Not sure how to approach your first time sliding and carving into the snow? Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first day of snowboarding.
Starting a new sport is exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful. Don’t forget that every rider has been in the same position as you are right now. By having the appropriate gear, following a few tips and keeping a positive attitude, you will enjoy snowboarding in no time!
To determine which foot you’re more comfortable riding forward, imagine you’re sliding across a smooth wooden floor. Better yet, take a few steps to gain some momentum and then slide away on your kitchen or living room floor!
Which foot did you naturally move forward to maintain your balance? Sometimes, you can be comfortable both ways, so make sure to try the experiment a few times and choose the foot that you most often put forward. Once you have your stance figured out, you can set your bindings and angle accordingly.
Skating with a snowboard simply means pushing forward on the ground with the back foot while the front foot is attached to its binding. Once you gain momentum and you’re sliding, you can rest your free foot between both bindings, leaning it on the back binding for balance.
To stop or slow down, move your free foot to the edge of the board on the toe side and slightly dig your boot into the snow. Practice turning slightly and use your toes or your heel to control your speed.
Being comfortable with skating will make it easier and less stressful to get on and off lifts. It will also be very helpful when you have to get across flat surfaces and up small hills.
The first daunting task for snowboarding beginners is often getting on and off the chairlifts. We’ve all imagined the worst-case scenario of either missing the lift or falling face-first on the hardened snow. Choosing the right stance and practicing to skate with your snowboard will prepare you for a stress-free chairlift experience.
Once the chairlift in front of you has gone, skate slowly into position and keep your board pointing towards the top of the hill. Stop at the indicated line. Look back as the chairlift approaches and sit comfortably on the seat by twisting your hips.
Now, getting off the chairlift can be a bit more complicated, but you’ve got this! As the lift slows down, get yourself ready to disembark by twisting your body and positioning your board in the direction you intend to go - generally straight ahead.
As you’re getting off the lift, gently place the board on the ground. There’s no need to jump off the chair. Look forward and stand on your board by placing your loose foot in between the bindings. Slide away from the chairlift by keeping your knees bent for better balance. As you lose momentum, skate forward away from the chairlift until there’s enough space behind you for the people on the next lift to disembark.
For your safety and that of others, avoid leaning onto someone or turning immediately as you get off the chairlift. Once you’ve tightly strapped your boots into your bindings, let the board slide flat on the snow.
Now, the fun begins! Traversing a slope means sliding left and right on the hill like a falling leaf. When you’re in a neutral position, your body weight should sit over your board to maintain balance. Always bend your knees, use your hips and keep a straight back when maneuvering a snowboard. Start to traverse by positioning yourself with your back to the top of the hill. Turn your head in the direction you want to go, lift your hand and point in that same direction.
Let yourself slide to one side by putting pressure on your heels and just letting the board slide. To increase your speed, slightly ease the pressure off your heels until you’ve moved across the slope. To come back to a straight position, put equal pressure on both feet, look down the hill and align your shoulders with the board.
To move to the other side of the slope, put pressure on the heel pointing forward, turn your head and point your hand towards the direction you want to go in. To slide, decrease the pressure. Again, to come back into a straight position, add pressure to both feet and align your shoulders. Once you’ve practiced this a few times, sit down, and roll over to your toe side.
You can go back and forth like this until you feel comfortable enough to move on to the next step: turning!
With your back to the top of the hill, start by sliding on your heels. Lift your hand and point in the direction you are going. Once your board starts pointing downhill, rotate your head, shoulders and hips while adding pressure on your front foot toes. Your board will begin to turn.
Keep pressing on your toes until you’ve completed the turn and you’ve switched from being on your heel edge to your toe edge. You should now be facing the hill. Continue to slide. Now, to turn again, put pressure on your front heel as you rotate your head, shoulders and hips until you’re looking down the hill and then increase the pressure on your heels.
1. Try to visualize these movements while practicing them in your living room. You can even put your boots on! Understanding these moves ahead of time will make it easier to do them on your snowboard.
2. Squat! Exercising the right muscles will decrease muscle soreness after a day of riding in the snow. Squats and lunges are great activators for the glutes.
Snowboarding should be fun! As with anything you are trying or the first time, there will be a learning curve with snowboarding. Go easy on yourself. You’ll fall a few times, and that’s okay. Pick yourself up and practice some more! Snowboarding is a relatively easy sport to learn, and you will probably be confidently ripping through the slopes in just a few days. You’ll see!