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Snowboarding for Geeks (xfive.co)
299 points by lubos76 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 216 comments



Snowboarding absolutely is as fun as it looks, but don't underestimate how much it's going to hurt the day after. I've gone nearly a dozen times and I still end up bruised by the end of the day. Admittedly, I'm a bit clumsier than most, but I've never collided with another human being at least.

Also, I was surprised that the article didn't mention the one aspect that I actually found way harder than anything else to learn do reliably: going from sitting to standing on the board with your feet strapped in is HARD. I thought it was something I'd be able to learn through technique since I'm mostly in shape from a cardio perspective, but I just don't have the core strength to get up the proper way.

While I absolutely could never once manage to get up with my heels dug into the snow, I can easily get up from my toes. It sort of stinks though because I'm never facing downhill when I first get up, so I can't really see great downhill, but at least I know when people are coming behind me.

The obvious solution to the standing problem is just to fall less, but I haven't quite figured that out. So instead I've tried to do more lunges when I exercise. Probably won't be enough though.


I didn't see this mentioned, but as advice for getting up and operating on a snowboard in general: practice learning how to rock back on forth, leaning into the nose and tail and bending it. Don't worry, any snowboard worth it's weight will support you.

You can use this technique to help you stand up from sitting on flat. Simply bend your back leg and bring your tail (or nose if you want to start in switch) closer to a riding position, and push your Central weight onto that side of the board. The board should flex, as you'd be doing a sort of manual as you stand up. Balancing like this might be difficult at first, but the technique is better than trying to stand up without using the board's flexible property.

Likewise, butter tricks are very fun and can be useful for beginners.

Another example: if you get get stuck on flat and think you need to unbuckle and walk, try this: stand facing the direction you want to go, and start running while still in the bindings. Use your nose and tail's flexibility to help popup the opposite side, to swing forward and continue the cycle. It looks ridiculous until you realize you can make good distance on flat without much efforts or unbuckling.

Happy shredding.


The trick to sanding up on your heel edge is to throw one hand out in front of you for balance, and "walk" your other hand closer to the board as you stand up, keeping some weight on it as you go.

Kind of this: https://youtu.be/PRyQXSZfO0A?t=32

It takes practice, and it's about building muscles you have never used before!


I use two tricks to stand up on my board. I started with the hand out but that wasn't working too well for me because I still couldn't compress my hips. Now on heelside I grab with my front hand in the middle of my board like a mute-grab, then I use that as leverage to pull my hips in close to the board, then I stand up.

Alternatively I go toe-side and stand up super easily because its just like getting up off of your knees if you fell to your knees on the ground. I stand up on my toe-side about 95% of the time now.


> going from sitting to standing on the board with your feet strapped in is HARD

I was going to teach my girlfriend snowboarding. So we go up a hill with an easy lift. Once out we strapped the board, while sitting in the snow. I got up to get started. She did not get how to do that... and for me it was so natural that i could not understand the problem...

To sum up we survived a very severe crisis in our young relationship and she ended up taking lessons from a real teacher ;-)


I skateboarded regularly for approx. 15 years before my first snowboarding trip. I was certain that all my time on a skateboard would prepare me, and I'd pick it up easy. How wrong I was. Fell more times than I could count that day.


> I skateboarded regularly for approx. 15 years before my first snowboarding trip.

Same! I went for the first time earlier this year. I plopped around for about a half day, but by the end of the second day I was doing some easier blues without too much problems.

I think the one thing skateboarding helped most with was being comfortable riding sideways. Also backside powersliding (carving?) is one of the most amazing feelings on a snowboard.


Did you skateboard in hilly or flatter areas? We grew up skating on hills, so we often had to carve downhill slides, often at considerable speed. Transitioning to snowboarding seemed easy for us. I remember us snowboarding the first time and being able to do blue slopes within a couple hours. I’m guessing it was because we had already spent lots of time sliding down hills.


Yea, it can be a pain. Certainly you'll improve at it over time. While strength always helps, especially with getting tired, I do think this is primarily a balance/timing skill. That said, with experience a couple things also mitigate the annoyance.

* Stopping in locations that have a little extra slope makes standing back up easy. On the far edge of a cat-track, on top of a bump, etc.

* Keeping an eye on snow conditions. Soft snow or powder makes standing up on your heel edge difficult to impossible. If you arm just pushes straight down 2' into the snow, you aren't getting up that way. Sometimes when you fall in fresh snow, you'll need to refill a hole five times over to create a stable packed spot to push off of. Those are the good days :)

But basically, experienced riders will stand up in the appropriate way for the terrain, on toe or heel. From there, they'll hop a 180, make a turn, etc to get in the direction you want. Forcing yourself to stand up in the non-optimal direction is a lot of extra work.


Ideally when you are getting up (from either side) you don't need your arms at all.

When sitting (front side downhill) pull your heel side edge as close as possible to your butt (more knee bend, how close are your calves to your thighs?) Dig the edge in hard as if you were carving. Lean your chest forward between your legs, including arms downhill of the board, so you center of gravity is close to over the board. Now stand UP with your legs. It's actually about flexibility more than strength. Your legs will be plenty strong if you have the starting position right.

You can practice this by sitting on the floor at home (no board, boots, snow pants, perfectly level floor) and just stand up without using your hands.

One nice thing about this way of standing up - if you slip you fall on your butt again instead of jamming your hand / wrist / arm.


The reason it seems harder to get up on heel rather than toe edge is the center of gravity tends to stay over the board when using toe edge.

The reason why most beginners have trouble is their calves are weak (you may think they are strong, they are not)

The most serious problem for most beginners is not knowing how to fall down properly. Roll on your shoulders or belly flop. Do not jam arms out front or behind you. Your wrists will thank me.

The reason why beginners fall down a lot is a combination of two factors: 1) they go to slow making it harder to turn and 2) they fail to look where they want to go. Looking down at the snow, at trees or at other people usually results in some type of wreck.

If you want to get better, learn to do moguls.


I stand on my heels all the time, never thought this could be a burden to other people. Thank you for making me be grateful for things I did not know I was good at


It's easier to get back up by facing the ground and pushing up; instead of pushing up from a sitting position facing the descending slope. You need a lot of core strength and acclimation to higher altitudes if you want to do the later.

Misc

For beginners who are also skateboarders, you're used to turning and moving by pivoting on your foot behind you. In snowboarding (and surfing) it's the opposite foot, your front, that you pivot on.


> acclimation to higher altitudes

Is this really much of an issue? I'm sure altitude sickness can occur at some places like breckenridge, but even there most people seem to adjust within a day or two. Altitude over 4km is a different story, but don't think there's a single resort in the world at that height.

edit : ok I was wrong, there are at least 5 resorts with a peak over 4km across China, India and Bolivia. still think those are outliers :D


I've snowboarded for years and I still get up toe-side! It's way easier in general and also easier to keep my toe-side edge dug in so that I don't start sliding before I'm ready. It's been way too long since I've snowboarded anywhere, hope I can get out there at least once this season.


The secret to learning snowboarding is to wear HOCKEY PANTS. You might look ridiculous, but you look ridiculous anyway because you don't know how to snowboard. So add the hockey pants and save you bum. The confidence of protection will eliminate the fear of constantly falling.


Or get some Azzpadz https://azzpadz.com/ They're pretty comfortable. Used them for the first two years.

Also the wrist guards - save yourself an visit to the emergency.


Or learn instead how to fall down properly. Pain is also a great motivator to not fall down.


There's place and time for falling down properly. Then there are situations when you're learning and suddenly you're down. If it saves you a broken coxis or wrist, why wouldn't you do this? I guarantee it still hurts when you fall down.


Here’s a great tip - learn to strap up without sitting down.

Or, go to a steeper part before strapping up.


That definitely is useful, and I do usually end up doing that when I first get off the lift. The problem is more that when I fall on the hill, it's more difficult for me to unstrap a foot, stand, and strap it back in than it would be just to get up from my toes and turn. The upside to all this is I've actually got pretty decent at doing toe-to-heel turns quickly.


Absolutely. I'm fortunate enough to have had the opportunity once or twice to try it out in the Pacific NW area and was floored by how sore I was the day after.

Wish it was a more accessible sport in terms of economics.


You can get used gear pretty cheap. I've seen boards at my local Good Will, and occasionally people offering gear on FreeCycle.

