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Tips for Beginners
I'm no expert snowboarder, but I'm chronicling some of the essential things I've learned since I started boarding. Feel free to check it out.
Boardpass.com tips and tricks is also a great place to check out. It's impossible to learn to board without being on a board, but it can't heard to do a little book learning.
Step 1: Learning to stop. The first lesson of snowboarding is learning to stop. More edge on the mountain equals slower. Basically, put all of your board against the mountain. If you start to slide parallel with the mountain, kick your back foot forward to get your edge back against the mountain. Once you get this down, the steepest hill is no problem. But you're not ready to go up the mountain yet.
Step 2: Changing direction on one edge. In order to actually move, you have to release yourself from the mountain. Having 100% of the edge on the mountain will stop you, but to move, you have to point the board a little down the mountain. However, you're not ready to switch from edge to edge yet, so don't try. Just stay on one edge and put different sides (left foot, right foot) of the board down the mountain. Let your front slide a little faster than your back edge, then dig in your leading side a little and let the trailing side forward so you start to move the other direction. Once you get this down, you can go anywhere on the mountain. You can stop, go, and change direction.
Intermission: About now, you're starting to learn words to describe your boarding. Do you ride "regular" or "goofy?" Regular means the foot of your dominant hand (the strong foot) is to the rear. Your strong foot back means your strong foot will be kicking the board back and forth when you start to carve. So, see which way you prefer to ride. Second, you learn the word "Switch." Riding "Switch" means putting the back edge of the board down the hill. If you find yourself riding switch a lot, that might mean you should put your other foot forward.
Step 3: Skating. Boarding with one foot out of the bindings. If you haven't noticed, you don't have poles, and on flat ground, you can't move. So, you have to get out of your bindings and push yourself along with one foot, ala skateboarding. There's an art to it. This is an essential skill on the dreaded T-bar (next installment). However, this is an important skill to cultivate because, in the long run, you can skip strapping in altogether for those short downhills where you'll have to strap out for an uphill or lift anyway. And, for you studs out there, don't forget one-foot air.
Step 4: Riding the T-bar. This is THE most difficult part of snowboarding when starting out. You can carve all the way down the mountain and still get bucked by the T-bar. The key is to remember to soak up any force from the ground with your legs before it reaches the T-bar. The T-bar isn't going to stop, so if the ground changes the speed of the board, your legs have to stretch or contract to keep your body on the bar. Also understand that the back of the board will fishtail. If you put your foot in the snow, you will fall. If you try to stop the board, you will fall. Just let the board go where it goes, and keep your foot off the ground. A stomp pad (little rubber thing stuck between the bindings) is essential to keep your foot on the board, but, again, don't try to restrict the movement or you'll catch an edge and fall. Another consideration is how to ride. I put the bar between my legs. That way you've only got to worry about one leg to manage the force between the T-bar and the ground.
The two hardest parts are at the start and on hills. The hills aren't difficult if you remember that the T-bar isn't pulling you. You're just sliding down a hill. Bend your legs and slide. When you get to the bottom, the T-bar will grab you again. That's just like starting. To start, just use your arms to slow down the initial jerk. The T-bar jerks at the beginning and pulls you down before the board starts to slide if you don't slow down the initial jolt.
Also remember that the T-bar goes pretty fast, and if you're not used to going fast, you're going to fall, T-bar or not. That goes the other way too. Riding the T-bar will make you better in regular riding too. So don't get frustrated.
Step 5: Flat-ground movement. Waddle, hop, ollie. One reason to hate skiers is that they have poles and can move on flat ground. As snowboarders, we can too, just not so well. The trick is perfecting flat-ground movement to minimize stepping out of bindings. So, if you're on flat ground, you can waddle. It's basically walking, pick up your left foot and put it forward, right foot forward, repeat. It's possible, but the slope has to work out pretty much right. Then there's the "ollie." Basically jump, but with a certain method. pick up back foot while pushing with the front foot to jump. Then when you're in the air, push the back foot forward so it lands forward of where you started. It's a technique that will work for short distances, especially to get moving. (or just click out and skate)
Step 6: Carving. Carving is basically how to ride fast, going from one edge to the other. conditions make a difference. Riding on thin snow/ice is different than riding on powder. The most important thing to remember is to understand that you have to treat your upper and lower body as separate units. Use your lower body to keep one edge of the board against the mountain. Keep your upper body facing the direction you intend to go. When you switch directions, kick the back of your board around so it's against the mountain, but don't forget to face your upper body in the right direction, or you're goin down. You may be afraid to go fast, but it is actually easier because you can use the speed to turn your board. When your going slow, you might think that you can just slowly roll from one edge to the other but you have to jump the back of the board to the other side. Pick up your back foot, move it, and put it back down.
Boardpass.com tips and tricks has diagrams and step-by-step instructions. Basically, it will give technical diagrams on how to carve. The only way to learn is to do it, but a little written instructions won't hurt.
Step 7: Hopping. This basically involves jumping up without any ramp. It's not really air, it's just a hop. You totally control your flight. It's still good to practice this way. You can practice landing and some spinning. You'll also see people doing 180s with a hop. Just understand, when you hit a ramp, it's very different.
Step 8: Air. When you approach, bend your legs. Bending your legs is already good to do because you are going fast and on a slope, so bending your legs gives more control. You already know this gives more control when you're going fast. It also gives you some leeway when you hit the ramp. You can jump a little or a lot depending on how fast you hit the ramp. Bend your legs on the way up and spring at the top. Also remember that the ramp is angled upwards, so keep a forward lean on the way up or it will flip you on your back. Just like going fast is easier than going slow, landing on a down-angle is easier than landing on a flat surface. It doesn't hurt nearly as much, just make sure you can handle the speed.
Step 9: Tricks are for Kids.