How to Get Ready for Opening Day of the Snowboard SeasonPublished on 03/16/2023 · 11 min readCountdown to a smooth first day on the snow with advice on how to prepare from Curated Expert Skye F.
Photo by Anatoliy Gleb
As the temperatures start to drop and parts of the country are getting their first snowstorms of the season, resorts are starting to drop hints at their opening dates. Some are already popping up around the country as the first resorts open for the year!
Wherever you are in the country, we’re getting closer by the day. I know firsthand that there is nothing worse than scrambling to get your ducks in a row the night before (or even the morning of) your first trip back on snow. Trying to round up all your gear from last season, purchasing your season pass, and getting organized enough to get out there for the first chair can be a total pain in the you-know-what if you haven’t prepped!
Here are some of my tips for getting the best savings and having a smooth morning on your first day back on snow, whether you are a first-time rider or you’re a seasoned vet.
2-3 Months Pre-Season
Get your body ready!
Starting out your season, your body is most likely going to be in a different shape than it was at the end of last season. To make the most out of the season and avoid any injuries, try to prepare your body with some snowboarding or skiing-related workouts as early as you can instead of waiting until late November. Your body will not be the same as it was when you finished the season in April. You'll want to maintain muscle strength and conditioning so that you are in top shape for opening day and having a workout routine in place is key to achieving this goal.
Here are some of my favorite movements to get my body woken up and ready for that first time snowboarding of the year. These six workouts focus on strengthening your core muscles, legs, arms, and increasing endurance and flexibility. The last thing you want is to be unable to stay out for a full day due to being sore and tired, so try to prep your body for the day!
- Squats: Squats are an ESSENTIAL part of any snowboarding exercise training plan. Squats will target your hips, hamstrings, back, and quads. The stronger your squat is, the easier it will be to get on and off the chairlift, and riding from first chair to last lap. I like to start with 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Lunges: Lunges are a crucial exercise for getting your lower body in shape for the riding season. Lunges focus on the glutes, thighs, and most importantly, balance! For a more advanced move, try reverse lunges and squat jumps. Start with 2 sets of 15 and build up as you go.
- Pushups: Another classic, tried and true upper body workout that will help you out immensely throughout the season, pushups are going to strengthen your shoulders and triceps. If you’re feeling up for it, go until failure with these!
- Planking: Having core strength is crucial for having good balance and stamina for a whole day of riding. Try starting at 20 seconds, and build up in intervals from 10 as you go. Planking will help strengthen your core, obliques, and other abdominals which in turn will make twisting easier and improve your stability. Other exercises include side planks and Russian twists.
- Burpees: A blast of cardio and strength building, burpees are an intense workout- but they’re great for training for snowboarding. Try starting with 3 sets of 10.
- Wall Sits: Find a wall and lean up against it, bending your legs about 90 degrees (if you can!). This exercise targets the glutes, quads, and calves. Try to hold for 30 seconds, then build from there.
- Calf Raises: Calf raises will help you keep the muscles supporting your ankles and the bottom half of your knees. Throughout the day, lots of tension and pressure is put on the calves resulting in soreness on the hill—so keeping your calves in shape is super important
It's also worth noting that other board sports like surfing and skateboarding can be great for getting that "board feel" without snow.
For better endurance, look into bike riding, running (outdoors or on the treadmill), and HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training workouts). Doing some kind of cardio is crucial to reducing fatigue and increasing the efficiency at which your heart pumps oxygen throughout the body.
Note: These exercises are solely based on my personal preference and experience with pre-season training to make sure I'm not too sore the next day after riding my first day back. Exercise is not without its risks and this or any other exercise program may result in injury. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout, you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a medical professional. These workouts may not be appropriate for every skill level, so use your best judgment.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
While planning your next mountain getaway be sure to check the resort's calendar to see what is going on throughout the season. Many resorts have also been using the off-season to build new terrain. Familiarize yourself with any newly finished construction projects, and with ones that are still ongoing. New and closed features or terrain can impact the experience you have on your next trip to the slopes.
If you know you'll need lodging accommodations for your winter escape, it would be a good idea to book them well in advance. Resort websites and services like Airbnb and VRBO are all great options for finding a place to stay. Most rentals are pretty flexible, so whether you're looking to do a Friday to Monday trip, a weekend, or a full week, there is something for everyone. Booking ahead also helps to guarantee availability, maximum options to choose from, and generally better prices. Get searching and booking before the season starts so you know you have that perfect home locked!
2-4 Weeks Pre-Season
Get those tickets or season passes!