Tickets can hurt. But most hills have specials, etc. Perhaps the times are a bit less convenient but none the less you can avoid full price with some tricks and effort.


I've been riding close to 20 yrs. For the last 10 to 15 I've taught, on average 3 to 5 newbies per year.

The first couple hrs are critical, as is the overall aggregate experience of the first weekend. That is, some falling aside, enjoyment and a sense of progression is more important than actually skill. Skill increases with time.

With that said, after 6 weekends you should be past the crash & burn phase. Have you had a proper lesson? Something feels a miss.


I've only had one proper lesson, but even so I have definitely experienced a sense of progression. I don't fall getting off lifts, I can do traversals without getting stuck, I can turn smoothly between my edges, I don't have trouble with blues, even moguls are fun. The problem is that I'm not great at paying attention to my surroundings (a problem not exclusive to snowboarding) and end up choosing to fall semi-safely rather than risk knocking a kid or someone. I also have a knack for scheduling my trips when the local slope is too icey to be very enjoyable.

The getting up thing is purely a strength problem. I can't do it from the floor either, can't do pushups, and I don't do enough strength training otherwise to fix that.


Its "easier" when you bring your hips real low, isn't it? The downside is you need more balance to not tip over entirely.


Sometimes when I try it earlier in the day, I am able to get up if I keep my hips real low and give myself a good push against the snow behind me, then I can go from a low crouch to standing while the board starts to go in motion. But as soon as I get a bit fatigued, I just lose balance and fall as soon as my butt leaves the snow. I still have never managed it by myself with my heels properly dug in so that I don't slide around while standing.


It's also easier on a steeper slope. Kind of counter intuitive but similar it's easier weight a bit of speed,... until you find yourself floating and catch an edge


It hurts. True! The day one of snowboarding is knowing exactly how much it hurts to fall. The next day is all about learning how to not fall. As you learn how to not fall, the day 3 begins with how to move your weight and balance your center of gravity and so forth. The trick to learning snowboarding is knowing how to avoid the hurt;)


You'll also learn much faster by going consecutive days rather than going a single day with weeks or months in between.


This is true, but even going once a week works. I find also that beginners take far too many breaks during the day, claiming physical fatique when it is usually just mental. I would always rather see someone quit the day early than stop and start and finish at 4pm.


Taught myself riding at an adult age with a lot of pain and preservance. In my experience the hardest thing to do on a board is standing still or going really fast straight.

Regarding your problem just try and go back directly instead of standing on your heals. And then do it slower and slower till you can control the action.


Many people you see going fast and straight on a board are riding flat and not on edge. This is bad form and will result in some very painful wrecks.

Carving is actually riding faster than riding flat and straight.


there is an easy way to stand up heel-side.

the trick is to first, roll in the "opposite" direction.

When you are sitting down, roll backwards so the back of your neck is touching the snow, and the bottom of your board is pointing towards the sky

At this point, gravity is trying to pull you back down. Now, along with gravity, kick your legs to roll forward quickly. Gravity and momentum should effortlessly roll your upper body to be above the board.

this allows you to avoid having to use your arms to "push" your upper body above the board.

it's also much quicker, so you don't waste effort standing up, and can save your energy for actually snowboarding down hill


R you a girl ? never had a problem standing up. you just jump from sitting and land on your feets


Why does gender matter for this?


Some of the geekiest people I know have become the best skiers/snowboarders on the mountain. I know a guy who used to regularly show up to the terrain park and do double frontflips over 60 foot jumps. He's got a PHD in physics now.

I know another guy who used to compete in big air competitions. Senior iOS developer.

My friend Brian does double cork 10s. Medical doctor.

This sport is for nerds. If you're nerdy, you have an even greater chance of being successful at it because you know how to focus on getting great at something.


Senior iOS developer, medical doctor,...

The common ground is not just geekiness, it is money. Skiing is expensive, and in order to get good, you need to practice a lot.

I am curious to know how nerdy skateboarders are. Skateboarding and snowboarding share some similarities, but the former is much more affordable.


Skated regularly for 31 years, in many countries, with thousands of others. Skateboarders are not nerdy.

The accessibility of skateboarding puts it leagues ahead of an expensive sport possible only in certain locations at certain times of year.


There are definitely nerdy aspects to skaters, despite most skaters being non-argumentative and easy going about those aspects.

A lot of skaters are very particular about their wheelbase, deck width, wheel size/durometer, tail/nose style.

Skaters are also obsessed with archival of magazines and video parts, leading to some nerdy discussions of 30 year old events that the mainstream would consider trivial.


Yeah when I was skiing 3-5 days a week at Mammoth, I met a lot of physicians and business owners on the lifts. Some astounding conversations too, a middle aged group using a private jet to hop between resorts.

It's impossible to not notice the atmosphere of rich white people at any winter resort.


So expensive! Only the richest of my friends could go skiing / snowboarding as kids. I wasn’t able to afford it until I was 26. But, then again, in the 80s and 90s, computers were also expensive. I wasn’t able to afford my first computer until I was a junior in college. So, it makes sense that my friends who had computers also went snowboarding.


There are a lot of ways to greatly reduce the cost. You can buy some really great second (even third) hand gear very cheap. Lift tickets at smaller mountains or even hills that are not as challenging to advanced boarders are often very reasonable. If you can adjust your work schedule to free up the odd weekeday that too will save a lot on the lift ticket.


iOS Developer, ex-skater, and snowboarder here. Skating is much more technical than snowboarding. There are many variations of the same trick as well as the entire flat-ground realm of skating. However, I have taken my worst bails snowboarding. The terrain park is on a different scale of "bigness" than a skatepark, creating more potential risk.


I dunno. I actually don't think it's all that expensive of a sport if you can invest in your equipment and keep it long term. Sure, you'll spend a few grand one season for a setup that will last you three or four seasons. The season pass will set you back another $600 per year roughly.

I've had my current setup for five seasons. Same board. Same boots. Same jacket, helmet, pants, etc. If I do a back of the envelope calculation, my sport probably costs me $1,000 per year on average.

There really is such a thing as competence, work ethic, and patience. These traits tend to lead to success in other areas of life, including the accumulation of wealth and advancement in one's career. Not everything can, or should, be explained by privilege. Great people really do earn their greatness.


Plus snow tires/chains, a roof rack to carry the gear, and gas and maintenance to drive 1-2 hours (each way) to the pass. Plus non-bulk-homecooked food/snacks to eat while you're out. Plus losing a huge chunk of hours every week, which matters when you're an hourly employee.

I bet a good number of people on HN are software engineers who have never had a job where they made less than $100K with "unlimited" vacation. For an hourly employee, the opportunity cost alone of skiing for a month can easily be $1000 -- I could be racking up overtime instead (and then go shoot hoops in the park, for free).

The average software engineer salary is roughly double the average salary, which in turn is about double the full time minimum wage salary. For a lot of people, "a few grand" is an insurmountable barrier. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, you're not even thinking about "accumulation of wealth and advancement" yet.


You only need snows when driving on day of storm. Unless you are doing a destination trip. that is avoidable. Any SUV or reasonable sized car does not require a roof rack to fit a couple of boards plus boots and bindings.

Pick smaller mountains for day trips or buy your pass when first on sale to a mountain that does not make snow. As just one example, an early pass to Homewood was $509.

I have sold equipment still in good working order for next to nothing. Probably the only thing you'll need to spend any coin on is boots that fit. Helmets can be had 50% (or more) off during the offseason.


...or you just go skate, play soccer, throw a frisbee in a nearby park.

Unless one happens to live in a skitown, snow sports are already more expensive than alternatives that don't require a roadtrip, let alone season passes.

If someone has an extra $250 a month to to spare for a hobby, they're already doing fairly well.


> It’s not that expensive

> you’ll spend a few grand ... 1000 dollars a year

Pick one


It's expensive but I did it in college when I made a spare $250 a month.

Old Volvo 240, used gear, waterproof running pants with sweats underneath that I already owned. Total cost of entry was a few hundred dollars.

It's much better with expensive top-notch gear but so is everything else. And it's still cheaper than skiing.

Twenty years later cheap gear is radically improved and there's a much bigger used market. And if you live near Seattle you can hitch a ride with me to Stevens whenever.

If you don't want to pay for lift tickets you can get used split-board and avalanche gear and take an avalanche safety class for about a one-time $1500 expense and walk up mountains for free instead, even at resorts.


lol, you invest a few grand one year up front but it smoothes out over the coming seasons to roughly one grand on average because you keep your gear and don't have to invest in new stuff every season.

