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A few tips will make the difference for first-time skiers
Jimbo Patton showcases his brand new snowboard, a Ride Highlife Ultra Light Snowboard. - photo by Brooke Borba

Winter is just around the corner, and many holiday vacationers plan to head to the ski slopes with their family and friends. But for those who are unfamiliar with riding, there are a few tips to consider.

Turlock snow sport outfitter Denis Sondeno of Sunsports in Turlock is no stranger to the slopes, or working with people who have never tried their hand at the sport. Sondeno, who also acts as the director of the Society for the Handicapped Children and Adult’s Ski Program, has been skiing for 40 years, and believes that his considerations will be the difference between a pleasurable outing, or an awful vacation.

His first concern focuses on garments. “Cotton kills,” Sondeno said. “If you wear cotton, it will absorb all the water and you will freeze to death. Get at least a good pair of pants that is waterproof, and maybe insulated. A good pair of pants is essential. Long underwear would also be the best way to go.”

If this is your party’s first trip, or you are unsure if you want to spend the money on something you may never do again in your lifetime, Sondeno suggests a few brands, or replacement shells to protect yourself from the outside elements, which are always subject to change.

“So Spyder, you know, is a good high-end ski brand. It might be a little bit overkill if you start out skiing. North Face is always a good brand, but not necessarily what you need to start out with. If you wear something that is just a shell and a sweatshirt or sweater, or fleece, then you could switch things around in the day as it gets colder or warmer,” Sondeno said.

A few must-haves, according to Sondeno, are goggles, hats, gloves, and sunscreen. No matter how hot or cold the temperature is, these four necessities are to be worn at all times during a run.

Safety is also one of Sondeno’s key concerns, especially when it comes to skiing or boarding for the first time. Instead of buying your own board or skis prior to ridding, Sondeno suggests renting equipment and taking advantage of training lessons.

“If you take a lesson, you will learn correctly. Then you can take off and go on your own and be fairly proficient by the end of the day. If you don’t, it will take you half a day to get down a run, and you can get some bad habits,” he said.

In order to break these bad habits, Sondeno believes that first time riders, especially children, should be taught how to ski prior to learning to snowboard.

“Kids stand a certain way naturally, and that is the way they ski. Learning to snowboard is quick and simple if you learn how to ski. I always suggest skiing first,” he said.

Even if you are quick to follow all of Sondeno’s precautions, trouble may still find you. One rule that remains essential for every run is to always take another person with you.

“Don’t go by yourself. Ski with a buddy. Not that they are going to know any first aid, but if you get stuck in a tree well some place, they can get you out or go get someone to help. If you are on your own, you don’t have any options,” he said.

Sondeno urges the public to take responsibility for their actions, and believes that this sport is versatile for just about anyone, no matter their abilities.

Regular rental gear and utilities are available at Sunsports and most local sporting good stores that carry skis and snowboards.

209 reporter