January 26, 2009
Snowboarding for Starters
The three basic snowboarding skills are stance, body movements, and learning how to traverse from your “heel-side” or “toe-side”. These three basic skills are very important for beginners learning how to snowboard. Having a good stance means having a good balance. Your body movements determine your control of the board as well as your direction. Traversing will help you learn how to snowboarding either on your “heel-side” or “toe-side”.
Your stance determines whether you are a “goofy rider” or a “regular rider”. When you first begin snowboarding, you need to find which foot is in front. To find out which foot is in front of the other, you must figure out which way is more comfortable. Another way of finding out what kind of stance you might have would be the first step forward walking up the stairs. There are more ways to find out what type of rider you might be. A “regular” stance simply means that your left foot is at front of the snowboard while riding down the mountain. A “goofy” stance is when the right foot is at the front of the snowboard. Although a snowboarder is called a “regular rider”, it does not imply that it is more common than a “goofy rider”. The bindings of a snowboard are to hold the rider’s boots tightly is place. If you can move your boot in the bindings, the bindings are too loose. If you can move your heel from the sole of the boot, then the boot is too loose. Either one of these could cause you trouble with toe-side turns. Toe-side is also known as carving, which means that the rider will balance on either the heel-side or toe-side of the board and switching up side every so often. The bindings are important because it transfers the rider’s energy to the board with the rider’s body movement.
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Snowboarding is accomplished in three developmental phases: extending your body, maximum extension, and redistributing your weight. Extending your body feels like you are pulling your body up and out of the snow. Extending your body will help you ride down the mountain. When riding down the mountain apply pressure on your lead foot. Bend your knees and keep your back straight to where you feel balanced. When applying pressure to your lead foot, this does not mean apply press with your entire body, only in your lead foot. It would kind of feel as if you are squishing something from underneath your foot.
Maximum extension is when the extension feels as if you are trying to separate your legs from the snowboard itself. Once you are a maximum extension, you will transit from either the “heel-side” of the board to the “toe-side” of the board, and vice-versa. Your toe-side is when you apply more pressure in your toes, slightly lifting your heels. Your heel-side is the exact opposite: you will be lifting your toes up as you apply more pressure in your heels. Be careful and try not to forget about lifting either your heels or toes because this could cause the board to catch onto snow and you will be falling onto your back or face planting. Your body will follow your body.
Traversing will teach you how to control your speed and improve your balance while on the mountain. To switch from your heel-side to the goofy stance, turn your torso to face downhill. As you do this apply a little pressure to your rear leg (the left one in this case), and distribute your weight. Switching to your toe-side is very similar; you will turn your torso uphill, and at the same time apply pressure to your rear leg and place your weight over your toes leaning forward a little. Traversing is looking towards the direction where you want to go. This is the most crucial things that you should do when traversing. Then, turn your head and upper body towards the direction you wish to travel to.
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There are two side-slipping ways you can stop. One of the two ways is known as your toe-side. When starting out, for a rider with a goofy stance, apply more pressure in your lead foot, facing your torso downhill and gradually turning your body facing uphill with more weight over your toes. The other way you can stop is known as your heel-side. When doing this maneuver, apply pressure to your lead foot and gradually turn your board diagonally from the slope, turning your body facing downhill with more weight in your heels.
You will find out whether you are more comfortable with a goofy stance or a regular stance. In essence, snowboarding is about the constant state of balancing, and reacting or adjusting to any conditions that are at hand. This can only be accomplished by mastering the fundamentals of snowboarding.