Stoked and steezy: What it's like to try snowboarding for the first time

‘Am I “stoked” when something goes well,’I ask my snowboarding friend, ‘or is that a Noughties term?’

I’m keen to get some of the parlance down before my ‘learn to snowboard in a week’ adventure in Morzine and Avoriaz in France. ‘Stoked is forever,’ he says, chuckling.

I like snow and mountains and skiing but snowboarding has never appealed. There are connotations, real or imagined, of it being ‘cool’ — a dude-hued pretence that acts as a barrier to people like me who just aren’t.

Skiing, by comparison, has always seemed to welcome geeks, grandmas and Gabets — those who wish merely to fall down a slope with a modicum of grace before focusing on the more important matter of lunch.

No baggy clothes, no American slang — ‘steezy’ for ‘stylish,’ ‘sick pow’ for ‘good-quality, powdery snow’ — just skiing.

There is something snowboarders talk about, however, that I am drawn to. The Bug. You know, like the ‘travel bug’: ‘Once you’ve done it…’ So when Mint Snowboarding invite me to learn, it’s time to give it a go. I want to be exposed to said Bug, to decipher whether boarding is any more contagious than using poles and one more piece of ply.

Day one. Never in the history of ever has ‘all the gear and no idea’ been so squarely applicable. But my God, I look good. Steezy, you might say. That is, right up until I actually clip in — then any gains are gone.

Being accustomed to the movement and mechanics of two skis, there is something alien about being fixed to a single fat one, always sort of facing sideways and, for me, frequently on your bum.

My group’s instructor is patient and pleasant (all Mint’s instructors carry the highest qualification), which helps with my increasingly decreasing composure.

The one mercy of a mountain repeatedly visiting pain on your derrière is that there really isn’t very much time to think about how uncool you are.

Day two sees some small gains but day three is ‘light-bulb day’. I ‘connect the turns’, albeit rather inelegantly, for the first time. How deeply emotional this is — from despair to a double dump of dopamine, all in the time it takes to move your weight from heel to toe.

In all, the entire Mint contingent numbers around 60 boarders. By day, we’re split into small ability-dictated groups. At night, in the chalet, we’re more numerous. It is here that I learn the nature of the ‘snowboarder’.

They’re a modest, friendly lot. Put it this way, I am the only one chuntering silly American catchphrases. The chalet (run by Treeline Chalets) is notable for its food: restaurant-quality dishes, decent wine, even a cheese course.

On the fourth day, I am moved up a group. By now I am making wide S shapes down the slope and it begins to feel special — speedy sliding, maximum mindfulness.

It is as if I am somehow cheating nature — a taste of a day in the life of a god. ‘Skiing is power,’ says one of my group. ‘Snowboarding is flow.’

The mountains, in all their splendour, do their bit to amp my appreciation. It helps, too, that Morzine and neighbouring Avoriaz are considered Europe’s boarding HQ.

‘In most resorts,’ says one instructor, ‘snowboarding is an afterthought.’ Here, the minority are shown equal opportunity with parks and pipes.

Access is another major draw — Morzine is the capital of the cross-border Portes du Soleil area, which comprises 200-plus lifts and 650km of piste. On the last day I descend one of them all on my own.

Do I get the bug? Difficult to tell but I’m stoked to say it’s sick.

Weeklong snowboard camps including chalet accommodation, meals and lessons from £931pp,

Easyjet flies from Luton to Geneva from £43 return, For more, visit

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