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Learn to Snowboard
If you're very new to snowboarding, then you're either visiting us here at SCUK because you think snowboarding will make you look cool or because you think you might enjoy it. Whilst snowboarding is certainly more cool than not snowboarding, we can't promise instant coolness. What we do hope, is that when you try snowboarding, you'll find it easy to pick up, fun to progress and something that you continue to enjoy.
The aim of Snowboard Club UK is to get more people snowboarding more often. We do this by negotiating discounts on products and services, by supporting the UK's snowboarding events, running our own trips and by making you feel welcome to the club, even before you decide to join.
Don't be afraid to have a look through the SCUK FAQs, search for information in the SCUK Forums or ask questions in the Forum if you have anything you're not sure about when you start snowboarding. If you're looking for a good place to learn near you, want advice on your first snowboard, boots, gloves or people to holiday with, then the forums are the place to ask.
John Chandler is an instructor at Milton Keynes Xscape. You might know him as MetalJoe from the SCUK, AdrenalinTrip or Powderroom forums or perhaps just plain MJ.
MJ is going to take you through what you can expect when you're looking forward to your first tentative side slips down the hill on a snowboard.
John is Scottish Snowsports ASBI (Artificial Surface Board Instructor) qualified. He also studied for a APSI (Australian Professional Snowsports Instructor) qualification, but couldn't afford to take the final exam after a long season!Part 1 - Your First Snowboard Lesson
Part 2 - Board Basics
Part 3 - Sideslipping and Diagonals : The Toe Edge
Part 4 - Sideslipping and Diagonals : The Heel Edge
Part 5 - Turns
Part 1 - Your First Snowboard Lesson
Everyone has a first time on a snowboard. For some, it involves being launched down a slope by some well-meaning, but slightly reckless, friends who cheerfully shout out useful comments like "Turn! Turn!" or "Lean back more!". Unless you have a qualified instructor as a friend, and a suitably understanding friendship, it's a good idea to invest in proper lessons with a recognised snowboard school. You'll learn faster, be taught a solid technique, have more fun, and hopefully learn the all-important skill of stopping using the board rather than a conveniently placed tree or chairlift pylon.
Lessons can seem a bit daunting though. I remember my first lesson only too well, because I genuinely did not have much of a clue about snowboarding - other than the fact snowboarders sat down a lot on the piste, said "whoah dude", and went sideways while doing tricks stolen from skateboarders. Needless to say I was quite nervous and ill-prepared, which is quite common - I'm an instructor now and I can safely say that most people I teach on their very first lesson really don't know what to expect.
The unknown is what we're really nervous about. If we're uncertain how something unfolds, or what something is going to feel like it can be quite unnerving. Our imagination runs wild and our body becomes fearful, neither of which is good because if we're tense or over-thinking, we panic and make mistakes. The best solution is to be prepared in advance for what's going to happen... which is what this article is all about.
Do I need to be young/fit/athletic/sporty/cool/agile? Am I going to look foolish?
The quickest way to dispel a lot of myths about who can snowboard is to look at me the day before I took my first lesson. I was 25, hated sports, had no sense of balance, unfit, very uncool, not very confident, clumsy and about as agile as a Sumo wrestler performing ballet. If anyone summed up the very opposite of a stereotypical snowboarder, it was me. Yet I learnt just fine, if a little slowly at times.
Anyone can learn to snowboard provided they're willing to learn and don't think hard exercise is reaching for the remote control. Surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding and skiing all incorporate skills useful for snowboarding, but they are definitely not requirements. You don't even need to have seen snow before.
Will you look silly when you're learning? Probably. There's no gentle way of saying that, but we all look equally silly when we're learning and you won't even notice - certainly those around you will be feeling just as self-conscious and will be more concerned about how they look to notice anything you do. Just take heart that all the top snowboarding pros looked foolish at times when they learnt - we all start from somewhere, and the end result is more than worth it.
Check out the SCUK Fit for Boarding section if you'd like some advice on how to get in shape for snowboarding.
What will I need?
There's no definitive list of what you'll need, and exact requirements depend on where you're learning so I won't go into too much detail here. At the extreme end, learning on a mountain will require layers of warm clothing topped off with a waterproof layer, a decent set of full UV protection goggles or wrap-around sunglasses, waterproof gloves and a helmet or warm beanie. Indoor snow slopes are cold and use real snow, so warm and waterproof clothing is also important, although you can get by with a hooded top instead of a jacket - just don't wear jeans!
If in doubt, find out - learning with inappropriate clothing can be very uncomfortable.
The first thing is to book the lessons. Most schools will be geared towards complete beginners, so it's unlikely you will find yourself on a lesson with a group of hardcore freestyle enthusiasts - but check anyway if you're not asked. Indoor and dryslopes normally supply boots and boards as standard, and most likely a helmet too. On the mountain, you will probably need to hire boards and boots separately. Again, check with the school in advance - those who don't include equipment in their lesson package will more than likely be able to point you towards a rental company who do.
I mentioned a helmet just then. I always ride with a helmet and most of my friends do as well. Helmets are a valuable piece of safety equipment, and I would always recommend you use one, even if they are not required for lessons at your chosen slope. You can pick up decent helmets for use on the mountain from all good ski and snowboard shops, while for dryslope and indoor use you can always opt for the cheaper option of using a skateboard or BMX helmet. It's not often you need a helmet, but it's essential to have one when you do! If nothing else, it's good for the confidence and can help some people relax more - all of which will help immensely during the learning process.
Before you start totalling up costs for buying or hiring kit, ask friends and families. It's quite possible they have stuff lying around that could be borrowed, and a belt here or a bit of careful buttoning there could make something fit - baggier is better than being too tight as you'll need a bit of mobility. End-of-season sales can also yield a bargain bin full of goodies, and quite a few people sell off second hand kit at reasonable prices. Don't worry about this season's must-haves, beg and borrow kit - it doesn't matter if it's all a bit mix and match. Check to see if local shops or your local slope hire out clothing as well. Believe me, there's plenty of time for fashionable and expensive kit once you've learnt - for now, cheap and cheerful is the name of the game.
Okay, so that's board, boots, helmet and clothes sorted. Anything else?
Well, returning briefly to safety equipment, if you're feeling cautious you might want to consider some additional protection. Wristguards, like those used by inline skaters, that slip under gloves are a popular extra. Snowboarders tend to suffer a few wrist injuries, partly because it's instinct to put our hands out when we fall, so guards can offer a bit of extra support. Bum padding is also useful as we'll spend a fair bit of time on our backsides. You can buy impact shorts, as used by snowboarders and motorbike racers, but a cheap option is to find something padded to slip down your trousers - some people cut up foam matting. With baggy trousers, they're pretty much invisible so it won't look like you have a big bum - the padding is also pretty useful in keeping you warm when sitting down on snow.
