Don't try to be flash on the steep stuff - stick to your stem turns

I am going snowboarding for the first time and would like to buy my own gear. What would you advise?
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Tim Wilson, by email

An all-purpose board should reach about chin height when stood next to you. Higher for freeriding, lower for freestyle. Boots are probably the single most important aspect to get right. When you are strapped in, the heel-lift must be at an absolute minimum. Many resorts have test centres at the bottom of the slopes which are perfect for trying out different models.

If the light goes flat or the terrain becomes steep when I'm skiing, I loose confidence; what can I do to hold my nerve?

Mary Simpson, London

It is important that you ski slopes which you can cope with, as that will help you to build your confidence before attempting harder slopes. If in doubt, use the stem turn – the transition between the snowplough and parallel turn. You can get down most terrain using this. Another tip is to focus on breathing, as this will help you to relax your legs and body.

I have been boarding three times, but I'm still having trouble with drag lifts. I had a bad experience the first time and just avoided them after that. Can you help?

Fiona Brabant, by email

The secret is to relax. Prepare yourself with your front foot strapped in and your rear foot pressed against the inside of the rear binding. Take the drag-lift pole in your leading hand and place it between your legs. Don't pull it, let the lift take you while you have your weight evenly balanced. Never grip the pole with both hands as this will twist your shoulders round.

I'm an average intermediate standard skier, love the sport but just can't seem to get to the next level – can you offer any advice?

Peter Edwards, Glasgow

First, take heart, then take a course. Courses are designed to give you lots of tips on technique over a short period. Both the Ski Club (0845 45 807 84) and The Ski Company (0870 241 2085) run courses for all standards. It also helps if you can take a ski holiday for more than just seven days; if you can afford, both in time and money, a two-week break, your skiing will have a real chance of improving. The new carving skis could also help.

When I make a toe-edge turn on my board I often catch the heelside edge and fall hard on my back. How can I improve my turns?

Dani Hughes, Carlisle

If you lean too far forward you can put your hands out and stop yourself falling. And to get on that edge, you've got to bend your knees – this forces you to put pressure on your toes, and hence the edge; at the same time, dip your leading shoulder in the direction of the turn to put the edge into the snow. The lower you bend, the tighter the carve.

Liz Russell is Information Manager at the Ski Club of Great Britain (020 8410 2000, Ben Letham is a member of the club's information team.

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