Higher education: snowboarding tips

Beginner's guide: How one baby-boom skier became a snowboarding convert

With snowboarding rivaling downhill skiing in popularity, virtually all Western ski resorts now offer snowboard classes. (A small handful don't, so it's wise to call the resort before you head up to the mountains.) Experts offer the following tips to aspiring snowboarders.

Once is not enough. Most beginning snowboarders find the learning curve faster than for downhill skiing, but don't plan on learning everything in one day. Two to three days of lessons with a certified instructor should get you over the beginner's hump and out onto the slopes with confidence.

Easy does it. "Hard snow means hard falls," advises Tania Pilkinton of Kirkwood Resort. "Try to learn when it's soft ― after new snow or in the afternoon ― and your body will be much happier."

Personal bests. Get a group lesson the first day ― no need to pay the higher cost for a private lesson to learn how to buckle your binding. That said, a private lesson once you've mastered the basics can fine-tune newly acquired skills.