Snowboard Fever in Lapland
I learned downhill skiing before I was old enough to even remember learning it. By the time I was 6 years old, which was back in 1997, skiing had become boring to me because it offered me no challenges. Of course when you are a kid complaining is like second nature, so I voiced my boredom to my father who then in return bought me a plastic red snowboard for Christmas, the type they sell for children even today. Funnily enough my brothers were really keen on teaching me how to snowboard even though they had no idea how to do it. I guess getting the chance to strap me to a plastic board and pushing me down the kiddie slope at Ounasvaara ski center to watch me fall over and over again gave them some sort of brotherly pride I can never understand.
Years passed and my excitement towards snowboarding declined because I never really learnt how to do it properly and if you are not doing it right, snowboarding is not that fun; mostly just falling down and trying to get back up again. The idea to start snowboarding again actually was not my idea at all, it was my father’s. He bought me a K2 snowboard specially designed for women, meaning it is a little lighter and easier to control, and urged me to give snowboarding another try. The snowboard in question is still my loyal companion and I do not think I will ever have the heart to part with it.
The Essential Equipment of Snowboarding
The most obvious pieces of equipment for a snowboarder are the board, boots and binding straps. Most sport stores in Finland, offer readymade packages of the aforementioned equipment, however you can also get them separately. Everything that comes after is optional, but I highly recommend a proper helmet to keep your head safe and warm outerwear most preferably with a “snow lock”, an elastic band that keeps the snow outside of your jacket when you take a tumble. Having a proper pair of thick gloves is important as they keep your hands warm and provide some cover in case of a fall; they are bound to happen no matter how good you are. Personally I also use a tube scarf to protect my face in case of cold weather or heavy snow fall; it makes breathing easier when you want to ride down the slope in a faster speed.
Ounasvaara Ski Center
The best place to snowboard is Ounasvaara Ski Center which is approximately 3 kilometers away from the city center of Rovaniemi. The ski center has been around as long as I can remember, but it has grown in size ever since I was little. Currently the ski center has 10 different slopes, for example a street style slope for all the adrenaline enthusiasts, a beginner’s slope for an easier start and a slalom slope for more advanced downhill skiers and snowboarders. There are also other winter sport activities available at the ski center such as sledging, ski jumping or cross-country skiing.
Even though Ounasvaara is small compared to the bigger ski centers around Lapland it is the one most conveniently located and offers a better opportunity for learning than any other place because of its location. The people living in Rovaniemi can easily access the ski center on a daily basis without the hassle of driving for hours to reach a destination and then driving back in the evening when you cannot even feel your legs anymore.
How to Snowboard
Ounasvaara Ski Center offers snowboarding lessons with a teacher, but as a self-taught snowboarder I do not think it is impossible to learn it on your own, just means that you will probably take a few more hits before getting it right. Also the fact that the internet is full of educational material gives the perfect base for learning the basics and after that it is about repetition and getting the experience on the slope. Check out this video which has a lot of good information that you want to take with you when you hop on the board for the first time.
That is about it for me and I thank you for your attention, dear reader! I hope you will fall in love with snowboarding as hard as I did, because it truly is the best winter activity I can think of; plus it makes you so much cooler in the eyes of your friends. Cheers!