When you decide to join Snowboard Club UK, remember we have a huge list of places where you can get discount snowboard equipment.
Planning and Preparation
Okay, so the big day arrives. Make sure you have everything you need for the lesson. If boots and boards need to be picked up, make sure you know where to get them from and that you can go from there to the lesson with plenty of time. At my local slope, kit hire is in the same location as the instructor pick-up so it's all in one place - things might be different, so check! Depending on how busy things are, and where your slope is, I'd allow yourself about half an hour to get board and boots sorted out. Let's take a look at those first...
Snowboard boots are different to ski boots. They're softer and more flexible, they lace up and have a wider degree of movement. You can walk around in them quite happily, and some people even feel comfortable driving in them - I don't, however. Boots are absolutely vital pieces of equipment so take time to make sure they fit comfortably. Boot sizes are the same as shoe sizes, so ask for your normal size and put them on. Your foot should be snug and have room to wiggle your toes. Lace up the boots fairly tightly to minimise foot movement and check that the boot feels comfy, that you haven't cut off the circulation to your feet, and that your heel doesn't rise up too much inside the boot. A little bit is okay, too much will make you work ten times as hard to do anything with the board and you'll tire quickly. If you're not happy with the fit, take the boot back and either try another in your size or maybe try the next size up or down until you find one that feels good.
Once you have a pair of well-fitting boots, go and get a board.
This is the first bit of unfamiliar territory if you've not tried any board sport before. The rental assistant will eye you up and say something like:
"Regular or goofy?"
Huh? Okay, keep calm and keep the following in mind: snowboarding is a sideways sport. When we move down the slope, we lead with one foot. From personal observations, roughly half of us lead with our left foot and half with our right. Left-footers are known as Regular riders (or Natural in some countries). Right footers are called Goofy, which I have on good authority is down to a certain Disney character's surfing preference, and not any kind of personal slur. Footedness is unrelated to handedness, age, gender, eye dominance or pretty much anything else.
So how do you know what you are? Well, the short answer is that you don't to begin with. If you've surfed or skateboarded, it's more than likely you will lead with the same foot so pick that to begin with. Those of us total board newbies will need to make a decision. It's not that important to begin with and you will eventually decide which foot your prefer as you do the lessons, but you'll need to answer the regular/goofy question so here's a couple of suggestions:
First, you could pick a foot. Have a think and decide whether you would feel better with your left foot forward or your right foot. Imagine yourself on a board. Toss a coin if you can't decide.
Alternatively, try a test. I've yet to find a foolproof method and I fail most of these tests anyway, but they work for some people so if they help you decide then that's good. Have a go at sliding along some ice or a slippery floor. Which foot do you stick out in front? Get a friend to push you by surprise sometime during the day before the lesson. Which foot did you stick out? Borrow a skateboard and see which foot feels best on the board when you push with the other foot.
In the end, it doesn't really matter. Pick a foot for now and as the lessons progress you'll figure it out. So, if you think you're left footed, ask for a left foot board or say you're regular. Right foot, goofy. They'll poke around through the board racks and present you with a board. That's yours. Take it aside and take a look at it.
The first thing to make sure is that it is a good size for you. Boards come in different sizes - the choice of size is based on what you want to do with it and how heavy you are. Since you want to learn on your board, that's the what part dealt with. Weight is a different issue - I doubt the rental assistant asked for your weight or put you on a set of scales. They probably eyed you up and got a board out, or placed a board alongside you, gave a nod of approval and sent you on your way. As a quick rule of thumb, rental shops have found it easier to make sure a board is roughly the same length as the distance from your feet to a point between chin and nose. Having a board that's too big or too small might be awkward to use. Make sure it comes up to between chin and nose when you place it upright in front of you. If it's not the right size, take it back and ask for a different one or it could make things slightly harder on your lesson.
Okay, so that's the boots and board... time to get to the lesson.
T Minus 30
Arrive at the meeting point half an hour before the lesson. Make sure you are ready to go with plenty of time to spare - it's not good having to rush to a meeting point, turning up halfway through the lesson or finding the group has already gone. Some schools are very strict - you miss the start time and you will not be allowed to join the lesson. If you spot instructors, you can always introduce yourself and double-check you have the right location. You might even meet your instructor, or be directed to them so you can get chatting and make sure your boots and board are okay. If you're so inclined, you can also do a few warm up stretches to help calm the nerves and warm up the muscles.
The exact process for assembling groups varies with schools. Some get the instructor to shout out the group level "Level one snowboard!", others have a sign post, some have the instructors walk up to a group and introduce themselves, others might operate a queue. Either way, you'll eventually find yourself with an instructor and a group of fellow beginners all sporting ill-fitting helmets, baggy neon jackets borrowed from relatives and some very nervous faces.
This is it... Your First Lesson
No matter where you go, the very first lesson is fairly similar across the world, with just a few variations. The instructor will introduce themselves and probably confirm that everyone is on the right lesson for complete beginners. Don't be alarmed if someone says they've already done it before - some people are either taking proper lessons for the first time after a few self-study attempts, or they're returning after a gap.
Most, if not all, instructors will then go around the group and get everyone's names. I also ask why it is people have decided to take up snowboarding. The reason isn't important, it's just nice to know what brought you to the lesson - you might be bored of skiing, an old surfer looking for new thrills, keeping a friend company or you've seen your favourite cartoon character on a snowboard. Any reason is a good reason.
Next we'll introduce you to the board. What looks like a big plank with some funny bits attached will start to look more familiar - you'll learn which bits of the board make you go fast, which bits help slow you down, and which bits keep your feet attached to the board. Don't worry too much if it goes in one ear and out the other, you'll come across the parts a few times during the lesson and it'll gradually start to make more sense. The instructor will also show you how to attach your feet to the board, one foot at a time, and how to stand properly on the board while the board is on a flat bit of ground. Don't worry, you won't be shooting off down the slope! If there's room, you might also be given the chance to move around a bit with one foot strapped in and using the other foot to push you along - a bit like skateboarding. I also show people how to fall properly - having a practice fall can show you that it doesn't really hurt as much as you would think.
Once you've covered the basic introduction, the instructor will take you to a suitable part of the lesson slope and you can have a go at some proper snowboarding.
