Unlike skiing, snowboarding requires the rider to "surf" down a slope sideways without the use of ski poles. Snowboarders looking to practice their sport in Tennessee may be able to find a few hills or smaller mountain slopes off the beaten track but the only dedicated place to snowboard is located in Gatlinburg.
Ober Gatlinburg (obergatlinburg.com), a ski resort and amusement park, offers customers nine slopes on the surrounding terrain for snowboarders of all abilities. It added a freestyle terrain park to its premises in 2009 for snowboarders to practice tricks on pipes and ramps. Various lifts will take snowboarders to the top of their chosen terrain. For easy access, you can park in downtown Gatlinburg and take the aerial tramway directly into the resort. The tramway has two cars that hold 120 passengers and is located at traffic light #9.
You can buy tickets to snowboard at various times of the day or night. Day sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and holidays, with twilight sessions offered from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Night sessions are Monday through Friday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Combo sessions are offered Monday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m. An all-day or extended session is only offered on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are special rates for juniors and seniors but all prices increase on Saturday and holidays.
Ober Gatlinburg rents snowboards, ski pants, jackets and helmets. However, equipment cannot be reserved in advance. It offers "courtesy booths" where you may check your equipment during the day if you wish to visit some of the other attractions at the resort. Snowboarders who plan to come back to Ober Gatlinburg for consecutive days may store their own equipment on site overnight for a fee.
Those new to snowboarding can sign up for beginner's lessons with on-site professional instructors. These trainers will teach you how to glide, balance and stop. Private lessons and group lessons are available at the facility. All customers who have never been snowboarding are required to have a lesson before hitting the slopes.
When negotiating unfamiliar or difficult snowboarding freestyle terrain at Ober Gatinburg's terrain park, make sure you make a mental plan for each feature you want to use. Do an easy warm up over the terrain in order to become more familiar with the grounds before attempting any tricks. Make sure that you have accounted for the weather and how it might have affected the park's equipment. Ice may make pipes and ramps more slick than usual. Do not attempt any new tricks unless you have the experience to do them safely. Respect other riders and take turns on the features. Clear landing areas quickly to avoid accidents.
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