Also that's not the super frugal version of this. If you really wanted to, you could just buy all of your stuff on Craigslist. I've done that with some of my stuff, and you can get a huge discount.

You wouldn't believe the kind of people who buy gear, ride like two days, and then sell it a few years later. The market is glutted with this kind of stuff.


I do a lot of expedition-style backpacking either alone or in a guided group. The groups are always full of tech people, mostly from SV. It's almost like the only people who can afford fun shit are the techies.


could it be they are the only ones that can afford $600 per day guided trips? MDs and tech nerds are well paid.


Nah, It's not even that much. $600 will get you a very good, 3 or 4-day guided trip to the backcountry in Oregon and Washington. You'd be hauling your gear, food and skies/snowshoes. I do think that techies can easily afford this stuff, but I also think what's more important is they can afford to take a lot of time off work (or just leave their jobs all together knowing they'll find another gig fairly quickly) to enjoy things like this.


Park is fun for me. It's relatively cheap too. You just need a ski pass and your gear. I would also qualify as a tech d-bag but I don't spend a ton of money on the sport and generally look like a dirtbag when I'm out and about


Depending on the mountain and the park, you may even be able to get away with just foot power.


Are these all in Northern California?


Not at all. There are high end touring and backpacking, i.e. full service guided hut/cat/heli drops and hut to hut style, all over the world in or near most major ski destinations. Most people I know who can afford to do these trips is within the STEM group or independently wealthy. Or they're younger with no overhead and they dirtbag it for a awhile to save up but this is the minority.


> This sport is for nerds.

Having a lot of disposable income helps, too.

Or if you're a dirtbag, the ability to live as cheaply as possible so you can spend as much time as possible on the mountain.


>Having a lot of disposable income helps, too.

It's not that expensive unless you have to travel far enough warranting an overnight stay. I was able to afford decent equipment and lift passes from working a cashier job in high school. You could buy used equipment for a family of 5 for under $1000. Check out craigslist in some mountain towns, you can find higher end equipment that's a only a few years old for dirt cheap.


Cashiers job and no financial responsibilities.


You're just going to ignore the other half of the post where I said the following?

>You could buy used equipment for a family of 5 for under $1000. Check out craigslist in some mountain towns, you can find higher end equipment that's a only a few years old for dirt cheap.


Is that the case or is it because winter sport is so expensive and we are well paid compared to people in other fields?

I recently went to Berlin and Prague, and met a lot of people who worked in tech that had quit their job to travel for 6 months.


This is the exact same thing for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Half the guys at my gym (in a random town in South Florida) are engineers or doctors.


Unexpected joe rogan?


PHD in physics. Aha. Maybe that helps. He knows why the snowboard does what it does and goes where it goes.


It took me to 'my friend Brian' to pick up your sarcasm.


My 2 cents for beginners, most of these are covered in the article:

1. Get a flying-v or CamRock - makes turning easier and will hold an edge better until you figure out how to carve.

2. Don't put your feet perpendicular to the board, you want some angle, 30° Front, 15° Back. It will make it easier to square your shoulders down the hill and get your weight on the front of your edge.

3. Start on a Blue slope. Seriously. I hate seeing beginners exhausting themselves on green slopes straining to get enough speed to get on edge and then catching the opposite edge because there is not enough slope.


Start on a Blue slop IF the conditions are good, i.e. you can dig your edge into the snow at least an inch.

If the conditions are not good, i.e. hard-pack or icy, then put the board away. Trying to learn in poor conditions is counterproductive and very painful on your ass, wrists and head.


I live in the Midwest U.S., those are the only conditions we have. :) (You're still right. It sucks and is painful, but it's all us non-mountain people have).


You also don't have any mountains. - someone who just moved back to the PNW from Michigan and Illinois.


The UP has some interesting stuff, but living in Ann Arbor, it's a shorter trip just to get on a plane and go to Utah.


As others have said, your #3 point is controversial, but potentially not as bad as they seem. This really depends on what resort/part of the world you are. My home mountain in Oregon is about 65% black diamond, and there's only one green circle run. The first blue square you can use is actually very steep and quite dangerous for beginners.

At the same time, I was living in the Midwest a few years, and the only black diamond I found honestly wasn't even as steep or interesting as the intro blue square I mentioned before.

So, your advice might be accurate in context of a beginner mountain, but at many resorts blue diamonds are best left to intermediates only.


When ever going to an unfamiliar mountain or doing the first run of the season(or after an equipment change) it is a good idea to just hit a green and then move on.


I've been snowboarding for 12 years, done many 120+ day seasons, and I'm a certified Level 2 instructor in Canada, have done the course for Level 3, need to take the exam. (There are only 4 levels).

I don't love all your advice.

1. Sure, marketing gimmicks are great, and you're right, it will help a little. Learning good technique will help a lot more. Learn how to control the edge and how to turn the board when you want to turn the board.

2. 30 front and 15 rear is too much of a difference, which means you'll never learn switch, and things will feel wrong when the board accidentally goes the wrong way (beginners get this all the time). WAAAAY better to go something like 18 front and 12 rear. i.e. it's like 15/15 duck, but then move both of them forward 3 degrees.

CASI (Canadian Association Of Snowboard Instructors) are fine if you want to go "forward facing" like your 30 front foot, but you have to do it all the time if you want to pass any exams, which gets hard. It's not a good footing to build your snowboarding career from (excuse the pun)

3. No. Three thousand times no. Then another thousand times. (I'm not trying to be a jerk, but you just failed your CASI Level 1 instructor exam.)

One of the biggest parts of the level 1 instructor exams is terrain selection, for very good reason. It depends a lot on the temperature at the time, and the snow conditions, but more often than not you do not want a blue slope for a never-ever. Find a green slope that does NOT go off to either side. ie. you roll a snowball down it, the snowball goes straight down the middle, it doesn't veer off to either side.

If you go too steep, your students will be terrified of the "dead zone" when they are between edges and pointing down the fall line, because they will accelerate and be afraid. That's how you teach people to go top to bottom on one edge, which is not what we want.

You MUST pick a suitable slope so the student is not afraid to actually make turns, otherwise they'll never progress. I see this in students all the time who say "I can snowboard" and they go down pretty fast, all the while standing perfectly still on their heel edge.

For what it's worth, I had been snowboarding for 5 or 6 years before I took an instructor course. Before the course I would aggressively go down all the double-black runs on the mountain, as fast as anyone, and fell rarely. During the Level 1 course my mind was blown, my snowboarding was torn back to square one and I have been building on a correct foundation ever since. It's like a whole new sport, and I fell in love with it all over again. The title of this post caught my attention because I'm a Geek who learns and does things very intellectually. I highly, highly recommend taking an instructor course, even if you never intend to teach. It's the cheapest lessons from a very experienced instructor you'll ever get.


> If you go too steep, your students will be terrified of the "dead zone" when they are between edges and pointing down the fall line, because they will accelerate and be afraid. That's how you teach people to go top to bottom on one edge, which is not what we want.

100% correct on this one (obviously, you're an instructor). I find the hardest/scariest part of people learning snowboarding OR skiing is the point in the middle of a turn when they have to face downhill and start to pick up speed.


Absolutely, the beginner linked turns are some of the hardest in snowboarding.

Usually the trick is to get them to point and look across the hill (not down the fall line) so a) they won't get scared and b) they'll go across and make the turn, rather than rocketing down!


100% agreed, 15/30 is wayyyyyyy too much, unless you are racing.


> 2. 30 front and 15 rear is too much of a difference, which means you'll never learn switch, and things will feel wrong when the board accidentally goes the wrong way (beginners get this all the time).

Not true. Mentally you'll be riding reverse even with full duck stance. People do it on skis and alpine boards. But people put on a very awkward stance for regular riding because they feel they can't ride switch otherwise.


> Not true. Mentally you'll be riding reverse even with full duck stance

But the difference is with duck when you ride switch everything feels the same stance-wise because your two feet are still at the same angle they always where.

If you ride with 30 on the front and 15 on the back, when you ride switch you will feel like your front foot doesn't have enough angle (because it only has 15 when you are used to 30) and your back foot has stupidly too much angle (because it's 30.... which is plain stupid for your back foot).

You never, ever want to ride with 30 on your back foot, which means if you have that 30/15 stance, you're locking yourself out of switch riding.

