A “eurocarve” is really a trick performed on a carving board, a turn in which the rider slides the upper body across the snow on toeside and at least the hips on heelside. Such turns usually require good conditions to execute because they depart from what is generally considered “good technique.”

Normally, in order to hold an edge and not skid or fall, the body’s mass must be directed over the inside edge. This is achieved by forming angles with your body. The hips and knees are directed inward, toward the snow and in the direction of the turn in order to put the board on edge. At the same time, the shoulders are directed outward, downhill and away from the snow and parallel to the slope, toward to outside of the turn. The hips and shoulders are twisted forward and aligned perpendicular to the board on toeside, and with the stance angles on heelside. Finally,  the knees and ankles flex deeply as the turn progresses. All of these movements help to create a steep edge angle and to maintain pressure on the edge at the same time, so it won’t skid or pop out of the snow.

“Euro-carves” are what we call banked turns, where the legs remain straight and extended, with the body’s center of mass positioned away from the board edge. Clearly, the steeper the slope and the harder the snow, the more difficult it will be to hold an edge with such an extreme position. But in the right conditions (smooth, soft, groomed corduroy on a fairly steep pitch), a skilled rider can execute a perfect carve with the side or chest, and one or both arms and hands, sliding across the snow, on both toe and heelside.

When performing such maneuvers, it is important to approximate sound technique as much as possible. Moves such as reaching down to touch the snow with the inside hand don’t cut it. By doing that, edge angle is reduced and/or pressure is released and the board tends to skid or pop out. I visualize the “euro” turn as exaggerating good technique to the maximum extreme. With both hands, elbows and arms on the snow, the shoulders remain parallel to the slope; indeed, they are ON the slope. So even in such an extreme position, enough edge pressure can be maintained in to execute a perfect carve,  so long as the snow is forgiving. A good (but not extreme) pitch helps, too; you don’t have to lean over so far before you touch the ground.


“Grownup snowboarder.” A contradiction in terms? Isn’t snowboarding a sport for rebellious adolescents with died hair and pierced body parts, wearing tee shirts and elephant sized pants, doing impossibly contorted tricks in a half-pipe? It may surprise some hard core skiers and skeptics that the answer to both of these questions emphatically is “No.”

It is true that the punk stereotype is what most outsiders of the sport consider to be the image of a “snowboarder.” But while young people dominate in terms of numbers, they are not the whole picture and actually are relative newcomers to the sport. Before snowboarding became a popular fad, attracting this “new-school” from a skateboarding and street background, there were the “old-school” and “alpine” riders.

The old-school pioneers have been snowboarding since as far back as the days when few, if any, ski areas allowed boards – 10 or 15 or more years ago. Some, but not all, have a skiing background. Generally, they don’t confine themselves to the half-pipe as do most of the new-schoolers. They use the whole mountain, as do skiers, favoring powder, back country, steeps, chutes, and cliffs, while using free-riding boards with soft boots. And, as their name implies, they certainly aren’t kids anymore.

Alpine riders are the smallest minority, many of whom are current or former skiers. They rarely, if ever, venture into the half-pipe, and are fond of traveling at high speed on groomed trails, slicing deep ruts into the snow. You won’t find them skidding sideways or sitting in groups in the middle of the trail. With traditional ski-looking clothing, often a helmet, hard shelled boots and stiff, narrow, directional carving boards, they occupy a misunderstood middle ground: disdained as “skiers” by the new-school, yet shunned as “snowboarders” by two plank die-hards. It is this group which attracts most of the “grownups” from the over 35, baby boomer generation.

Consider this profile. You are a boomer who has been skiing since you were a kid. You have the experience and skill to ski most anywhere on the mountain. But face it, your knees can’t take the pounding of those moguls the way they used to; two or three runs in the bumps exhaust your energy for the rest of the day. And you are becoming cautious and maybe even a little tentative on those steep chutes you used to blow down with abandon. At your age, you quite prefer rapid cruising on Giant Slalom boards over groomed corduroy. Truth to tell, however, after 20 or 30 years on skis, much of the challenge and a healthy dose of the thrill is gone.

It is while on the groomed runs, or riding the lifts above them, that you have noticed the alpine snowboarders, linking graceful, surgically carved turns that, as a matter of physics, simply are not possible on skis. These riders don’t just drag their knuckles; they are able, in the right conditions, to slide their hips, knees or entire body across the snow as they cleave crisp, perfect arcs. Much as you resist, they have piqued your curiosity. You may even have tried those “parabolic,” “shaped” or “super-side cut” skis being marketed so heavily these days. But you find that while they may approximate a true carved turn better than your traditionally shaped skis, they are pale imitations of an alpine snowboard. The difference between them is analogous to water skiing: no matter how adept a skier is on two planks, he or she will be unable to change direction as quickly and precisely, or to achieve the edge and body angles, as with both feet mounted on a single surface, one behind the other.