Standing on the slope for the first time can be quite daunting. If you're not used to the terrain, you might be thinking it looks quite steep and quite slippery. Don't panic! Instructors have had a lot of training and know the right spots to teach parts of the lesson - safety is the most important part of instructor training and we won't put you in a situation that is unsuitable for you. What looks like the top of Everest is probably a very tame slope you wouldn't think twice about walking up/down or sliding on a toboggan. It's all a matter of perspective - you've not been down it on a snowboard so your imagination tries to fill in the blanks with a pessimistic guess.
The instructor will probably point out a few things to be aware of - like the boundaries for the lesson or what to do if you want to make an emergency stop. They'll show you how to safely strap in on a slope, which will usually involve sitting down to strap the second foot in so you don't go sliding away. When everyone's strapped in and ready, it's time for the first exercise: the sideslip.
The sideslip is a basic little manoeuvre that is used at all levels to navigate down difficult slopes. Since this is your first time on a board, you'll probably agree that the slope in front of you would rank as difficult for the moment, so the sideslip is appropriate. If you've forgotten which bits make you go fast and which bits make you go slow, you'll be re-introduced to those bits as they're used in this exercise. In short: the base of the board makes you pick up speed, the edges of the board are your brakes. The sideslip shows you how to control the speed of the board down the slope by varying the amount of base and brakes you use. You'll have the board pointing across the slope, but you'll move downwards - you won't be pointing one end of the board down the slope (like you see on TV or in the movies) as this makes you go very fast, with no brakes.
Having the board sideways (hence the term sideslip) gives you a nice, stable platform with big brakes to use. It'll feel weird at first and quite jerky - you'll probably fall over a few times, or alternate between spurts of speed and quick slams of the brakes, but gradually it will smooth out as you get your balance and learn to make small, subtle movements to control the speed. The instructor will help you down for the first run so you'll be able to concentrate on finding the right position and a comfortable speed. Most people are okay to go on their own after that point, but some need a little extra help. We all learn at different rates so some people will click straight away, others take a little longer - but everyone gets it with practice. If you find it awkward, have a laugh, take a deep breath and try again. As you relax and get used to it, the slope will feel less steep, the brain and body will become more coordinated and you'll relax - as you relax, snowboarding becomes easier to do.
Take it nice and slow - it's easy to be a little aggressive with nerves or let the board pick up speed, and frustration can easily set in. Take a break, take some calming breaths and keep practising. If you're stuck, don't be afraid to ask the instructor for help - we're here to make sure you have fun and learn and it can be quite busy on the first lesson so we might be dealing with a few people at a time.
Be aware of you own comfort. You might pick up some bruises, get snow down your trousers (yuk!), find your gloves are getting cold and wet or your feet might be aching. Learning when you're unhappy or uncomfortable isn't easy because you'll be distracted. Ask your instructor for advice or help - you might be able to swap gloves, get a replacement board or be given help in tightening up your laces. If you're tired, thirsty or need the toilet, again let the instructor know. Whatever you do, don't wander off without letting someone know as instructors need to be aware of where everyone is in case of an emergency. Gosh, it's like being back at school!
Once you're comfy moving down the slope, the instructor will begin to show you how to change the way you stand on the board to start moving left and right across the slope while you slide downwards. This gives a diagonal, zig-zag pattern and teaches you to control things like drift (slopes aren't entirely smooth) and navigate around people and obstacles on the slope. Again, the board will remain pointing across the slope as you move downwards so you have those big brakes to control speed.
Whatever you do, don't compare yourself to other people on your lesson. Some people have great balance, others have skateboarded or pick things up very quickly. Others might look impressive as they whizz down the slope, but the reality is that their quick speed is masking an inability to stop. The only person you need to compare yourself with is yourself - how did that run feel to the last one? What did you do right? What did you need to be more aware of?
The early lessons are all about learning to balance, controlling speed and some basic navigation - no racing, no tricks, no pointing down the hill and praying, just a solid foundation you can take with you to your next lesson.
The first lesson will fly by. You'll just be getting into a flow with your new skills, when the instructor will announce that it's the last run of the lesson. Resist the urge to do something rash, make that last run super-smooth and give a little whoop of congratulations at the end.
The instructor will finish off with a simple debrief on how everyone did, either as a group or perhaps individually as people finish their last run. You'll be given a little information on what your next step is. Most people will move on up to the next level, but don't be disappointed if you're asked to repeat something again next time. Different people learn at different rates, and the first couple of lessons can be quite tricky as you get to grips with all the different aspects of snowboarding - the balance, the movement, the slope, the equipment. It can be quite a bit to take in on one lesson - but you'll be surprised how quickly things click into place after a bit of a rest and a return to something you've already had a go at. A little bit of investment in the early stages will pay out big time in the later parts, so take as long as you need to give yourself the right stepping stones on your journey into the world of snowboarding.
I hope that has given you a glimpse into your first lesson and calmed some of the fears you might have about snowboarding. Good luck - enjoy your first lesson, don't take it too seriously and make friends with those in your group.
Who knows? One day it might be you teaching a group of beginners!
Part 1 was first published on powderroom.net which is always worth checking out if you're a girl in to snowboarding.
Part 2 - Board Basics
In my last article, I covered the experience of your first lesson - why you should take lessons, what you will need and what you can expect to be doing. What I'm going to do now is, over the next few articles, cover a typical lesson plan. I say typical because snowboard instructing is relatively new compared to skiing and is evolving at a rapid pace, which means various countries have their own ways of teaching. The basics will be similar, but you might find some subtle variations from what I will describe. That's fine, so don't worry if what I write here is slightly different to your own experience.
These articles are not intended to be a substitute for lessons. I can't emphasis that enough - no book, article or video can replace a good instructor because there are so many things they cannot provide - alternative explanations, feedback, handy hints and tips, encouragement and analysis. My aim is to give you a little bit of background knowledge before your lesson, and a refresher once you've taken it.
Okay, so enough of the waffle, let's start at the beginning: the board.
Hopefully you have a snowboard in front of you. In essence, it's a plank of wood with a couple of things to attach your feet to it, called bindings.
Flip the board over to reveal the side which is smooth and doesn't have anything attached like stickers or bindings. This is, obviously, the base and we try to keep this nice and smooth and waxed, which helps it slide easily over snow. This is our accelerator. The more of this in contact with the snow, the faster we go.
Now, if we have an accelerator, it's natural to assume we must have a set of brakes, right? Well, luckily we do. Still with the base facing you, take a look at the edges of the board - you'll see a thin metal edge running all the way around the board. This metal edge provides a bit of "bite" into the snow, and we actually tend to refer to this as being two edges, or two brakes.
