14
Jan
2015
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Skiing & Riding

Learning to Snowboard

When asked about the most important thing you need if you want to learn to snowboard, instructor Beth McLam said the answer is pretty simple.

"It's a good attitude. If you want to learn and have a good attitude and are motivated to learn, then you will," Beth said, while we chatted in between lessons she was giving at Dollar Mountain. "Usually, it's attitude that brings people through."

This makes a lot of sense, since attitude can be a lot easier to control than a snowboard the first time you strap into one. But the great thing about the sport is that, ultimately, it's isn't about athleticism or age, or whether you ride goofy or regular, or can tell the difference between a "McTwist," and a "Ollie." It's about simply having fun.

"If you really want to learn to snowboard you can, and it helps if you remember that you're out there to have fun, " said Beth, who grew up in fairly large farming family in nearby Fairfield and switched from skiing to snowboarding when she was in middle school.

In just her second year as a snowboard instructor, Beth has quickly earned an impressive reputation as a teacher. Her patience and positivity, as well as her passion for boarding, are infectious and help her connect with newbies to the sport.

On what became a delightful, bluebird sky morning on snow-packed Dollar Mountain recently, I spent some time following Beth around as she gave a group lesson to three teenagers.

All three (15 year-old Madi from Boise, 13 year-old Sophie and her friend Samantha, from here in Sun Valley) said Beth was "great" and, interestingly enough, that they'd all become interested in the snowboarding after recently getting into longboard skateboarding. They also said they'd been inspired by Idaho's own Olympic gold medal winning snowboarder, Kaitlyn Farrington.

"It's pretty fun," said Samantha, who was celebrating her lucky 13th birthday that weekend by learning to snowboard. "Beth is a good motivator."
           

While Beth said she really enjoys teaching teenagers, because of their usual natural athleticism and eagerness to learn, she has had success instructing everyone from 5 to 50 year-olds.

"I love watching the light turn on for people when they get it. That's how I know I'm a teacher," Beth said with a big smile. She then passed along some tips for learning to snowboard.

-The first thing you to do is learn how to "skate," or move the board around with one foot unstrapped. "You do a lot of moving around with one foot on the board, so it helps to become comfortable with that," Beth advised.

-It's important to stand on the board correctly. You don't want to have too much weight on one foot or the other, or to be leaning over your toes or heals. "Your shoulders should be in line with the board and pressure should be equal on both feet, " Beth said, explaining that the sensation of having both feet strapped into a snowboard can be scary at first, so it's a good idea to practice standing in the board and finding your balance.

-It helps to understand that the edges are how you control the snowboard. "When you stand flat on a snowboard it goes all over the place, when you tip it on edge you can slow it down and have some control," she said.

-Practice slide slipping (preferably on the Magic Carpet). "Once you can figure out how to control the snowboard, then we can go up on the lift," she said.

-Initiate turns with your front foot. Beth said people—especially those who've tried snowboarding before—often try to turn with pressure from their back foot, which can throw off balance.

-Always look where you're going, with your head, not by turning your whole body. "It's very important to look both uphill and downhill before you start riding," she strongly advised.

-Have fun! You're the only one on the board, so the only thing that's important is how you feel and what you're doing.  As Beth said, "Only you can have fun for you!"


12
Jan
2015

Skiing & Riding

Banking on Baldy

On Saturday, the action on Bald Mountain was on Lower Cozy during the fourth annual Baldy Banked Slalom. Dozens of racers of all ages gathered on the Warm Springs side...

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09
Jan
2015

Dining

Eating Well

If there's one thing we can all appreciate, especially if we've been skiing, snowboarding or even fishing, it's a good meal.  If the meal is a...

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07
Jan
2015

Summer

A Beautiful Start to the Year

During this first full week of a brand new year, many people's thoughts are on self-improvement. While much of the focus is on resolutions like losing weight, exercise and...

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05
Jan
2015

Winter

New Year, New You

The holiday season can be a decadent one, especially in Sun Valley where there is something fun to do from sunup to well past sundown throughout the celebratory season. ...

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Favorite Holiday Traditions Old and New


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The holidays in Sun Valley are unique. From the snow-covered peaks (and ski runs!) that surround the Wood River Valley, to the old-fashioned charm of the Sun Valley Village and the decidedly European feel of the Resort, Christmas in Sun Valley is straight out of a beloved picture book. I have spent more than 30 Christmases in Sun Valley and while I certainly appreciate all that the Resort does to keep current (our amazing snowmaking and grooming, the gorgeous Lodge remodel, The Spa, and new