering and hallucinating about techno-beavers is not the ideal way to end your holiday.
Photo by North West Air Ambulance
Think you're ready? Get yourself along to The BRITS next year, to see the best of British talent in action, soundtracked by artists like DJ Yoda and Dr Meaker. Keep an eye on The BRITS website for details. FHM will be there again, if we can help it.