Insurance & health

INSURANCE

Shine a torch into the ear of a boarder without insurance and sure enough there'll be light coming out the other side. Only a fool would hit the slopes without good insurance. The main things to check in the small print of your policy is that it states:

* Snowboarding
* Off Piste (you don't want to be crawling
back to the piste with a busted leg)
* Personal Injury including repatriation.
* Personal Belongings including your board
* Curtailments, cancellation of flights etc

If hiring kit make sure it's insured on your policy or covered by the hire shop. It's possible to get insurance with your lift pass in some countries but this will normally only cover getting you off the slopes and to the hospital.

European Health Insurance Card
All EU nationals (inc UK) can get the free European Health Insurance Card which has replaced the old E111, pick up the form from the post office. This is no replacement for insurance but makes sure you're covered for medical care and not charged, and is valid across all member states.

THEFT

At least once when you go boarding you'll hear the story that a van turned up at the resort and nicked a load of boards from outside a bar. Make sure you look after your board and that your insurance policy covers the full value of it. Its worth spending a tenner and buying a board lock. It may not look cool, but it'll save you when you stumble back to the bar you started drinking in 8 hours ago trying to find it.

If you do get anything stolen then contact the police, you probably won't get it back, but it will help with your claim.

Health on the hill

To get the most out of any snowboard trip you should have a reasonable level of fitness. You need not be an Olympic athlete but to avoid feeling like you've been hit by a truck do some exercise before reaching the slopes. In resort the best things to do each day to prevent injury is do a warm up before that first run, even if it's just a few stretches warm mussels won't tear as easily as when cold.

Just because a resort has hotels and chair lifts don't let it fool you, it's still a mountain and should be treated with respect. There's less oxygen at altitude and you'll find yourself puffing even on a short up hill walk. Add that to the 15 pints of beer you drank last night and the cold air, and suddenly dehydration is a real issue so drink plenty of water. The sun is really strong in the mountains and reflects off the snow, making your face redder than pie eating football fan's beer belly in Benidorm. Get 100%UV approved goggles and sunglasses, wear high factor sun screen and remember to reapply.

Off the slope

There is often loads to do in resorts other than boarding. Some resorts offer ice-climbing, snowmobiling, paragliding and even tandem freefall parachute jumps. Lots of resorts have indoor sports facilities like swimming pools, ice rinks, bowling alleys and gyms. Most importantly all have pubs, bars, night clubs and restaurants. It shouldn't take long to find the best places to hang out, just ask a local to point you in the right direction. Try to stay away from the humourless hat wearing skier bars that play euro pop and sell cocktails with stupid names. Restaurants on the mountain are always more expensive than those in the town, some criminally so. Most places will have a wide range of eateries from street food to fine dining.

Snowboarding is there for you to enjoy. Party Hard but Ride Harder.