The two edges are called the heelside edge and the toeside edge. Figuring out which is which is pretty easy. Flip the board over so the top of the board (with the bindings) is now facing you. The bindings will be oriented so your feet will mostly point towards the long edges of the board i.e. your feet will not be pointing directly down the middle of the board. The edge your toes point to is called the toeside edge, or toeside brake, and the one your heels point to is called the heelside edge.
The accelerator and brakes are what we'll look at during the early lessons so we can start the board moving, stop the board and vary our speed as we move down the slope. We'll look at that in the next article.
Finally, the bindings. With a wide variety of bindings on the market these days, they can be a lesson in themselves. Broadly speaking, there are three types: straps, step-ins and Flows.
Straps are the most commonly found, although many rental shops in resorts won't offer them by default. They're good general purposes bindings and suitably comfy and adjustable. Looking at a typical strap binding, you'll find a couple of straps and a movable piece of plastic that can stick upright. That piece of plastic is called a highback and provides some assistance when we're using the heelside brake - don't worry about it for now, all you need to know is that it should be flipped upright before you use the binding.
The smaller, bottom strap is called the toe strap and will go over the toes to secure them to the binding. The bigger top strap is called the heel or ankle strap and does the same job to keep your ankle locked in place. Each strap works the same way - there's a flat, toothed part on one side and a similar part on the other side which has a ratchet-like attachment. You'll find a gap on this attachment which the other strap goes through - feed it in until you hear a few clicks. You can now tighten the strap by using the ratchet - you'll hear clicking as you tighten it. On the ratchet is usually a button or lever you can flick up and away to release the strap. This is one of the areas where an article or video can never be a replacement for an instructor you can grab for help.
Step-ins have no straps and normally no highback, just a plate attached to the board and a metal bar or studs on the base of the boot. You align the boot with the plate and the bar/studs with their counterparts on the plate and stamp hard to lock the boot in place. There's a lever on the plate that can be used to release the boot. Many people swear by step-ins for ease of use, rental shops love their low-maintenance, but I find they can be a little awkward for beginners and do have a habit of icing up - make sure the base of the boot and the plate are both free of ice before you try to lock them in place.
Flows are an attempt to combine the quickness of step-ins with the support of straps. Basically you have a large slipper-like binding with a highback that pulls down so you can slot your foot in. Bring the highback back up to lock the Flow system for use.
I will assume straps for the rest of this article - Flow and step-in users shouldn't have any problem adjusting as they will have less to fiddle with.
Now we've had a brief look at the board, it's time to strap in for the first time. Instructors will find a suitably flat and open area to do this.
Now hands up who remembers what foot they are? If you've surfed, skateboarded, wakeboarded or done any other kind of board sport, you might have a pretty good idea what your foot is - so stick with that for now. For us mere mortals, this can be something we've never needed to know. For now, don't worry. If the rental guys made you do some weird tests and then declared you Regular or Goofy, stick with that. If you can't remember, pick any foot for now. It really doesn't matter for the first few lessons - we'll find out as we go along.
Being a sideways sport, snowboarders have a preference for which foot they prefer to lead down the mountain with. I'm Regular, which means I lead with my left foot. My brother is Goofy, which means he leads with his right foot. I have it on good authority from a surfer that originally right-footers were called un-natural riders. Not being terribly pleased with this, they decided to name themselves after the Disney character Goofy, who had been drawn riding a surfboard right-foot forward. From personal experience, about half the world is Regular, half Goofy. We'll come back to this undoubtedly fascinating subject in a later article.
Okay, so having chosen a foot preference, this will be our lead or front foot. Place the board base-down in front of you, with those highbacks nearest to you. Clear out the binding for the front foot - undo the straps, flip up the highback and make sure it's ready to put your foot in. Now take your back foot and pinch the board to the ground - place the foot half-on, half-off the board at a point on the heel edge between the two bindings. This stops the board from sliding away from you when strapping in.
Now place your front foot in the front binding. Make sure it's flat on the base of the binding, pressed up against the highback, and fits comfortably. Do the heel strap up first, then the toe strap - this helps keeps the foot back in the binding. You want the straps done up to a snug tightness - too loose and the boot will move around, too tight and you cut off circulation in the foot, which is painful.
When strapped in, place your back foot behind the board and lift up the board. Give it a bit of a waggle. Clumsy, huh? It can feel like a lead weight strapped to your feet to begin with, but as you do the lessons, it will feel more comfortable and less bulky.
Keeping the base flat on the ground, back foot behind you still, give the board a little bit of a slide away from you, and then back towards you. Being smooth, the base moves quite easily even when flat on the ground - that's the accelerator in action.
So time to look at those brakes. Lift your toes up, but keep the heel edge on the ground. This puts us on what is called the heel edge brake. Keeping the heel dug in the ground, try giving the board a little push. The board doesn't move so easily now - the bite of that edge prevents it from sliding easily, if at all.
Put the base flat again, step over the board so the back foot is in front of the board and lift the heels up this time. You are now on the toe edge brake. Repeat the last exercise, but with the toes dug into the ground and you'll find the same thing - there's a bit of resistance when you try to slide. That's the toe edge brake in action.
We'll look at using these brakes, as well as the accelerator, in the next article.
The Basic Stance
So now we know a bit about the board, how it works and how we strap in one foot. Time to take a look at how we actually stand on a board. Clear out the back binding and just place your back foot in - don't worry about strapping in, just place the foot in the binding.
In snowboarding, we normally adopt a nice, relaxed, balanced stance on the board called various names - the basic stance, the neutral position, the middle position. Don't worry too much about the name, it's the stance that is important as it gives us a solid, comfortable foundation from which we can tackle the various movements needed to control a snowboard. If you ever have problems during a lesson, think back to the basic stance and compare what's going on - are you relaxed and balanced?
Working from top to bottom, let's start with the head. Always keep the head up. It's very tempting to look down to see what the body is doing, but you can feel what the body is doing - all that happens is you'll slouch or lean over and lose balance. Keep the head up, so the body is upright and you can see everything around you.
The shoulders stay in line with the board. You don't need to twist the body, as this can cause the board to move around as you unwind on the slippery surface, or it can cause your weight to shift out of balance. So keep the shoulders in line with the board - move your head if you need to look around, not the shoulders.
