Despite sharing a hill and lifts, snowboarding has an entirely different set of techniques than downhill skiing. Learning to snowboard can be a long, hard road, with lots of face-plants and butt-busters. Unlike skis, which will detach and leave you at the first sign of trouble, a snowboard will stay attached. This can make snowboard crashes a little more sudden and occasionally painful than those on skis. But the rewards are well worth it. Unlike skis, with their poles and complicated interactions, snowboarding is refreshingly pure. It is just you and the board. Developing some of the basic snowboarding techniques can carry you a long way toward the goal of carving smoothly through soft powder.
Stance is the defining element of your snowboarding experience from which all other techniques and abilities emerge. While some snowboarders prefer to have one foot angled slightly differently than the other, in general you want to have both feet facing directly perpendicular to the board to maximize flexibility. More important for beginners is determining which foot you prefer to put forward. Instruct a friend to push you from behind when you least expect it (not on a snowboard, just in everyday life). Tell them to carefully observe which foot you put forward to stop yourself. Chances are that "rescue" foot will be your dominant foot and should be the front foot in your snowboarding stance while learning. While boarding, keep crouched at the knees, with arms up and head level.
One of the most important snowboard techniques is having complete control over both of your edges. You can practice edge control on flat ground by strapping in and rocking back and forth, attempting to stay as far up on edge as possible, for as long as possible. The key to going downhill on a snowboard is to constantly maintain balance on the uphill edge. To lean on the downhill edge is to "catch an edge" and wipe out in a spectacular, embarrassing and likely painful manner.
The key to turning is not in the legs, but in your waist and head. Many beginning snowboarders make the mistake of leaning on to their back legs, fearing the speed that would come with leaning forward. This is an instinct every snowboarder must overcome. Keeping the weight on your downhill leg will allow your back leg to shift when turning, keeping you in control. This pressure on the downhill leg is the only real element of control your legs have in the turn. To turn to the right or left, pivot your hips in that direction. Turn your whole upper body in the direction you wish to turn. Look into the turn by turning your neck as well. You will be surprised to find that your legs will follow your body. As long as the weight is on the front of the board, your legs will naturally move to align at the hips, turning you into the hill. Remember to lean into that uphill edge.
Article Written By Louie Doverspike
Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.