And you might say "who cares, I hate switch anyway", which is a perfectly valid thing to say, but riding switch even for just one or two runs a day is an excellent, excellent way to improve your all around riding. So if you don't do it, you're severely limiting your potential.


The truth is that while people are exposed to a lot of snowboarding that shows a lot of park and jumps the majority of snowboarders simply enjoys going down groomers at moderate to fast speed.

If you set up your binding angles for stuff they don't do at all or not very often you're taking out the fun of what they're actually doing in favor of something they might feel they should be to fulfill the image of what a snowboarder does.

And all I'm saying is that riding reverse / fakie is more of a mental thing than something that you should reflect in your bindings. I regularly saw people and alpine bindings carving down steep slopes on race boards that have no rear tip at all. I can ride reverse on a simple blue slope, not carving yet but I really didn't try that hard yet.

One of the prime reasons skiing took off again is that you'll rent a pair of hard boots with carve ski's for going down groomers and they're way easier because they're optimized for what people actually do all day on the mountain: going down groomers at moderate to fast speed.


I agree 100%. In fact, I almost never go near the park, except when I'm forced to in a training course. I don't enjoy it at all.

Riding switch is still a fantastic way to improve your riding - yes, even just "going down" groomers. And a more balanced stance allows you to do that.

It also keeps more of your body more balanced over the board when things go wrong, so you stand a better chance of regaining control because more of your body (hips, knees) are symmetrical.

I'm not even really talking about my personal opinion here, this is straight from CASI.


Thanks for this detailed post. I'm stuck at advanced beginner/intermediate forever, and find it frustrating to be able to get down groomed runs just fine, but as soon as the terrain gets a little bumpy it all goes to pieces. Been looking into snowboard camps or private coaching, but love the idea of an instructor course so thanks a million for that!


You're welcome. I hope you see this.

I see a lot of students get to the point you describe then Plataea. Without seeing you ride, I'm guessing you are not always going where the nose of the board is pointing, but often sliding down the fall line - either a lot or a bit. So after you make a turn (swap edges), you might be going across a little, but you're also going down. This will be evident by the line you're leaving in the snow. If it's a thin line going across the slope, I'm wrong. Chances are it's a big washy scrape that goes down as much (or more) than it goes across.

When you're not going where the board is pointing, you don't have a good stable base and balance, so when something like a bump or tricky snow comes along, you fall.

To improve this, do some edging exercises, and really concentrate on making a turn, then absolutely go across the run on a diagonal, really going where the nose of the board is pointing. Point with your front hand and arm where you want to go (across the fall line) and look there with your whole head. Practice in both directions so you are doing it on both edges.

You can even traverse so hard you actually go back up hill a little. It's good edging practice.

You will use your knees & the muscles in your legs and ankles to change how your edge is biting into the snow so you can actively control how much you're traversing across, vs how much you're sliding down the fall line.

Once you get the feeling of going where the snowboard is actually pointing you will feel what I mean and it becomes addictive!

Good luck & Have fun!


> 3. Start on a Blue slope. Seriously. I hate seeing beginners exhausting themselves on green slopes straining to get enough speed to get on edge and then catching the opposite edge because there is not enough slope.

You need a _wide_ slope with good snow. Could be an Austrian black, as long as you have enough time to ride to the sides in between turns. Slopes that are too flat are bad for sure.


2 - unless you plan to become a park rat I would suggest riding 15/0 or 20/5

3 - its not that they can't get enough speed on a green slope, it is that they panic. It is very difficult for most people to grasp that turning is actuall easier at (reasonable) speed. Even on greens it is pretty easy to push 40+ mph.


Do you mean -15 on the back foot, your angles have both feet pointing downhill don't they?

Maybe its just me but I ride duck stance, so front foot point towards the front of the board and back foot points slightly towards the back. Makes riding switch a lot easier.


I think they did mean -15. Either way, 30 up front is SUPER aggressive.


Re: #3, it is important to remember that slope difficulty is primarily rated for skiers. The two sports are very significantly different, even though both can get you down the hill. Ask other snowboarders which runs are the best for beginners.


Yes. All correct info.


As a skier who only took a beginning level instructor and then learned by myself for multiple seasons - take as many instructor hours as you can, even if can already ride down black slopes. Seriously, last year I took an advanced instructor and it was a revelation. Take instructor even when you think you don't need him and don't listen to your friends joking about it.


Last year in Colorado, skiing alone, I met an 80-year old instructor on a ski lift who was nice enough to take me under his wing and teach me more advanced form and technique for two days. I'm from Switzerland and have been skiing my whole life, but had never had a lesson. Having a pro teach me the fundamentals was an absolute revelation. I highly recommend taking a class if you can!


Interesting. Been skiing since I was 3 (so my father tells me), and learnt to snowboard 20 years ago when I was 30. I went into a shop in the Austrian Alps (St. Johann am Pongau), hired a board and boots, found myself an instructor and had an hours' 1:1 lesson. Never had another instructor since but got to teach three people to 'board on Mount Baker, WA.

But for about 2 years now I've been wondering what I don't yet know that an instructor night teach me. So I'm going to get me an instructor when I next go in Jan.


As a skier I discovered that while I could ride down red slopes and struggle down black slopes I did almost everything wrong. Wrong upper body position, wrong body movement in turns, wrong weight balance in turns, wrong pressure application on the ski, etc. We did some exercises with impairments too - no hand movement or with open boot bindings to understand certain things and it really did help.


Ski instructor on a powder day is a blast. You get to cut the lines and get fresh tracks. Also if you sign up for small group advanced lessons, you're usually the only person in the group so its like a private instructor for half the price.


I've been snowboarding for over 20 years and skied for 10 years before that. I live near Whistler, did a season there and average over 20 days riding a season. I still take lessons when I get a chance and always get value out of them.


Thats great if you have money. I taught myself to snowboard at 21, having been able to do some skiing before that. Only reason I could was because I worked on the mountain, so it was easy to spend a day falling over on the nursery slope or a week falling on the green slopes because I had so much time. Didn't cost me anything to learn. Once I was fairly proficient I had an actual instructor/guided run to refine my technique.


I really encourage this. So much of skiing is counter-intuitive probably because the whole sport is counter-intuitive. Skiing is all about falling down a hill in a controlled manner, the opposite of what humans are used to. One example is leaning forward down the slope. It feels scary and less stable, your "reptile brain" doesn't want to do it, but it actually gives you more control.


Definitely agree with this.

I've been skiing my entire life (age 3 to currently 28) and a spent a great deal of time with an instructor.

My girlfriend has also been skiing her entire life, pretty much never with an instructor. Her first time she joined me and my family with the instructor, she was blown away by how much the instructor was able to improve her skiing in ~20 minutes of teaching.

Seriously, good ones know their shit.


Seoond this. My first 10 years of boarding I always did a destination trip mid-season and would book at least one instructor session. If nothing else, they will let you know what bad habits you have formed since the previous year!


yes. lessons will improve your riding no matter how long you've ridden, and they are KEY at the beginning stages. so many movements are counter intuitive


I like seeing guides like this for newcomers. It's pretty funny, though, to see Architecture Astronauts try to find similarities between any two activities, no matter how different:

"__ can resonate with the geek inside us because it has gadgets, it requires systematic approach to our own progress and it provides a lot of satisfaction and fun we typically find in the creative process."

Is there any human endeavor which could not fill the blank here?


Riding hardboots since the 90's. Lots of gear tweakers in that scene. People treating their clothing with certain kinds of stuff they treat sails with to not rip them to shreds when doing continuous laid down linked turns, boots modifications for extra flexibility, experimenting with all kinds of shapes and materials and hours and hours of talk about edge pressure.

I tried Driver X boots for example. Way to rigid compared to the forward flex of my hardboots!


Fellow hardbooter here. Talk about when world collides. I know the guy in the Photo(hardboot). Yes there are tons of tinker-bell: it's not my lack of skill it's the equipment not "optimized" for the condition.


Me three! I can't imagine going back to soft boots. The initial cost is more but boots and bindings last far longer.


I'm a softbooter who has thought about switching over because I love carving more than any other aspect.

This guy [1] is basically my hero, and I'm slowly working towards it. My brother just got a custom board with 290mm waist width, I'm going to get a 320 or 330mm for my size 12 feet.

