Snowboarding 101: 5 tips for beginners
Professional snowboarders make snowboarding look easy. Even the most athletic person spends at least a few days falling and getting bruised. People learn in different ways, and for many adults who learn to snowboard, it helps to understand the physics and concepts behind snowboarding to help with the learning process.
Here are five tips to get you down your first bunny slope on a snowboard:
• Practice your stance before you get on a snowboard: Use an athletic stance, knees slightly bent, shoulder-width apart with weight equally balanced on both feet. Before strapping into the board, stand on flat ground and practice an athletic stance in your snowboard boots. Do a few vertical jumps in place, with your torso upright and your arms and shoulders loose and relaxed. Shake it all out!
• Practice “skating” on snow: Pick which foot you want strapped in the front, and strap it in. Keep your back foot free to push the board forward. Find a flat open area on the snow. Like the motion of a skateboarder, push off with your back foot, keeping the board flat on the snow, and slide the board forward (push-glide, push-glide, push-glide). Practice taking small steps to push your board at first. Then practice longer pushes. Place your back foot onto the stomp pad (the area between your two bindings) to rest as you glide on the board. Then try skating in a large circle to get more comfortable with the feeling of pushing and gliding on your board with one foot strapped in.
• Learn to make J-turns: Learning J-turns also enables you to stop or to control your speed when going downhill. Strap one foot in the board, as you would when skating. Point your board downhill. Put your back foot on the stomp pad and go down an incline. Lift your heels slightly, putting equal pressure on the toes of both feet. Keep your athletic stance – knees bent, weight balanced on both legs, hips and shoulders in line with the board. Be loose and relaxed. Turn in the same direction until you feel comfortable. Turn in the opposite direction by going straight and slightly lifting your toes on both feet, putting pressure on the heelside of the board.
• Learn to get on and off the lift: Skate to the chairlift loading line. Look over your shoulder for the chair. When the chair hits the back of your legs, sit down onto it. To get off, move your body sideways while still sitting on the chair, making it easier to get into the snowboard position. Where you get off, put the board flat onto the snow, point your board straight, put your back foot on the stomp pad and go! If you need to turn, use the same movements as when practicing J-turns. If you fall, get up quickly and move out of the way of other people getting off the lift.
• Practice making C-turns: On steep inclines think of a C shape to slow your board. Make turns in the same way as the J-turns but with a more gradual arc. Practice flexing and twisting your board slightly by adjusting the pressure on your toes and heels. To do a toe-side turn, drop the toes on one foot first and then follow it with the other foot – twisting like a surfer while making sure your board is always in contact with the snow. For a heel-side turn, lift your front foot toes slightly. Then lift the toes of your back foot, again, keeping your board in contact with the snow to make the shape of a C. Practice turning in both directions.
Also, keep in mind that one way to learn is to watch others. When practicing, be certain to observe other experienced snowboarders. Evaluate how they’re standing, getting on and off the lift and making C-turns down the hill.
Max (Margaret) Shu Teasdale is the founder and CEO of Powhound.com. She is a former AASI Level-1 snowboard instructor who specializes in teaching beginners and women. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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