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One of my old pub quiz teammates recently moved to Colorado and has been trying to get the rest of the team to take a trip and come visit him.
Part of the trip would involve going skiing or snowboarding in Aspen since it’s only about an hour’s drive from his house.
He called me up very apologetically the other day and said, “Hey man, I kind of forgot about your size when I talked about plans for Aspen. It shouldn’t be a problem, though, right? I don’t think there’s a weight limit, is there?”
I told him not to worry about it because it was a valid question that didn’t occur to me. Can fat people go skiing or snowboarding? Do we need special equipment? What about ski lifts?
Well, I did some research, and here’s what I learned.
Can Fat People Go Skiing or Snowboarding?
The answer is yes! There is no weight limit for skiing or snowboarding and fat people are free to enjoy the slopes.
Most ski lifts are designed to carry 4-6 people at one time, so it’s not likely that there will be an issue getting you up the mountain.
I definitely recommend lessons if you’ve never gone before and some places even require them for beginners. Resorts often have special packages for first-timers that include lessons, equipment rentals, and lift tickets.
The only issue you might run into is that some ski lodges might not have skis or a snowboard for your size if you’re over 220 pounds, so you’ll want to call ahead and check.
If you live near a mountain with a ski resort and plan on going more than once, it’ll probably be easier to buy your own equipment.
Used skis and snowboards online in great shape can sometimes sell for $200 to $500, which will be cheaper in the long run compared to a $40 or $50 rental fee.
That said, I would suggest buying them in person to make sure you’re getting the right size. Also, I imagine the shipping fees are not cheap!
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?
The right equipment for winter sports goes beyond just the snowboard or the skis themselves. There are a few other things to consider.
First, you’ll want a good helmet to protect your head during falls and most beginners fall quite a bit when they’re starting out. Ski helmets are a little bigger than bicycle helmets and usually have ear flaps to protect from the cold.
I’m lucky because my head is pretty small for my size and I can easily fit into most hats and helmets.
You’ll also want some elbow and knee pads to go underneath your snow pants since you can expect to fall quite a few times while learning and you’ll want to protect your joints.
A good pair of loose-fitting snow pants and multiple layers, including a windproof and waterproof jacket are highly recommended. It’s going to be very cold on the mountaintop, so you’ll want to be dressed properly.
The boots are probably the most important piece of equipment other than the board themselves, though, since they can be difficult to find in larger sizes if you happen to have larger feet.
I wear size 9.5 shoes, which makes things pretty easy for me, but people with larger feet may run into some difficulty and require custom boots. You’ll want them to fit snugly inside the bindings to avoid flying off into the snow.
As for the skis or snowboards themselves, you’ll want them to be slightly longer and wider than the height chart recommends. Your best bet is to ask the clerk at the rental counter or equipment shop.
You’ll also want the bindings (the harnesses that keep you secured to the skis or snowboard) to be a little closer to the front than a smaller rider would, but the person who rents or sells you the board will know the right place to put them.
Advice and Tips for Heavier Riders
Because of our size, skiing or snowboarding is going to be a little bit different for us compared to smaller riders, but there won’t be too much of a difference.
Since we’re heavier, our bodies will gain more momentum and go downhill faster than riders of smaller sizes.
Balancing on a ski or a snowboard is a difficult task for all beginners, but can also be even more challenging for us. The best ways to improve your balance are to get a lot of practice and by watching others.
The two main types of skiing and snowboarding are freestyle and alpine. Freestyle allows for more tricks, but the terrain is more difficult. Alpine involves going down an established trail and will be much easier for beginners.
One of the most important skills to have on the mountain is patience. You’re probably not going to be the Tony Hawk of snowboarding after your first lesson and that’s okay.
Both disciplines have a learning curve and it will probably take you a while to get comfortable, but as long are you’re still having fun out on the slopes, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down.
Is Skiing or Snowboarding Better for Fat Riders?
I’m going to preface this by saying you should do whichever one you prefer because neither one has a weight limit and both can be very fun.
That said, I grew up near a ski resort and I always heard that snowboarding was easier for fat people, because it’s basically surfing on snow.
Snowboarding boots are a lot more comfortable to walk around in than ski boots, especially if you have to climb stairs.
Accidentally finding yourself doing the splits is easy to do on skis and nearly impossible on a snowboard. Since I haven’t done them since I was about six years old, I don’t think I want to start doing them again anytime soon! I want to keep that streak intact.
Again, you don’t have to pick snowboarding just because I heard some guy say it was easier when I was a teenager. If you think you’d like it better, go for it!
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
There is no weight limit for skiing or snowboarding and you can do either one regardless of your weight, although you may need to buy your own equipment or find a place that rents to people of our size.
You should always get a lesson for your first time up on the mountain. In fact, many places require it for beginners.
They’re often included in packages, which can be quite cheap since the idea is to get you to fall in love with skiing or snowboarding and get you to keep coming back.
Don’t be afraid of falling, since you’ll have a lot of equipment and layers of clothing to protect you. Everyone falls on the mountain and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
You’re not going to look as ridiculous as Legolas surfing down the stairs on his shield during the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Also, you’ll be on the beginner’s hill with a bunch of beginners, so nobody’s going to laugh at you since you’re on the same skill level.
No matter your size, you can have a wonderful time up the mountain with friends or by yourself. Be safe, have fun, and good luck!