[1] https://youtu.be/cBo9bB1cXOo?t=111


I like Casper Carver and the Swoard guys. Casper uses mid '90's stuff like asyms but it fits his style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQBXNum6l_M https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmfUjxM_NOQ

I can link turns laid down on a good day on a good slope but it's not even half as nice as what they do.


Yeah, that's nice, but remember that's hard boots, on a carving board, with a forward facing stance.

The trick is doing that with soft boots!


Come on over; the water is fine. head over to http://forums.alpinesnowboarder.com/ Ryan is a rider for Donek snowboard and he sometime post there.


I don't ride the fruit boots but do respect the serious lines you guys lay down! Are you on Prior? Donek? Something else? I've been riding Sean's stuff for many years, closet you'll get on a board using soft boots to the hard boot world.


I ride in the trees a lot and crash through dead branches regularly to find those lines that others miss. What kind of treatment are we talking here? All I can find is stuff like 3M seamtape, or sewing on more material in high-abrasion spots.


https://www.extremecarving.com/forum/

People use Sika 252 or Covergom I think. Use it for gloves and your hips, mine wear out like crazy on frozen groomers.


i used Plasti Dip spray. Multiple layers. Not sure it will work with dead branches.

http://forums.alpinesnowboarder.com/topic/44584-shredding-ja...


I've found snowboarding sucks compared to skiing if your skiing in somewhat consistently icey conditions like we have here at Tahoe. Getting kneepads definitely made it less painful, since it's easy to trip over your toe edge onto your knees when you turn into a groove on ice.


> I've found snowboarding sucks compared to skiing if your skiing in somewhat consistently icey conditions

You should try New England :) I'd add that skiing is superior if you're doing a lot of backcountry traversing as well. The only remedy is to either learn to ski or get a split board (which will set you back $800+).


While I agree that backcountry travel, in general, is easier on skis you're going to shell out more money for an AT ski setup then you will for a splitboard.


Wear a helmet! I had some nasty falls learning!


wrist guards and butt pads are very underrated. you'll be spending a lot of time falling on your ass and instinctively reaching your arms out to cushion the fall. saved me a few sprained wrists and sore cheeks when i was learning


Lots of people hurt their wrists, but lots of others can hear the instruction "don't try to catch yourself with your hands, just fall on your butt or shoulder" and then follow that instruction. Personally, as a beginner the helmet was the real lifesaver. As soon as catching my heels didn't cause me to see stars, I learned how not to catch my heels...


Absolutely. Concussions are a very real thing and it’s definitely not worth any serious injuries. The better you get, the harder the falls will be.


When you're learning, you'll catch an edge quite often and you'll fall fast and hard... a helmet is a must. If I didn't have one, I'd probably have been in the hospital at least a few times. :)


I was going recommend also wearing a mouthguard, because I've always felt like they reduced the head trauma I experience if I fell, but a quick literature search indicates that their efficacy for that purpose may not be well-validated. :/


I'll need to try that next time. I've had some really hard spills, and the sound/feeling of teeth clacking together as my head (always in a helmet) hit the ground was definitely the most disconcerting aspect of the fall.


If you are in the park or pipe, that is a good idea


I also had them, include a nasty shoulder one.

So not only helmet but other stuff as well, like those spine protection jackets.


So basically motorcycle gear?


When you crash with your body against someone else or the nature going at 60+ KM/H there is hardly any difference.


Exactly. When I plowed into a tree trunk, I had my board broken in half and speed wasn't even close to 60. Scary to think that it might have been my spine


Lots of great comments here about snowboarding so I figured I'd provide my two cents. I tried skiing a couple of times and ended up just not having much fun. Eventually decided to try out snowboarding. It felt like I had gotten hit by a car the next day.

But there was something about it that seemed promising, so I stuck with it. The initial learning curve is really steep. I was a far better skier after far less effort at the same point than snowboarding. But after keeping at it a few times I finally got parts of it to "click". I'm still terrible, but I rarely fall now and can generally make it down most blue slopes without too much fuss, something I really struggled with on skis.

It works far more of your core muscles and your quads and hamstrings that skiing does, so it takes some time to figure out how to control all that with the precision.

The key for me was to really understand that the board itself wasn't something I rode on top of, but instead of was a living vessel I was part of, and that I could twist, rotate and otherwise manipulate using movements in my legs, subtle shifts in center of balance and core muscles. Once that started to make sense it became much easier and I found it far easier and more rewarding that skiing for me.

Skiing is many moving parts you have to coordinate, snowboarding is one moving part with many subtle means of expression. It's a bit like the difference between playing a drumkit and playing a violin if that makes sense for any musicians.


I mean no offence, but I think a few of these opinions are probably because of your skill level on both a snowboard and skis.

> It works far more of your core muscles and your quads and hamstrings that skiing does, so it takes some time to figure out how to control all that with the precision.

If you're skiing hard, the core and quads are fully engaged. Especially in deep snow. In fact, I suspect that you need more engagement on skis.

> The key for me was to really understand that the board itself wasn't something I rode on top of, but instead of was a living vessel I was part of, and that I could twist, rotate and otherwise manipulate using movements in my legs, subtle shifts in center of balance and core muscles. Once that started to make sense it became much easier and I found it far easier and more rewarding that skiing for me.

Everything you said here about snowboarding applies to skiing, however it takes longer for that to click on skis because there's more to coordinate.

> Skiing is many moving parts you have to coordinate, snowboarding is one moving part with many subtle means of expression.

I definitely agree with the sentiment of one moving part with subtle means of expression, but when you get good at skiing, it starts to feel more like one moving part.

This is my experience as someone who snowboarded for 15ish years before switching to skiing a few years ago.


Your comments are totally fair and I do not take any offense at all. Appreciate the other points of view!


Interesting. I snowboarded for 18 years before switching full time to skiing last year, and I've reversely similar experience to yours in loving the nuance and subtly of the new skill. I wonder if there's something about combining a base fitness and aptitude with a beginner's mind.

I love the symmetry to skiing, and the experience of begin square to the fall line.


I started skiing as a kid, switched to snowboarding as a teenager, then started skiing again now in my mid-30s. Picking up skiing again after ~20 years was a lot of fun; nice to feel like I'm learning something new again but still know how snow feels and mountains work.

From my own experience, and watching a number of other friends, the first 2-3 days of skiing is easier than the first 2-3 days of snowboarding.

These days I'll happily ski/board most places on most mountains (in-resort, at least) but if I'm getting into technical terrain will vastly prefer a snowboard.. much quicker recovery time if you fall, often you can just bounce back up w/out fully stopping. I'd argue that snowboards are more fun in the pow as well.. skis are great for the hard-and-fast groomer days!

If you're a nerd, and you like skiing / boarding, then check out ski touring / splitboarding. Add backcountry travel, navigation, skin track setting, & most importantly avalanche / snow safety, and you've got a sport that is almost endless in terms of things to learn & keep in mind while you're out and about. And it's excellent exercise while you're at it!


You will fall on your butt more times than you would like the first time you try it. Knowing this plan accordingly. Schedule your first lessons for a day with good, firm but not hard snow, snow that is a bit like solid styrofoam. Falling on snow like that doesn’t hurt, but beware of a fresh dusting of flakes over hard packed icy base beneath.

I found that once you’ve learned snowboarding that it works really well on many conditions from icy to powder, groomed and ungroomed. The trails do make a difference though. Skiers can manage narrow trails or catwalks easily no matter the slope. Snowboarding these tails can be difficult because boarders need to maintain enough speed to make it though the flat spots (no poles!) while not having much room to burn off excess speed by traversing the fall line, especially when there are lots of skiers traveling at a modest pace with their poles. Also moguls aren’t much fun for me on a board. Skiers have a tighter turning radius and the resulting mogul fields end up difficult for me on a board (I’m sure good boarders handle them just fine, but I can’t).


First, too many boarders do not wax their boards frequently enough, if at all. It is really easy to do and unless the snow is super sticky spring stuff you can fly by skiiers on flats and traverses (or course, know how to hold and edge before doing that and don't pass without being sure you have room). Catwalks, speed just not a good idea.

You really need to get out there and learn to do moguls. It will improve your boarding considerably. Start with a lesson or two and target days you know the bumps aren't ice boulders. Technique varies but common is always keep moving (you'll learn to hate the skiers who stop every four turns in front of you).