So you are persuaded to try snowboarding, and you now understand that this doesn’t mean that you have to pierce your ears, buy outlandish new clothing, and go through a mid-life crisis. How should you proceed?

Before purchasing equipment, I advise the beginning snowboarder to rent or demo both boots and boards. The snowboarding learning curve starts out slowly, then skyrockets; needs and tastes will change drastically over a short span of time. Renting a variety of different boots and boards during the learning process is educational as well as economical.

The first board should a symmetrical all-mountain “free-riding” board of between 135 and 160 cm., depending upon the size of the rider. Borrowing your friend’s stiff, unforgiving racing board with the bindings mounted at a 60 degree angle, or your daughter’s soft, tiny twin-tip freestyle board with the bindings mounted “duck stance” (both feet angled outward), is not recommended. Rely on the expertise of a knowledgeable shop tech to fit the proper boots, board and bindings, and to adjust stance width and angles, to suit your personal needs according to age, height, weight, strength and ability.

At the time boots and boards are chosen, a crucial decision must be made: which foot forward? Some new riders have participated in such similar sports as water skiing, surfing or skate boarding, and already know. If you are unsure, the following exercise usually works to ascertain the dominant leg: with a running start, slide across a linoleum floor in your stocking feet. Instinctively, one leg usually is thrust forward for balance, while the stronger leg remains behind for support. This should accurately determine your snowboard stance.

As with undertaking most new endeavors, lessons are highly recommended. Taking the lift to the top of the mountain cold-turkey definitely is not. No matter how coordinated, strong, and balanced you may be, prepare for a humbling experience your first time out. Expect a few face and fanny plants; anticipate some bruises and sore muscles. Some beginners even wear protective padding on their wrists, knees, elbows, and posterior; in-line skating equipment works well. Competent, experienced instruction will minimize the struggle and maximize a swift progression from tumbling to turning. Snowboard lessons geared to adults, such as the Delaney Snowboard Camp increasingly are available at most resorts and help make the learning process successful and enjoyable for the mature set.

Generally, the baptism by fire that a new snowboarder experiences is short lived. In comparing the learning curves of skiing and snowboarding, it is said that “skiing is easy to learn and hard to master, while snowboarding is hard to learn and easy to master.” In both sports, the initial task is the ability to turn in both directions in order to control the rate of descent. This usually is more quickly accomplished on skis, where balance is easier to maintain with two legs moving independently rather than being attached simultaneously to one surface. But once turning is assimilated, the progression from awkward novice to steady intermediate to confident expert is markedly faster on a snowboard. It is not unusual to advance from floundering on the mildest bunny hill to carving deep trenches on groomed black diamond terrain in a single season.

Finally, some comments about injuries. Beginner snowboarders typically sustain more injuries to their upper body, such as thumbs, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, which absorb much of the forces in falls. Ankle and foot injuries also are prevalent for riders in soft boots. Caution and common sense during the learning phase, as well as using protective guards and pads, should help to minimize their occurrence. Once the beginner stage is passed, the rate of snowboarding injuries drops significantly, and liklihood of knee injuries is much less than for skiers. Having both feet attached to one board with bindings specifically designed not to release prevents the independent twisting of the legs and torsional stress associated with injuries to knee ligaments common in skiing.

So, to all of you grownups, adults, and over the hill oldsters: be adventurous, be bold, be outrageous. On your next visit to your favorite resort, follow your kids on a snowboard. You won’t be disappointed.


Well, those are terms which sort of defy definition. Some argue it’s a riding style, others that it’s an attitude, still others that it’s nothing at all. Here are a couple of selected posts which express the opinions of their respective authors:

Guys from Old School probably started boarding around the mid to late 80’s when the Burton Safari and the 1st generation Sims ATV came out. At this point in boarding, we were running our back foots kind of straight across with Sorels. The “trend” at this stage was to evolve boarding to a more ski/high tech thing. Stances were going tighter and more angled, hard boots were getting more consideration (I’m sure old Damian helped out here..), and asym’s were starting to flood the market. This is not to say “freestyle” and pipe riding was declining. However, sometime later (92?), there was a backlash towards more trick oriented boarding with heavy emphasis on bilateral abilities. In order to be fully symmetrical with a lot of fakie oriented moves, the board really requires a rider to have his feet straight across, wide for stability, and the board to be fully symmetrical (did barf make the first real “twin-tip” board?) Thus, boarding reverses its trend and this is where I believe “New School” arrived. I remember the days when guys would laugh at you if you rode a perpendicular stance. Anyway, that’s how I view it.