Our arms stay nice and relaxed by our sides. Avoid flailing around, which is a natural reaction if we're trying to stay balanced - it doesn't work the same way when on a board sliding down a slope. So keep the arms nice and relaxed by your sides - if they begin to develop a life of their own, grab the bottom of your jacket or hoody to stop them from moving around.
We keep our back nice and straight and upright, so our weight is over the board, our body centred over the board. It's quite easy to slouch or even bend right over at the waist when we get a little panicky - resist the urge to do this as it can make us unbalanced and thus it's more difficult to ride. So, be confident and upright.
Bring your hips forwards a little, so they're over your knees and toes. This puts us in a bit of a curved shape, with a little weight above the toe edge for balance.
Finally, relax into the fronts of your boots so you're flexed at the knees and ankles, knees apart. Having this flex gives us two main abilities. First, the flex gives us some natural suspension to help deal with bumps. Secondly, it provides a way for us to control the brakes... which is what we'll look at next time.
The Next Lesson
For the next article, I'll introduce you properly to the brakes. We'll take a look at how to start the board moving, and (more importantly) slow or stop the board as necessary. In addition, we'll take a look at progressing to some basic slope navigation.
So until next time, thank you for reading and I hope this article has been of some use - good luck with your lesson!
Part 3 - Sideslipping and Diagonals : The Toe Edge
Okay so I left you on a bit of a cliff-hanger. I mentioned that when standing in the basic stance, we can rise up and sink down to activate the accelerator and brakes. But I didn't go into more detail, so now let's take a look...
Brakes and Accelerators
Standing on your board in the basic stance, start sinking down into the fronts of your boots - keep the hips forward and the back nice and straight and upright. Keep sinking down and feel what your heels are doing. Did you find they rose up? If you sank down far enough, you might even have found your board rising up onto the toe edge too much and you lost balance. Compare that to when we took a look at the toe edge brake with one foot strapped in - we found the brake was on when we were on that edge. So that's how we use the toe brake - we sink down into the fronts of our boots and our heels will rise up naturally to put the brake on.
Now if we start to stand up slowly, back to the position we were originally in, we discover that the heel will come down naturally - as that happens, more of the board comes into contact with the ground and thus more of our accelerator is in use. When we're on a slope, this makes us pick up speed.
So to recap: sink down into the fronts of your boots causes the toe brake to activate, rising up takes the brake off.
Time to try that on a slope.
The sideslip is the first thing you will learn on a board as it's the foundation for everything that comes later - it teaches you how to start the board moving and, more importantly, stop or slow the board down. It's important to do this on a suitable slope - just the right gradient and not too crowded. I can't emphasise enough that you should attempt this on an organised lesson with a qualified instructor - it will pay dividends as you will discover.
I'm going to look at what's called a toeside sideslip first as it's normally the first one taught in the UK. You might find elsewhere will teach the heelside version first. There's no right or wrong one to begin with, both are equally valid but I must admit I find it easier to get people onto their toes first. Don't worry - we'll cover the heelside later!
Now the observant amongst you will have realised that when we were practising our toe brake, the toes are planted in the snow and our heels move. Now, if we were to attempt to face down the slope and put our toes into the snow, we'd quickly find ourselves plungin face first into the ground. So we actually need to be looking up the slope to do this. Don't be alarmed! It's not as scary as you would think - although I still remember the terror of doing this for the first time all those years ago.
Okay, so step one is to get ourselves into a standing position, looking up the slope. Normally, people will begin in a sitting position, looking down the slope so I'll assume you're also in that position to begin with. Take one end of the board, it doesn't matter which, and turn yourself so that end is now pointing up the slope. Using your uphill hand, grab the back of your uphill knee and use this to pull yourself over. When I first learnt this it was called the "Rock N' Roll Over" - you rock yourself and use the movement to roll yourself over - the aim is to find your board pointing across the slope, your toes and knees in the snow and your head looking up the slope. There's no elegant way to do this for now, so don't worry if you feel a bit foolish.
Next, use your hands to "walk" yourself into an upright position. Usually your instructor will be on hand to give some help with this as it can be tricky the first time. Bring yourself up, taking care to keep the heels up, bum/hips forward and generally in the basic stance. Don't forget to keep looking up! If you are in the basic stance, sunk into the fronts of your boots, heels up then you'll have the toe edge brake engaged and you won't go anywhere. You'll be nicely balanced on the balls of your feet and ready to start. A lot of people don't get this straight away, so don't worry too much - you'll find that nice balancing point soon enough, especially if you have an instructor holding you for that first go.
When you're happy being stationary, it's time to put a spanner in the works. Smoothly, slowly, subtly rise up a little bit so your heels drop a little bit - brakes comes off and accelerator comes on. You will start to slide down the slope. Eek! Now gently sink into the fronts of the boots again to put the brakes on. Did you feel that? It was probably quite jerky - you rose up a little, the board picked up speed really quickly and then the brain went into panic mode and you might've fallen over or slammed the brakes on too quickly. That's okay, because it's a weird sensation and very new to you - neither the brain nor the body were quite sure what to expect or how to handle it. But the good news is, you've gained a little experience.
So try it again, rise up very gently until you start moving down the slope. Now gently apply the brakes. You really don't need a lot of movement to start, or a lot of movement to stop. Just keep it nice and relaxed, nice and slow, and take it at your own pace. If you fall, have a laugh about it, brush off the snow and have another go - it's all about practice. When you reach the bottom of the slope, give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back and try it again. You'll probably find the first run is sketchy and you'll fall a lot or go shooting off in all directions. That's because the brain and body are trying to deal with a lot of information in one go - it's all very new and unfamiliar. On the second run, you have a better idea of what it feels like so you'll find it more comfortable - maybe you'll be a bit smoother, maybe you'll be happier going a little quicker, maybe you'll make it without falling over.
Keep remembering the basic stance and perform a little self-check if you don't feel comfortable. Big things to look out for are looking down, sticking your bum out backwards, or flapping your arms around a lot. If you look down, the brain tells the body that's where it needs to be - you'll slouch over, pushing your weight forward, and then find yourself examining the snow more closely. Remember to keep upright, weight over the board, head up so you're nice and balanced. Similarly, sticking your bum out backwards shifts the weight down the hill - you'll either topple backwards and fall over or you'll push the heels down too far and they'll end up stuck in the snow... and you'll fall backwards. Oops! So remember to keep looking up, back nice and upright, hips forward just as you did when standing on the board on the flat.