Note:

> Skiing and snowboarding does have a reputation of being a risky sport, but the overall injury rate for skiers is a little lower than you may expect with 3 injuries per 1000 skier days. Put another way, if you ski 20 days a year, on average you’ll sustain an injury every 16-17 years. Snowboarders have a higher injury risk with a reported 4-16 injuries per 1000 snowboarder days.

Source: https://www.premax.co/au/blog/recent-statistics-on-skiing-an...

See also: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1303417/

And: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492000/


This is the kind of content I come to HN for. :)


I never thought I'd see a fusion of these two, but I am so happy it's here!

Snowboarding has been my connection with nature since I was a kid. When I finished my Eagle Scout project and moved to the city, I was left with this hole for nature that needed to be filled.

Now as an adult living in a city, my reconnection with nature is through snowboarding. Once I started riding deep powder in Canada, Japan, and Europe, my life changed.

There are few things in my life more awe-inspiring than a fresh pow day and untouched trails. And until you've experienced it, it's very difficult to describe that feeling you get when touching nature in a way few experience.

My grandfather skied until he was 89. I hope to make it that far as well.

ALSO, my first job was working in a ski shop as a kid. And I totally geek out about snowboarding gear, so I'm happy to make recommendations to anyone here looking for board/boots/bindings/accessories/clothing gear/backcountry items/etc.

If you do decide to head into the backcountry, take an AIARE level 1 avalanche course, and be sure to buy a pole, shovel, and transponder: http://aiare.info/providers_list.php

FINALLY, tips after reading through the whole beginner recommendation chart:

* TAKE LESSONS. LOTS OF THEM. They may be expensive, but an immersive 2/3 day lesson plan will rapidly accelerate your learning. The less you know, the more you fall. The more days you fall, the more pain you're in. Save your ass (literally) and just take as many lessons as you can afford until you're linking turns and carving down the mountain. Then take more :)

* GEARTRADE.COM - This site looks like it was made in 2002 but they have the best deals. A lot of the Backcountry.com returns get sent here, so it's basically like-new quality for a fraction of the cost.

* For a board, get a true twin. If I could go back and learn all over again, I'd learn switch as quickly as I learned regular. A twin board helps immensely.

* Boots matter probably even more than the board and bindings. If you're gonna drop cash, drop them here and in the clothes so you stay warm/dry.

* DO NOT GET STEP-IN BINDINGS. Even the 2nd gen of Burton step-ins are improved, but people still have problems with them. The ease you get (even with the Flow bindings) doesn't make up for the lack of contact/feel you get with traditional bindings. The analogy I think of is like a Tesla - yeah you could get autonomous driving capabilities, but it's just not there yet. Save your money and wait a few more years before putting all of your faith in this system.

* It's easy to get caught up in the Burton hype. Burton is a very holistic company in that they can get you a board/boots/bindings/clothes. And they're not a bad company. It's just that there are also a lot of other great companies that make stuff as well.

* Get bib pants. Even if you aren't riding pow in the backcountry, trust me. Bibs provide more freedom of movement, you never have to worry about bringing a belt or it snapping/breaking on a ride, and even if you're on a trail and you eat it, you could still get snow up your back.

* DON'T OVERSPEND ON GLOVES. Someone will try and justify Gore Tex Hestras to you. Just pick up KINCO 901 SKI MITTENS. There's a reason every ski patrol and service person wears them. They're cheap (<$20), durable as hell, and can be waterproofed with bee's wax in about 1 hour.

* Don't wear cotton. Always prefer poly base layers and down/fleece mid layers. They can be had for very cheap at the basement outlet stores (TJMaxx, Marshalls, etc).

* On that note, YMMV but if you layer properly, you basically have 0 need for an insulated jacket. That saves you money to spend higher on outer layers that focus on waterproofing. Plus you can use that uninsulated shell as a rain jacket in the sprint/summer.

* Goggles are another thing to spend up on. The last thing you want is compromised vision. Get goggles that have interchangeable lenses (I prefer the Electric EG3 for super wide visibility and easy/cheap interchangeable lenses). GET 1 FOR CLOUDY/DARK AND 1 FOR SUNNY/BRIGHT. Don't worry about mirrored lenses; if you can afford to spend up on polarized it will help in bright conditions, but for cloudy it won't matter, though generally yellow is considered the best lens color for dark conditions (superior to amber and rose).

* I highly recommend the YouTube subscriptions mentioned. SnowboardProCamp and Snowboarding Addiction are awesome instructional videos. Ryan Knapton has the best buttering technique as I've ever seen.

* Yes, buttering is a thing. And it's awesome.


Boots are very important (certainly your feet must feel good in them) but they can't be viewed in isolation. While I think we are past the days of Herman Munster boots, you still need to be careful to match your boot to both the binding and board. You'll want to be able to take full advantage of your binding while not ending up with toe or heel drag.

Board choice is also important, especially for a beginner. Worst mistake a novice can make is getting a board that is too stiff or (and it usually goes hand in hand) one with too large a turning radius.

Besides don't get step-ins, I would avoid Flow bindings as well. They are convenient until they aren't :)

When buying goggles, ALWAYS BRING YOUR HELMET. If you have only one choice of lens color (because of $) get yellow or the lightest mirrored orange/amber. Bluebird days will be a little bright but there are usually more cloudy days and shadows come early in the winter. Depth perception is the key.


Playing a snowboarding video game — after having gone snowboarding once — was very helpful for me. Seeing how the avatar lifted the edges of his board while turning helped me understand what I’d been doing wrong and made me a much better snowboarder the second time around.

Watching YouTube videos would probably serve a similar purpose, but the interactivity of the game made it especially useful for me (besides, YouTube didn’t exist when I learned in the late 90s). For the record, I played 1080 Snowboarding on the Dreamcast, may it rest in peace. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1080%C2%B0_Snowboarding


Last year I bought a copy of Steep for my son (he was 7). First day in our Christmas vacation, he thought he could to a 360, just like in the video game, he landed on his nose. We stayed for a week in the resort watching snowboard on youtube. :)


+1. Always wanted to learn to Ski not having been exposed to snow early on but was told that Snowboarding is easier than Skiing for absolute beginners. Perhaps this time i can actually get some proper lessons. Timing couldn't be perfect!. Thanks.


>but was told that Snowboarding is easier than Skiing for absolute beginners.

I think the "easier" depends on the target skill level.

Skiiing is easier to achieve a beginner skill level. Absolute beginners can point their toes inward and ski "pizza wedges" down easy hills rated as "green" within a few hours. Indeed, many skiiers including adults never leave this stage. But upgrading the skills to intermediate level requires changing the technique to shift the body weight to the edges of the skis. This shift can take weeks.

Snowboarding learning curve is the opposite. It's harder to get going as a beginner because you must balance on alternating edges of the board to even make the simplest basic turns. But the payoff is that you can graduate to intermediate and advanced slopes (the blues and black rated trails) much faster.


Yeah, I never spent enough time skiing/boarding to progress past the beginner or early intermediate stage. The first time I went skiing I was already having fun because I was at a place with a long, meandering set of green trails.

They had a good combination of steeper bits to build speed and then leveled off to allow me to "regroup" and recover if I was pushing myself a bit. I understand how funny it is to think of "pushing yourself" on a green trail but this was the first time I'd gone skiing. The length of the trails helped a lot since even without being a major challenge, I could enjoy gliding through the woods for a good while before having to get back in line for the lift.

I didn't even bother with the short "bunny slopes" after a preliminary run or two since they were not long enough to get a feel for it before you had to just stop and start over.

I went a few more times over that winter and the next one and got to the point where I was feeling good on some of the easier "blues". I understood how edges worked and it mostly felt natural.

Snowboarding was very different for me. I have never taken the time to get any good at it because starting off is just so uncomfortable, awkward, and un-fun for me. I guess with skiing, it feels like the very basics feel like normal standing posture with some modification. I liked my legs being separate and not both strapped together in one direction.

What you're saying makes complete sense to me. I don't go often enough to ever get particularly good but I can still have fun and get some exercise as a noob skier. I've never had fun as a noob snowboarder and it makes it harder to put in the effort knowing that I don't have the money and time to devote to getting past that stage and to the fun parts.


>changing the technique to shift the body weight to the edges of the skis. This shift can take weeks.

There are some ski schools that skip the "pizza wedge" technique and teach beginners directly the weight on edge parallel skis turns. They're very, very progressive independent schools usually. In the French Alps, you can ask about the ESF, which have schools everywhere, and in some (very rare) places teach like this.

