Snowboarding in the Netherlands!?

I never tried skiing or snowboarding and when asked why I think the simple answer is neither my family or peer group growing up brought me into any situation where I had the opportunity. Living in New Jersey I certainly enjoyed the winter time as a child (who did not look forward to a snow day?) and sledding and tobogganing where wonderfully fun activities in the country area we lived in.

As I got older snowboarding was always intriguing to me. (There was even a friend, Joseph Maffei, who worked for me for a short period of time who I remember being an ESPN class boarder) Skiing, on the other hand, was something I always looked at as a disaster waiting to happen. I have two legs attached to one body and the idea of them going in independent directions on long sticks attached to my feet was never a comforting thought. The closest I have ever come to being on a snowboard is the time spent on skateboards as a child – in days long before the crazy ramps, quarter pipes, and such of today came to be. I have had surf lessons and do not see much of a connection to snowboarding as attempting to stand on water is a far different challenge than having shoes bolted to a board.

So, for whatever the history, I never tried until just the other day in the Netherlands. Yes, the Netherlands the place where if there was a contest for the flattest country on the planet they would certainly either win or be in the top ten. Adding that to the fact they rarely get snow, made for an odd place to finally try something I thought about for nearly 20 years. Then again, with my first sushi experience happening in Amsterdam, and years later discovering I was allergic to quinine via Bitter Lemon from a bar in Breda, I guess there is some odd continuance of unusual firsts for me when around the Dutch.

So, where does one go snow boarding in the Netherlands? At the Skidôme of course! I was told that it is built on top of a land fill (garbage dump) to achieve the incline and from there they brought the setting indoors for a year round activity zone in big freezer with real manmade snow. Being there I was not sure what to expect, or if I would even try anything, but when two others in our group said they had never done it before, and they were going for a snowboarding lesson, the choice was easy. Count me in!


Our instructor was fabulous and spoke English extremely well as he is used to having English speaking students. The other two people attempting the sport were native Dutch but between being fluent in English, switching between languages, and getting visual demonstrations, everyone was well connected to the learning experience. One of the things I liked about the sport immediately was the fact that your feet are indeed locked on the board. As our instructor put it, “Even when they find you dead under the snow you will still be on your board.” For me this means there is not mechanical point of designed failure (or better said – disengagement) for safety that could in itself fail. The safety is inherent in the way you are attached to the board alone. (Perhaps my theory and fear of two legs going in directions has been validated?)

We started with simply getting used to having one foot attached and moving around which was not bad at all. Just placing the second foot on the board got us started moving and with two feet locked into place the fun began. I was surprised as to how hard it was to move around when not going forward! Seeing the people who can hop around in nearly any direction, with no help of going down an incline, was leap of skill I certainly was not going to touch on this first time out!

How to stand, placement of arms, the importance of having your weight on your forward leg, were all basics that we needed to concentrate on to help us make progress. Going straight, and even navigating, came pretty easy to me but when it came to braking that was another story. Braking while looking down slope (with my heels) was close to impossible while looking uphill (and using my toes) was probably best described as within a very distant reach. Yet, as difficult both methods where I could still fathom the possibility and thus was excited with the potential.

With the lesson over I though about something I never did before — asking our Member Services Manager at Exclusive Resorts which mountain destination would be the best to learn snow boarding with the kids. Yes, snowboarding is da’ bomb and I am looking forward to trying it again and this time in the open air for a lot longer!