Of course, sticking weight back and forward isn't the only problem. If we twist our shoulders to look down the slope behind us, our body tries to unwind and the board will end up following our shoulders - the result is that the board points a little downhill and we pick up speed quickly. Worse, our brakes won't work properly as they can't dig into the snow correctly. So keep looking up the slope, shoulders in line with the board. If you need to check behind you, just come to a stop and take a quick peek over both shoulders, then start moving again.
As well as twisting our shoulders, another thing we tend to do is flail our arms around to try and balance ourselves. This works okay on flat ground, but on a slope it can have the opposite effect and make things worse. If we swing our arms, and thus our shoulders, the board swishes around underneath us and we end up fighting the board - we might even swing the board so it points a little downhill, just as I mentioned happens when we twist our shoulders. When we do that, bad things happen. To keep rogue hands under control, simply grab the bottom of your jacket - trust me, you don't need the arms to stay balanced, just remember that basic stance.
Now as you repeat the sideslip exercise, you might also find something else is happening - drift. We don't always slide perfectly straight down the slope. Why is that? Well, one reason is that slopes are often not entirely flat and uniform - there could be little bumps or the slope might not be entirely level, all of which causes us to drift off course. However, the main cause is because we aren't entirely centred over the board - we might be shifting our weight to our left or right. Our natural instinct is to correct by shifting our weight in the opposite direction, but this can often make the situation worse. Yikes! So try and keep yourself centred on the board, making sure your legs work in unison.
When you have the hang of sliding down the slope and you feel comfortable controlling your speed, it's time to take a further look at that drift.
I mentioned that if you're not centred, that is if you have your weight leaning to one side or the other, you start to drift. I also said that trying to correct by shifting your weight in the opposite direction doesn't work well. We're going to look at this in more detail and have a go at initiating drift and then bringing that drift under control. All we're going to do is take our new-found sideslipping skills and add a little bit extra.
Get yourself into a nice sideslip as before, moving at a comfortable pace, and then pick a direction. Obviously try and pick the direction that gives you plenty of room so you might want to make sure you start from a suitable position at the top of the slope. If, say, you want to drift left, look in that direction with your head (keeping shoulders in line with the board as before) point left and then move your weight in the direction you wish to go - shoulders, hips and knees all need to move left, along the length of the board.
Provided you are moving along the length of the board and not twisting yourself downhill, you will travel at a constant speed diagonally across the slope. Hold the position until you want to stop, then look back up the slope, move your body back to the centre position you used for the sideslipping, arms by your side and then use your brakes to come to a halt. The aim is to keep the board pointed along the slope, producing a nice and smeary diagonal track in the snow.
One common problem is that the brain goes into panic mode and tries to react in a way we find natural off the slope: we lean backwards to counteract ourselves "falling over". If you lean backwards, you put the weight on the opposite end of the board but it doesn't counteract the movement - instead, you push the leading end of the board up into the air and the board whips out from underneath you. Impressive to others, but uncomfortable for you. Make sure you keep your weight committed in the direction you want to travel until you want to stop - then bring yourself back to the centre of the board. Don't try changing directions until you have stopped, or you'll find the board whipping out underneath you.
Also, be aware then when travelling diagonally, the toe edge brake is unable to work properly. When you travel down the slope, the edge has a lot of "bite" and thus a lot of braking action downwards. It still works this way when going diagonally, but only for downwards movement - it doesn't brake the sideways motion at all, in fact it can make things move faster! Instead, you control that sideways movement through your weight - lean into the direction you want to go to move sideways, move back to the middle to stop the sideways movement.
Once you've had a few goes, stop pointing your arm in the direction you want to go. Point with your shoulders instead, moving shoulders, hips and knees along the board in the direction you want to move. Make sure you keep the hips forward, head up looking in the correct direction or you'll be misbalanced and that will make things more difficult. If you find your hands moving around to balance yourself, use the trick of holding the bottom of your jacket as before.
When you're feeling more confident, try to hold the diagonal for longer to use the full width of the slope available and try varying the amount of weight shift - see how changing the amount of lean affects your movement across the slope.
Congratulations - that's the toe edge mastered!
Okay, so we started off by looking at how sinking into our boots when in the basic stance puts on the brakes. When we stand up a little, the brakes come off and the board begins to accelerate. It doesn't take long before we realised how small and subtle the movements need to be - it doesn't take a lot to get the board moving, nor does it take much effort to bring it to a halt. We also noticed that things work well when we use the basic stance, as discussed in the previous article. If we're relaxed and balanced on the board things work nice and controlled, but if we're hunched or twisted or sticking our bum out or flailing our arms around we end up fighting the board and lose control. It can take time to find that balanced position and relax because it's all very new to us - but it does happen eventually.
We also discovered we can start to move the board diagonally across the slope by shifting our weight. That's something we'll find very useful later on when we begin to take a look at turning, but it's also a handy little thing to know anyway because we can use it to do some basic slope navigation to avoid bumps, obstacles, other slope users or just do something a little more interesting than slide straight backwards.
In the next article, we'll flip things around and take a look at the heel edge. It's fairly similar, but with some subtle differences that we'll have a look at. In the meantime, have a think about what might be different when you are balanced on the heels not the toes, and looking down the slope when you move.
Part 4 - Sideslipping and Diagonals : The Heel Edge
Last time we looked at our toeside edge, sliding down the slope backwards while looking up the slope. It felt quite weird to begin with, but eventually we got used to the movements involved and started to relax. From there we introduced some sideways movement, zig-zagging down the slope as we went.
For this article, I'm going to show you the heel edge and the finish off with something else that's pretty cool. We've actually covered the bulk of the skills required already when learning the toeside, so we can take our newly discovered bag of tricks and apply them with some minor changes. Don't worry if you were still having a few problems on your toes - you might find heelside easier. You might also discover that in adapting your experience to heels, your toeside will improve when you return to it for some further practice.
Anyway, enough of the waffle, let's get to business...
At the end of the last article, I asked you to have a think about the differences between sliding on your toe edge and sliding on your heel edge. Ignoring the fact you can see where you're going now, one important difference is your stance. We want to be balanced on our heel edge now, not our toes. If we stand on a slope, looking towards the bottom, and try to stand as we did before with our hips forward we'll find this causes us to lose balance and fall down the slope.
The best description I've heard yet for the position we need to be in is the "festival toilet" or "dirty toilet" position - a relaxed, slightly squatting position. If you're a seasoned veteran of a rock festival or you've been camping in various unsavoury locations, you'll know what I mean.
