The first flakes have fallen, and trails are opening up. You’ve been putting up with warm weather long enough; it’s time to get ready to snowboard.

Here are a few things that you should think about prior to stepping onto your board.

“Lots of people don’t participate in outdoor activities in the winter, so they don’t like winter. Being comfortable outdoors, and having fun, makes winter enjoyable,” said Jeremy Petrocelli of BackWoods Snowboards. One of the biggest parts of being comfortable is having the right clothing, equipment and outlook.

Mentally start to prepare for the season long before you expect to be out on a hill. Check out some DVDs about snowboarding with great scenery, fantastic maneuvers and inspiring athletes to get you psyched for the season. Along with getting your mind set, start to get your body attuned to the idea as well.

Stretching exercises are highly recommended to enjoy the sport of snowboarding during and after your runs. A quad stretch, where you balance on one foot while reaching back and pulling up on your raised foot, is a great way to start.

Choosing the right equipment for your skill level is also important to make sure you enjoy your boarding experience. You don’t want to work any harder than you have to and having properly fitted boots and a board the right length make a big difference. One general rule for board length is to have the board come to just under your chin when you stand it up. Beginner boards are softer and more forgiving, usually with more shape to them to assist in your turns. It’s all about enjoying the day, so if your equipment is right, you’ll have a much better experience.

Clothing should feature warmth, flexibility and a degree of waterproof. Beginners will find that they are sitting on the snow more to buckle up and adjust, so should plan their clothing to keep those regions dry. Think safety. Helmets are not required by the mountains, but are highly recommended. Wrist guards are also a great idea, especially for beginners.

Once you get yourself ready, it’s time to do the same for your equipment. Tune-ups are important for maintaining the edges and contact surfaces of your board. Waxing, scraping and sharpening are some of the basics you should become familiar with. Doing it yourself helps with your own psychological bonding with your equipment, but make sure you have somebody show you the ropes and for major tune-ups, take it to a pro.

Inspect your bindings to make sure there aren’t any damaged areas from last season.

Whether you’re a first time learner or looking to improve your style with some new tricks, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a professional. Instead of the trial and error method, take a lesson when you can and you’ll find yourself cutting the learning curve considerably.

Ready, set, ride, it’s time!

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