That being said, in a normal 6 day ESF beginners class you would start learning parallel ski turns by day 3 if everything goes OK, after doing the usual pizza wedge the first days.


I've always known this as "snow plough" rather than pizza wedge. Mind you, my first boots were made of leather and lace up. To be fair they were pretty old when they were chucked over to me aged seven in 1977. They needed to be smeared in dubbin for water proofing and I had bloody cold feet. Luckily they were binned after my first season.

Alpine skis were nearly straight sided when I were a lad and "carvers" only started to appear in the 80's. Transitioning from snow plough, sometimes through stem christies (turn downhill ski and lift and bring uphill ski into it) to proper parallel turns was a rite of passage. Modern skis lend themselves to point and turn much earlier.

When I teach I try to do both snow plough and parallel together because they are both useful techniques. Snow plough for control of speed and stability and parallel for general usage.

One technique I rarely see these days (apart from me) is the "kick turn" which is where you turn yourself 180 degrees in place, regardless of slope. It looks a lot cooler than back sliding and then wacking in a quick slow speed turn.


Early stage hiccups aside, my observations have usually been that skiers continue to progress in skill relatively smoothly, but that snow-boarders usually progress rapidly to boarding a lot of terrain, but doing it 'ugly', and very few boarders progress to the point of carving.


Would you say knowing how to skateboard makes snowboarding easier? I'm planning on trying one of these this winter for the first time and I'm hoping some biking/skateboarding balance transfers over.


Yes for some things, no for others. General board control, stance, balance, body movement for some tricks, etc: skateboarding definitely helps. There are some things that will feel unnatural at first though if you have skateboarded for a long time:

1) You want your weight biased towards your front foot on a snowboard, when you get competent at riding you will be doing a lot of control with the front foot. This is the opposite to skateboarding, where leaning on the front leg will cause you to fall over very quickly.

2) Toeside turns on a snowboard are utterly counterintuitive because there's no real mapping to anything on a skateboard (unlike heelside which could be considered like a fs powerslide on a skateboard) - you have to push your shins into your boots. Maybe it's a bit like carving on a longboard, but not so much.

The whole turning thing is the main difference - on a snowboard you use your front foot and your edges, on a skateboard you just pivot on the trucks.

(Source: 20 years as a skateboarder, now spend about 30 days a year on the slopes instead).


When I learnt I could already ski, was terrible at skateboarding, never got good enough to even ollie.

Did one day of 2x2 hour lesson, then could board well enough to do intermediate runs and manage on t-bar and chair lifts.

Most abiding memory, very cold arse. We broke for lunch after the first 2 hours and I had difficulty using the loo because I couldn't feel my arse at all.

Great fun, but for the last couple of days of the trip I went back to skis. There's something about the rhythmb that matched mountain-biking for me.

Day after the snowboarding lessons I couldn't sit up in bed, had to roll over, my tummy was so sore. I'd recommend lots of sit-ups and squats to get your abs ready!

I think it's easier to learn to board.


When I first tried snowboarding after skateboarding for many years, the hardest part to get used to was being strapped into the board. I instinctively wanted to adjust the position of my feet and run out of falls.


In my unscientific opinion, I think there is some skills overlap with skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding. They all put your body at a 90 degree angle to the direction you're heading and you have to adjust your center of gravity over the board to turn. So it's very possible your skateboarding skills will help you learn faster than people who don't surf and skateboard.


If you can get a hold of a caster board (rip stick), I found the motion to translate perfectly [1]. My very first time snowboarding, within 10 feet down the slope I had flipped over myself hard probably 3 times. And when I managed to stand up for more than a few seconds, it felt like the board was just sliding and I had no control.

But then for some reason I thought to ride it like a rip stick. And it completely clicked. I made it all the way down that very first run from there. Some of my group members had snowboarded multiples times before that day, but I was pretty much instantly better than most of them. As a side note, I also used to skateboard and didn't feel like it helped at all.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caster_board


The way you lean to carve and drive with your feet and let your body follow is very much like long boarding IMO.

I never skated on a regular board but I'd say yes you will have it easier.


Only partially, because on snowboard you are bound to the board, so there is no jumping aside if things go bad, and the way to manage your balance is slightly different.

If you do it just like on the skateboard, you will fall a lot.


the basics of turning, carving, moguls, maintaining your speed etc wont necessarily feel analogous to skateboarding but the more advanced concepts especially when it comes to things like pipe & rails will feel pretty natural. the most fundamental difference imo is that skating pretty much all happens in your feet while you really have to throw your whole body to do anything on a snowboard.


A general rule of thumb I've heard many times is:

'Skiing is easy to learn but hard to master, Snowboarding is hard to learn but easier to master'.

You're likely to fall over more learning to snowboard but will become competent and able to carve down the mountain faster.

Other elements to consider, Skiers are usually able to go faster than snowboarders down the hill. Snowboarders will have to unstrap and strap into their back binding when entering and exiting the chairlifts. Snowboarders have many more easy trick options available. I know hardly any skiers that can do any tricks, most of my competent snowboarding friends are able to at least do small jumps of sidehits (mounds of snow on the sides of the slope).

I'm a passionate snowboarder and cannot recommend the sport highly enough, there is just no feeling like riding down fresh powder snow on a cool winters morning!


I'll note that skiers seem have a much easier time learning to handle difficult terrain/higher typical skill cap in that area.

I don't see many boarders who can handle mogul fields without looking miserable. Likewise, when you've got some vertical ice skating going on a double diamond, the skiers usually have a much easier time maintaining control (two edges and all that).

I'll also note that a flat traverse is way more miserable for a boarder, skiers can "skate" along.

All depends on what you want to do any your interests.

Either way, it's a great hobby.


Most of the boarders complaining about flats do so because they never wax their boards. If you regularly wax with the right stuff you'll be able to fly by skiers on all but the stickiest of spring crud.

And when I say waxing, I mean doing it yourself. Too many shops do really inferior work. If you must use a shop, keep a small structure brush with you. A credit card can be used in a pinch as a scraper. The bane of speed is wax left on the board.


I think the reason moguls suck for snowboarders is because they're traditionally made from skiers carving.


more specifically, from bad skiers not carving.


I don’t think it actually is easier, from my experience based on learning years ago on a school trip, where a lot of people skied and about a dozen of us boarded. It seemed that the beginner skiers were able to navigate more of the resort faster than us boarders over the first two or so days. But after about three days with a lesson in the morning and riding on our own all afternoon, the difference had pretty much disappeared, and the more adventurous of us of either type were doing intermediate difficulty runs pretty easily.

So apart from the first couple of days, I don’t think it really makes that much difference.

The biggest difference to me, I have to admit, is that once you get the hang of it, snowboarding feels cooler and more fun than skiing looks (to me), but I’m sure skiing is a lot of fun too (especially if you want to go very fast, which is a lot easier on skis)! But for the first day or two of boarding, you spend a lot of time on your butt and falling over!


Snowboarding is faster to pick up because the approach you take to the sport is different than for skiing.

Skiing is all about not falling. Falling on skis is no fun and results in having to walk up the slope to find your skis. After your first season, you'll often go entire years with only a fall or two. And those hurt, so you avoid them.

Snowboarding is a sport where you fall all the time, even as an expert. There are no consequences to doing so, apart from maybe picking your hat up, so the best plan is to simply go for it and see what happens. If you bite it, you bounce back up before you even come to a complete stop and keep going.

Naturally, it hurts a lot the first season. But you get good fast. I skied for like 10 years before picking up snowboarding. And I was better at snowboarding within the first season.


I disagree there are no consequences. Broken ribs have been known to occur.[0]

[0] https://www.viarob.com/my/page/Snowtorturing


I used to be a snowboarding instructor (I don't ski though). I'd say you can quickly be able to go on all kind of slopes. Beginner/intermediate skiers tend to have a harder time in powder or steep slopes. However, snowboarding beginners tend to fall much more often, the first days can be very tiring. I'd recommend avoiding learning on hard snow. If you can, make sure you you go in the mountain when the snow is fresh. And much much better to have an instructor.


Just a warning, snowboarding is traditionally considered more difficult for beginners than skiing. This is mostly because your legs are in fixed positions, so you have fewer independent points of contact with the ground (so balance is worse).


It's way easier for a beginner to crash on a snowboard than on skis. The difference is that it's way easier to crash really hard on skis than it is on a board.