Your hips are now over the heels, still with your head up, back nice and straight, weight balanced on the heel edge. Keep your hands over the board if you can. Since our heels are in contact with the snow, it's our toes that are free to move now - as we rise up, the toes will drop very slightly to start us moving. Sinking down very gently brings the toes back up slightly to apply the brakes - to help with this we have things called highbacks which can be found at the back of strap and Flow bindings (and some step-ins too, but don't worry if you don't have them on yours). By applying a small bit of pressure to the highbacks, we can help lift our toes up to put on the brakes. As with most things when learning to snowboard, remember that it's all about very small, subtle movements. If you jerk backwards, you'll probably lose balance. Keep it smooth.
Have a practice without the board on first. Stand looking down the slope, take the basic stance and adapt it to be slightly squatting, weight balanced over the heel edge. Have a go at the rising and sinking motions, feeling how they affect your feet and balance.
When you're ready, strap in and make sure you're sitting looking down the slope before you begin.
Now comes the first hurdle - getting up! A lot of people really struggle to get into a standing position on their heel edge. Many can get it after various amounts of practice, but don't be alarmed if it's a big struggle or you believe you just can't do it. It's not that important in the scheme of things and we'll discover that eventually you will only need to be able to get up one way. Just persevere for now, and ask for help from your instructor.
The best way I find is to shuffle your bum as close to your board as you can, then take one hand and grab the toe edge of the board midway between the bindings. Use your remaining hand behind you to gently ease yourself into a standing position, remembering to keep your toes up, weight over the board. Be careful about twisting your body as this can often cause you to start sliding down the slope before you've stood up! It might take a few attempts. You can also use your snowboard to push the snow to make a flatter platform underneath you to get up on.
Once you're up, the procedure is pretty much the same as we found on our toes. Gently rising up applies the accelerator, gently sinking down applies the brakes. One thing you might find is trying to maintain the right stance - our brain will be so used to doing this on the toe edge that you might find yourself instinctively pushing your hips out so they're over your toes... and then things all go horribly wrong. Remember: think toilet.
I personally find the heel edge can be a little less forgiving than toeside, but other people's opinions differ. Keep yourself nice and relaxed and use small, subtle movements - bring yourself to a halt gradually, and then gently rise up to apply the accelerator and start moving again.
When you're feeling happy with the heel edge sideslip, we can introduce some diagonal. Again the principle is exactly the same as on our toes - we add a little weight shift to our sideslip. Look in the direction we want to go, point and lean with the shoulders, hips and knees along the board and then discover that it all works much the same way as it did in the first lesson. Once we have our stance, and thus our balance, on the heel edge under control, the principles for sideslipping and diagonals are the same.
Once you have the hang of the heels, go back to the toes and practice them again. Alternate edges for each run to make sure it all feels smooth both ways. When you're happy going both ways, it's time to take a look at something new...
Okay, so you've probably thought at least once during the lesson "sure, this is fun but I never see pros going sideways on a board, I want to go down the hill!". Now we have a good foundation of skills under our belts, things like balance, stance, edge control, we can have a look at the next part of snowboarding: steering.
Different countries teach steering in different ways, so don't worry if this doesn't quite match what you learn on lessons. In the UK and a few other countries, we teach a technique called foot steering. When I was teaching in Australia, the Aussies (like many other countries) use their hips. There's no right or wrong, but I find foot steering easy to introduce and it's the technique I teach in the UK so I will use it here. If you've learnt another way, give it a go and see what you think - you might spot some similarities.
First, let's look at the board. Strap in both feet and sit down on the ground. Look at the board between the two sets of bindings and waggle your feet - push the toes down on one foot and pull the toes up on the other. Now do the opposite. Keep doing it and look at the board - it flexes, twists, in the middle. What use is that? Well, we're going to introduce that movement to our diagonals and see what happens.
I usually recommend starting on your toes and go into a gentle sideslip. When comfy, pick a direction and begin a diagonal. Now it's time to introduce the flex - if you're going left, I want you to very, very gently push your left heel down very, very slightly. When you push the left heel down very slightly, the board will start to turn down the hill. Eeek. As soon as it starts to turn, chicken out! Bring the heel back up and that will stop the turning movement and return you to a sideslip. You can then come back to the middle of the board and use the brakes.
Okay, what happened? If all went well, you applied the accelerator more to the left half of the board than the other, which caused the board to begin turning. As you point the board more down the hill, you pick up more speed as gravity does its work. That's why I asked you to try it very, very gently and to chicken out as soon as something started to happen. If you pushed a bit too much, the sudden rush of speed causes the brain to panic and instinct kicks in. Unfortunately, instinct tells the body that it is falling down the slope and we try to correct by leaning back up the slope. As you might've noticed when doing the diagonals if, say, you lean right when travelling left you end up pushing the board away from you and you go even faster to the left - but with less control. Crash! The same happens when we point down the hill - if we lean back, we push the board away from us and we go faster but with less control. This can have unfortunate side-effects.
Keep your weight on the foot that is doing the steering. If you're going left, use the left foot and keep your weight on the left. When going right, use the right foot, weight to the right. Be nice and committed, nice and relaxed for maximum control of the board. Again, small, subtle movements to begin with - allow the brain and body to adjust to the sensation and realise that it's okay to put your weight a little down the hill. Come across, start to turn, chicken out. Take care and note that you can't use the brakes until you've stopped turning and come back into a sideslip.
Give it a few goes and then when you're feeling more comfortable with the process, start to play around with the movements. If you apply a bit more pressure than before to your heel, you'll find the turn happens a lot faster and the curve you make in the snow is a bit tighter. You can also keep the same gentle push but hold it for longer, though taking care not to hold it for so long that you end up pointing directly down hill - we'll leave that for the next lesson.
Now take this new skill and apply it to the heel edge. Flip around and get into a comfortable heelside sideslip. When you're ready, push very, very gently on your little toe to begin the turning motion, then bring it back up to chicken out. Some people find this a little more tricky, so make sure you keep your knees apart, weight committed on the leading foot each time until you've brought yourself back into a diagonal.
Firstly, we took our skills from the last lesson and applied them to our heel edge. This brought us to a pretty good level of knowledge and experience - we can apply either sets of brakes (toes or heels), we can use our accelerator, and we can also adapt our body positioning to shift weight tip and tail on the board to generate diagonal movements. This is a basic set of techniques we can use to happily navigate around slopes, although it doesn't quite make us look like the people we see on snowboard films or in the magazines (but trust me, they do use these techniques). We were just missing the final part of the equation, which is what we started to take a look at with the foot steering: turns.