Following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, operations at ski resorts might be different than they were before. Many resorts are now operating on an advanced reservation system, meaning same-day tickets may not be offered at the resort you’re headed to. As far in advance as possible, do your research on your resort's guidelines and book your lift tickets in advance! You are also more likely to get the best discounts on a season pass or lift tickets the earlier you book.
If you are a pass-holder, check out your local resort's website and see how they are delivering passes this year. Many are opting to mail them instead of having in-person pick-ups, so make sure your address and contact information is still accurate! If you belong to the Ikon or Epic passes then be sure to check their websites and your online account with them as well for further details (Logging into your Epic account isn't just for checking out how many Epic mountain rewards you've earned!). Many resort websites will also offer a live chat feature through which you can ask staff general questions about conditions, rentals, lodging, etc.
If you are an Ikon or Epic pass holder, they ARE mailing their passes so keep an eye out for them! Wherever you end up planning to ski or ride, be sure to check out that resort’s websites so that you aren’t hit with any curveballs right before your trip.
If you are a college student, most resorts offer a college pass option. In order to be eligible for this pass, you often need proof of enrollment from your college or university. Again, this will vary from resort to resort, but make sure you check out your mountain’s requirements and bring that with you. Oftentimes, it is a notarized transcript from the previous semester of school. Do your research and be prepared!
If you need to book a ski lesson or snowboard lesson, also be sure to check out the snow sports schools and clinics in advance. There are different guidelines for each resort, but any beginner snowboarders or beginner skiers who need a first lesson, make sure to call and make your reservations. My home resort, Sunday River in Maine, is offering private lessons and clinics for families so that siblings and parents can all stick together and not have different coaches. Check out your options and plan in advance!
1-2 Weeks Pre-Season
Get your gear squared away!
Make sure you have all the right gear—and know where it is! In a perfect world, at the end of last season, you washed all your gear, matched up your ski socks and gloves, and tucked everything neatly away into space until this year. However, that’s likely not the case for most of us! Do yourself a big favor and dig out your gear BEFORE the eve of your first day back on the mountain. The last thing you want to do is be scrambling for a lost mitten or pair of goggles the night before. Make sure everything still fits, is comfortable, and is all in one place!
If you don’t own gear, be sure to look into local rental shops in the area and make sure you can get any rental gear you need. Making rental reservations ahead of time is usually cheaper than a day rental at the mountain and also helps with a smooth transaction when you arrive at the shop for in-store fulfillment.
Here’s a handy checklist to run through before your first day and make sure you have the proper equipment:
- Gear (Boots, Bindings, Board/Skis)
- Ski Gloves or Mittens
- Snow Pants
- Thermal Top and Bottom
- Pair of Socks
Wax your board!
You can either drop your board off at a local shop to get it waxed and checked out for any damages that need to be repaired, or you can do it yourself. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you get this done the week before your first day back. Many local ski shops will take your gear on a first-come, first-serve basis, so they will likely be pretty busy at the start of the season. The earlier you can get this step completed, the better! Call your ski shop or drop in as early as you can with your gear to make sure they can get your gear taken care of before your first day back.
One Day to One Night Pre-Season
The anticipation of opening day, for many, is akin to Christmas Eve. The energy is high, the expectations are high, and there is joy and excitement all around. There are lots of things you can do to get the stoke levels high in the days leading up to your first day out!
- Make a playlist! Whether you listen to tunes while you’re riding or not, having a killer playlist to put on while you’re driving to your mountain and booting up at the car is a surefire way to get pumped for the day ahead!
- Plan to meet up with your crew! While of course there are “no friends on a pow day,” opening day might be a little different! There’s nothing better than getting the crew back together for your first day back, reliving last season’s memories, and making new ones.
Up your tailgate game!
Covid-19 is still impacting the food and dining scene at resorts across the world—so if you prefer to avoid the possibility of exposure in a dining setting, go all out with a tailgate and enjoy your lunch break safely outdoors. Pack a speaker, tons of snacks, and your favorite libations, and chances are you’ll be having 10 times more fun in your car than you would be in the dining halls. (As an added bonus, you’re saving money).
Join the party!
While many resorts have made procedural changes due to Covid-19, there are still plenty that want you to have as much fun as possible! This includes outdoor events with live music, small group setting experiences sponsored by community partners, and lots of food promos! Don't forget to do a ritual snow dance to encourage the snow gods to bless you with fresh snow!
While these steps will ensure a smooth start to your first day back, even if you don’t get yourself in the best shape or don’t have time to wax your board...don’t stress. Remember that your season is just beginning, and you have time to work out all those early season kinks.
The main thing is to have fun and enjoy the start of what is hopefully an incredible season! If you need to get geared up to hit the slopes, reach out to a Snowboarding Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice and recommendations. Happy trails!