Once you catch an edge or slide out on a board, you're on the ground. I've seen skiers fall back on to their skis and rocket down the hill uncontrolled.


I skied for 15 years before I learned to snowboard. I have never fallen so hard as when I was first learning to snowboard!

The other downside is not being able to traverse flat terrain, which is more or less important depending on the resort you are at.


My experience has been the opposite. Skiing is easier at slow speeds and has a shorter learning curve, but takes a lot longer to get good. Snow boarding has a higher learning curve and is harder at slow speeds, but once it clicks you can do most anything on the mountain in a couple of days.

Skiing was intuitive and my body wanted to do enough of the right thing to get me down most of the beginner slope with little "learning". Snowboarding felt unnatural so i had to fight my bodies natural instincts. The trick with snowboarding is to go faster than feels comfortable at first because it is much easier when you have momentum.


> way you have to lean with snowboarding felt unnatural so i had to fight my bodies natural instincts.

I had the same feeling with skiing.

1. Lean forward to stop and get control when ur instinct is to lean back to stop the glide.

2. lean on the opposite side of where you want to go, you want to lean in the same direction.

etc


You might want to consider where you'll be learning - if the area has a lot of drag lifts then they can be miserable for snowboarders.


Snowboarding is the best, but whoever told you that is steering you wrong. Skiing is much easier to learn.

Lessons will definitely help shorten the learning time but be prepared for your first 3-5 days to be a painful experience if you're snowboarding. If you only go 3-5 days a season you're probably going to have a much better time on skiis.


This may be true if you're in pretty good shape and have pretty good balance. If you're not fitter than an average 20 something I think skiing is probably easier as a beginner.


on skis, it's very possible to go down a blue confidently on day 1. on a snowboard, that's very unlikely.


I know people who have skied for years and aren't confident enough to do that.


ok. it doesn't mean it's not very possible


If you're a snowboard romantic, I HIGHLY suggest listening to the "How I built this" podcast episode with Jake Burton, the founder of Burton snowboards.

It's an incredibly moving and honest look at the beginnings of the sport.


Get or rent a copy of "Lines" It is a board flick about making board flicks but has a ton of historical footage and interviews in there. And any of the early Ticket to Ride's.

Burton deserves many kudos but there are/were a lot of others who did as much to advance the sport. Few have the longevity and balls of Jeremy Jones and it really hurt losing Craig Kelly as just two examples.


Jake Carpenter according to apple podcast app.


For context his full name is Jake Burton Carpenter, the company is his middle name.


This is a great in-depth guide. I wonder if there's anything like it for skiing. I'm a life-long skier and about the only thing that seems appealing about snowboards to me is the more comfortable boots.


I grew up waterskiing, so when I moved to the mountains, I thought I'd pick up snow skiing easily.

I did o.k., but after a few years I still hadn't gotten that "flow".

After a few years of skiing, I tried boarding and got "flow" the second day when there was 12 inches of fresh pow, even though I still sucked at it.

Immediately switched and haven't looked back. Several years later, it dawned on me that waterskiing is done on a single ski, so it is much closer to snowboarding. Your feet are just at a different angle. Seems obvious in hindsight.


> it dawned on me that waterskiing is done on a single ski

Isn't waterskiing on a single ski called wakeboarding? Where I grew up in Florida plenty of people waterskiied on 2 skis.


You learn on 2, then move to 1 aka slalom as you have far more manuverability.

Wakeboards and skurfers (if those are still around) are wider than a slalom ski and don't have both feet facing forward. They are closer to a snowboard.

But I find the most fun behind a boat is on a regular surfboard.


There are single (slalom) water skis, they are different from wakeboards.


After having a titanium plate surgically attached to my wrist, I heartily recommend sitting in the lodge by the fireplace and playing Alto’s Adventure instead.


My main tip is to get good at falling without hurting yourself, which mostly means don't stand up too straight. Stay a bit crouched, even when going straight. Then, if you do catch an edge, you won't get quite the body slam, and it'll be easier to get up and try again. The downside is this will burn out your quads.


Surprised such a comprehensive guide for geeks didn't get into bluetooth headphones! As a rider for a few years now, I've had good luck with the headphone inserts which fit into most helmets. Riding with your favorite music truly feels like playing the best of games and sports combined.


Not a fan of riding with headphones for one main reason. You won't hear other people yelling for help. This is especially important when you ski off piste at west coast resorts. I never want to accidentally miss something yelling for help or blowing their whistle in a tree well. If you're an east cost skier, this is probably less important.

Also, it's infrequent, but I have avoided a few collisions because people yelled out at me when I was popping out of the trees onto a piste.


How many seasons do those things last? I thought about buying some, but the i felt like the batteries would die over summer, and I'd be lucky to get more than one season out of them.


The Chips Helmet Audio has lasted me over 8 seasons and going strong. I don't maintain the batteries (I believe they should be stored with a 75% charge during off season) and still get enoigh charge for 2 full days of riding.


Might have to get some. Thanks!


Headphones plus a couple beers in my backpack, can never forget those.

I notice once I get a few beers in me I'm much better.


I don't know the first thing about snowboarding (despite living in one of the snowiest cities in the US), but this seems like a fantastic guide. Hits just the right level of detail to get you started without being totally overwhelming. Does anyone know of similar guides for other hobbies?


Is there an equivalent for skiing?


If you fine one, I'm very interested. Please share.

This article has great content! But at best I'm amateur skier not a snowboarder.


There is so much to geek out on with skiing, probably much like anything new.

A few years ago I moved to Austria. Last year my young son wanted to start skiing, so in my mid-40s I'm also learning.

The amount of time I researched which skis and boots to buy would easily be above 40 hours. Then searching the Internet for the best bargains again added more time.

Pretty much after just one season, I'm now into waxing my own skis. Another total geek activity. So many different waxes for different conditions.

Then watching the weather and trying to figure out where the best snow will be for next weekend, that has to qualify as geek.


I got my passion for snowboard with 26. I got to get myself busy somehow during Winter time on the Swiss/French Alps.

However nowadays I seldom do it, as I fear to suffer a 2nd injury and recovery from the first one wasn't that fun.


Yes! Go snowboarding! You'll never be as good as the guys in the videos but you'll definitely be able to feel what they feel! Super fun!


Wish they had the same article for skiing!


+1 for heat fitted boots. If you find that your feet are hurting, fit is key.


How it is targeting geeks in particular?


Would be nice to be able to get my carve somewhat close to Knapton's at some point in my existence.


I have snowboarded for 20 years.

Wear a helmet.

Seriously WEAR A HELMET.


Its funny but the way I tell western riders is they rarely wear helmets.


TL;DR As a former instructor and full-time programmer:

1 Get a lesson. Keep your knees bent, lead your turns with your arm and front knee.

2 Blues are easier to learn on then greens because the pitch helps you stay up. I have gotten overweight / out of shape older guys from LA, that have never even seen snow, to be confident riders in a day using this trick and the 'falling leaf' method.

3 The first two days will be painful generally, stick with it because once it 'clicks' you will have so much fun!


I'm not a certified instructor but have taken out many a novice the past 20 years. I'm not fond of the 'lead with your arm' point as I've seen way too many beginners with arms flopping all over the place and instead prefer arms and hands kept quietly at the sides. If they get into high speed or euro-style carving, then yes arm positioning is more in play.


Snowboarding is an ass-buster. Someone needs to invent an air bag for the rear.


They have them actually. Well, not the air bag, but they have pants with padding. My friend cracked his tailbone riding, and I said, "screw that" and spent the money on Demon FlexForce pants. Best money I ever spent (well outside of the helmet).


Yes! an ass-helmet.


If you’re feeling frugal and not particularly proud, you can cut to fit one of those foam rubber sleeping pads that folks use for camping when they don’t want to swing for a Thermarest, and tape the cuts into the rear and knees of your snow pants. It doesn’t look great, but it looks a heck of a lot better than bruising.


It is for beginners - you get over that. Learning how to fall by kind of sitting helps.

When I lived in Chamonix a lot of the enthusiast boarders had fractured spines - now there's one to avoid. Mostly from going over cliff like drops by error, off piste.


just learn to ride, then you wont have this problem. As an advanced snowboarder i can go all day without touching but to snow, without problem.


That requires a learning process.


Anyone have a similar guide for skiing?


This is an awesome guide!




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