The last set of exercises, flexing the board when doing toeside and heelside diagonals, gave us a new range of movement - we could now begin to start pointing the board a little downhill, and then recover the board from the embarrassment of shooting off out of control. We're going to look at this in more detail in the next article, as well as come back to the subject of "Regular or Goofy?" which we briefly mentioned early in the series.
For homework, have a think about that last question. Which foot felt most comfortable leading - was it your left or your right?
Part 5 - Turns
So I left you with a question last time. Which foot felt most comfortable leading? When doing the diagonals or the foot steering exercises, one foot probably felt more comfortable leading than the other. This is your lead, or dominant, foot. I ride Regular, which means I lead with my left foot. My brother is right footed, which is termed Goofy. From experience, the split is about 50/50 Regular/Goofy.
Don't worry too much if both felt as good (or bad!) as each other, not everyone can decide straight away. If you're still undecided by the time you reach this stage of the lessons, pick a foot and give it a go for a couple of runs and then try the other. The eventual aim is to pick your lead foot and stick with it. Until this point we've tried things both ways, now it's time to specialise. It makes things a bit easier at this point.
The Basic Turn
We're going to take the skills we've learnt in previous lessons and take them into a basic turn. So far we've done each run using just one edge, but when you see people riding snowboards off the lesson slopes you'll realise they're changing from toes to heels, heels to toes, toes to heels all the way down the slope. This helps them to control their speed and direction - not to mention prevent one set of muscles getting worn out! We're going to learn to change from one edge to another using what's called a basic turn.
Thinking back to the previous article, we finished up with foot steering - we learnt to begin steering the board slightly down the slope and then "chickening out" halfway through. All we're going to do is take that skill, but ignore the chickening out part and allow the board to carry on all the way around.
The first step is to get yourself into the position you were in for one of the sideslip manoeuvres - on an edge, board across the slope, in the basic stance. I usually suggest starting on your toes, looking up the slope, but there's nothing to stop you from starting on your heels if you prefer that way. If you're left footed, make sure you have plenty of space to your left as you'll be moving in that direction to begin with and there's nothing worse than finding out halfway through a turn that you have a rapidly approaching lift, barrier or trench in your way. Right footed riders need to ensure their right hand side is clear.
Check up the slope to ensure there is no traffic coming towards you and then check down the slope to make sure it's clear there too. Now, rise up as we did for the sideslip and get into a gentle walking pace down the slope. If you're Regular, look left and begin a gentle diagonal left. Goofy riders, you go into a diagonal to your right. As soon as we start our diagonal, it's time to introduce our foot steering - I'll assume you're on your toes for this, but we'll cover the heels shortly...
Okay, so you're in a diagonal, now push the heel very, very slightly on your leading foot as you did with the foot steering exercise. The board begins to turn down the slope. However, we don't chicken out at this point, we keep our weight committed on the lead foot and hold the position. As the board points more and more towards the most direct path down the slope (the "fall-line") the board picks up speed. Don't panic! If all goes well, we won't be picking up speed for long - just keep yourself nice and committed, nice and relaxed and hold everything. Eventually you will cross the fall-line and at that point the board will change from the toe edge to the heel edge.
Keep committed and the board will come all the way around and you'll find yourself travelling across the slope on your heels. Give yourself a cheer as you've just completed your first turn on a snowboard! Look down the slope, come back to the middle position on the board and then use those brakes to stop yourself. Its important to stop yourself for the first few turns as it gives the body and mind time to recover from the situation, and it also stops you from spinning around at the end of the turn.
How was that?
After completing the turn you should have followed a C-shape, slightly skidded to help keep the speed under control.
Now you're on your heels, rise up and start moving diagonally again - left if Regular, right if Goofy and then use the toes for steering. Push on the little toe to begin the turn. Hold it, keep the weight committed and as with the toe to heel turn, you will cross the fall-line and change back to the toe edge. Look up the slope, come back to the middle of the board and sink down to use the brakes. The two basic turns will have formed an S-shape.
Hints and Tips
One common problem is to find yourself stuck when pointing directly down the slope. Fear and panic sets in and the brain thinks it's falling over down the hill - so it yanks the body back up the slope. As we have learnt already, this just pushes the board away from us i.e. faster down the slope. This makes the situation much worse and eventually everything goes horribly wrong. If you find yourself stuck, be aware of where the body is - you'll probably find yourself leaning backwards, in which case no amount of foot steering is going to bring you back into control.
Another thing to be aware of is slouching either because you're looking down at the snow or the board, or because you're adopting the "if I just hug the snow, I'll have less far to fall" position. Again, these cause you to be misbalanced and will ultimately cause you to fight the board and probably lose. Keep your head up, remembering the basic stance we learnt way back at the beginning of the lessons.
Finally, when you've changed edges, make sure you're in the correct stance for the new edge. It can be weird to begin with going from one edge to the other and switching to the appropriate stance - hips forward on the toes, hips back over the heels on the heel edge, but relax and it will happen naturally. The body is pretty good at balancing when relaxed, and we've already trained it to know the best position for each edge.
Once we've mastered the art of basic turns, turning and stopping each time, we're ready to link up each turn and get ourselves into a flow, a rhythm. Linked turns are a bit more stylish and as we progress our snowboarding careers, we'll find that flowing from one turn to another has many advantages - including reducing the effort required to make turns or control our movement around the mountain.
To link each turn, all we do is remove the stop after completing a turn. Make a basic turn, sinking down to control the downwards speed, but keep the weight committed on the leading foot so we move across the slope a little bit ("traverse"). Think S shapes, rather than C shapes. It'll seem a little weird at first and you might come to a halt a few times or carry on across the slope until you run out of room to turn. Don't worry, just relax and try and get into a flow - turn, traverse, turn, traverse, turn. Leave yourself plenty of room for each turn, allowing each turn to happen at a natural pace - it's easy to force the turns a bit or not finish them off correctly so you either pick up speed or drift into a badly balanced posture. If things don't feel right, simply apply the brakes and get yourself into the right position to begin again - don't carry the effects of a bad turn into another one!
As far as basic snowboarding skills go, this wraps up the basic techniques required to move around the slopes safely and, hopefully, stylishly. You're now a fully fledged snowboarder waiting to build up your slope experience by practising the skills learnt.
However, we're missing a few other things which I will discuss in coming articles. The most important exception is the use of lifts - chair lifts, Pomas and T-Bars all have their own quirks and pitfalls for snowboarders so I will go through those in the next article. I'll also take a look at some slope safety and etiquette issues which I've skimped on during the previous articles for the sake of focus. Finally, we'll take a look at moving beyond the basic linked turns into slightly more advanced territory.