Snowboarders far and wide are getting prepared for the upcoming winter season by dusting off the snow pants, lacing up the boots, tightening the bindings and wiping down the lenses of their favorite goggles. Many boarders all around the Southeast are expected to make their way to the High Country to visit one of the three preeminent snowsport resorts in Avery and Watauga counties.
The High Country winter sports culture has been steadily growing since the advent of the major resorts in the area. With three locations to choose from in one geographic area, it is no surprise that boarders travel all over the country to snowboard Appalachian Mountains. Beech, Sugar and Appalachian Ski Mtn. all contain the necessary conditions and characteristics to draw a good snowboarding crowd: skiable acreage, array of difficulties, terrain parks, a mile-high peak elevation, numerous shops/rentals and a supportive snowboarding youth culture to include nearby colleges and universities.
It is not shocking to know that the sport of snowboarding draws a younger crowd, and for all intent and purposes it is the newer of the winter sports. Nowadays, the sport has developed more into an all-ages type of activity, from kids learning on their preliminary snow sport, adults picking up the slab for the first time and even transitional skiers who wish to try something new. Instructors at the major destinations are more than able to train anyone of the use on a snowboard, whereas 20 years ago only ski instruction was offered.
Many new and longtime snowboarders have made a trip to the High Country in order to enjoy the admirable shredding. A successful trip begins with the planning. For those coming from out of town, lodging should be the top priority. A close rental cabin is the perfect spot for a boarder to house themselves on a mountainous journey. If price weighs heavily on the decision, there are plenty of slightly less close options in surrounding mountain towns.
The commute to the base of the mountain should be careful and timed appropriately. If one does not own their own board, rental equipment can always be found, either at the resort itself or at one of the numerous local board shops.
Weather conditions are an important aspect to any experience. Temperatures, especially on top of the mountain, can drop considerably. Elevation, wind speed, precipitation and raw temperature should heavily influence the type of clothing worn. Freezing while sitting on a chairlift, can produce a detrimental effect to a snowboarding trip. Veteran snowboarders will advise to dress in heavy layers and always have waterproof or water-resistant final jackets, pants, bibs and gloves. While boarding at night is a tremendous experience, prepare for temperatures to drop even lower after the sun has set.
If you’re new to the sport and not receiving professional instruction, then watch other boarders closely. Angling one’s feet and bending knees can impact bearing tremendously. Keeping eyes forward and balancing with one’s arms will help to keep the body steady. Do not be afraid to go down the bunny slopes over and over again to get comfortable with the stationary feet, body movement and equipment. When comfortable enough to hop on the chairlift keep one foot in the binding and one foot out. When it comes time to get off the lift, attempt to ride the board directly off the chair, then bind the other foot before going down the mountain.
Experienced skateboarders and surfers will quickly find a suitable home, as a snowboard and its mechanics are immensely similar to catching a wave with a surfboard. The equipment architecture and movement dynamics from skateboarding and surfing translate well to the snow-covered mountain. Skiers will find similarities between the two winter sports as well, in terms of the gliding, speed control and stopping.
The local resorts can accommodate every skill level for snowboarding, and should offer a great starting point for beginners and a nice challenge for experienced riders. Snowboarders will find a supportive environment, accessible board shops with knowledgeable personnel and a scenic mountain setting unique to the Eastern Seaboard.