Trying out snow sports such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, or snowboarding may appear intimidating to a newcomer, especially if you do not already know someone who is familiar with the sport. What does one wear?, What equipment is needed?, Where do you go? are all common questions. Your local ski club is certain to be a great asset for anyone interested in trying out a snow sport for the first time. To help get you started, some basic information is provided here, yet a number of resources already exist on the web. The Learn & Improve section of skiandsnowboardmonth.org is a good place to start. Also, your local ski and snowboard resort typically has a web page devoted to your first visit, which will also provide you with locality specific information. For local Cleveland, OH resources, check out the Boston Mills / Brandywine information page for first-time visit information on down-hill skiing/snowboarding. For further information on getting started, try the "Guide to Snowboarding" or the "Guide to Alpine Skiing" pages, or of course try talking with our club members at any regular ski club meeting.
If this is your first time to the slopes, you probably do not have a complete set of specialized snow gear to help face the elements. Chances are though, that you may have access to items necessary to keep you warm and dry. To help save you money, avoid going out and buying lots of gear until you know what you really need. First try to borrow and beg for missing items from friends or fellow ski club members. In addition, many ski resorts will rent all the clothing you need to keep warm while on the slopes. When selecting clothing from your current collection, do your best to avoid anything cotton, as it does not dry well and will not keep you warm when wet. Also, keep in mind that snow sports are an active sport, and the human body is very effective at generating heat. Layered clothing is essential to maintain your body temperature while in the snow. For cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, keep in mind that the activity is good cardio workout (think of easy jogging outside). It is an extremely common mistake for beginners to wear too many layers and overheat. For more information, try the "what to wear" section of the ski and snowboard month page.
If it is your first time to the slopes, be sure to look for a beginners package. Most ski resorts offer a beginners package for skiing or snowboarding, which typically includes gear rental, ski/snowboard lesson, and a beginners lift pass. A beginners lift package typically saves you money. If you have been to the slopes before and do not need a lesson, look for the beginners lift pass option, which in addition to being less expensive, also helps to keep you off of advanced terrain, which is not suitable for a beginner. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the trail rating system prior to jumping on your first chair lift. In general, for beginners, look for the green circles and you are good to go.
There are many different types of snow sport equipment, depending on the intended use. Not to worry though, as resorts and local rental shops rent all the necessary equipment to spend a day on the slopes. Typically one just provides some basic information regarding height/weight and the rental shop will get you the proper gear. Definitely try to rent equipment as long as you can, trying out different brands, types, sizes, styles etc. in different snow conditions to get a good idea of what gear fits your own specific needs and intended use. For example, equipment that is intended for an advanced skier/boarder will be difficult to effectively use if you are a beginner. In addition, gear which is designed to be used in deep powder will typically not perform as well on groomed trails. Once you become comfortable with a wide range of equipment in different snow conditions, evaluate your expected snow sport habits and then consider purchasing the proper equipment for your intended use.