I was always under the impression that the difference lies mainly in tricks and overall style. Old school tends to be big on huge air, grabs, a nice carvey riding style, bigger boards, freeriding, etc., while new school tends towards shorter twintip boards, flatland tricks, spins, a really wide stance, lots of time spent in the park as opposed to freeriding the slopes, etc. (A lot of this difference is reflected in skateboarding, I’m told by a friend who’s been skating since the mid-80s.) >…is it as trivial as the old bunch of stylin’ snowboarders turning 20, and thus ceasing to be relevant? 🙂 Well, yeah, that too, probably… 🙂

When I started riding there were no freestyle bindings. I’ve stayed pretty up to date with the technology though, and ride a fully symmetrical Barfoot (a recent one, not the one from the 80’s) with pretty much 0/0 stance angles. But I still consider myself “Old School” when I have to make the comparison (and I don’t like to), because I consider the difference to be mostly an attitude thing. Perhaps this may be inaccurate, but I’ve always associated “New School” with the whole lame, commercial, gangster imitating, skier dissing, baggy pant wearing crowd of (worm)heads who have of late started giving the sport a bad name and sparked quite a few closures to snowboarders around the country. Just my $.02 worth. Take it or leave it.

When it comes to repairing gouges and “dings” in bases the correct process depends on how the base was originally made; there are two different methods of manufacturing the polyethylene used for bases. Extruded bases are made by melting pellets and forcing the material through a nozzle of the required size to form sheets of the desired thickness. The resulting base material is very easy to repair, but equally easy to damage. Very few boards are made with extruded bases. Maybe some of the cheap Kmart type boards, etc. Sintered bases are made by slowly heating powdered polyethylene under great pressure. The result is a block (sort of like a big wheel of cheese) that is then skived (cut) to form the base material. This method costs about three times as much as producing extruded bases. Sintered bases are much higher in molecular weight; with increasing molecular weight, abrasion resistance and wax absorption is increased.

While it’s great to have a base that won’t get gouged as much, it is a lot harder to fix. Repair candles contain a whole bunch of stuff other than polyethylene, like wax and things to make it able to burn at a low temperature. It won’t stick to sintered bases. Snow, especially granular snow, can be very abrasive (how ’bout that last bloody face plant you/I did!). You can scrape out a drip repair with your fingernail. Depending on the size, depth and location of the damage there are three repair methods, using pure polyethylene, that can restore the base to as good as new (or almost): using an extruder, a plastic welder or putting in a base patch. For each of these methods to work right it is important to heat the surrounding (good, clean) base material also so it will bond securely to the repair material. It is also more difficult (than with drip candles) to remove the extra material that is left above the surface of the base. Unfortunately, the tools to do the job are expensive and not practical for most people to own. If it is more than some small scratches, it is worth having a good shop do the work.



Most of us have heard it before: “Boarders suck, they scrape off all the snow.” “They cruise in packs and scare the women and children.” “The baggy clothes are used to conceal weapons of mass destruction.” “They ruin the moguls.” “When they carve, they leave deep ruts in the snow.” “Boarders have an attitude problem.” “How does a boarder introduce himself? Whoa (crash), sorry dude.”

Rather than attempt to prove some point one way or the other, listed below are several facts and conclusions, it is a debate that will not be solved here. – The outward trappings of the snowboard culture are alien to most skiers, much like the tie-dyed clothes and long hair of the 60’s. – Snowboarding is here to stay: it’s an Olympic event, PSIA certifies snowboard instructors, 97% of U.S. resorts allow it, more than half of American resorts cater to boarders with half- pipes, its growth rate is over 10%, and the list goes on and on. – With such a huge growth rate there are a lot of beginning boarders out there. – Most boarders love their sport dearly and have money to spend. On average a boarder is on the slopes 3 times(!) as often per year as the average skier. – The sport is about 12 years old since steel edges came into use, this hasn’t given the boarder population time, relative to the skier population, to attain advanced skill levels. – The average age of the boarder population is increasing from 18, 4 years ago, to about 21 now. – Some people (especially young adolescent males) will occasionally get in over their heads and be on slopes they have no business being on.

Beginning snowboarders scrape off powder and so do beginning skiers. The issue is beginners and skill level. They both fall down on their butts a lot, and you see them sitting there either on the side or the middle of the run taking up real estate. – Some snowboarders have an “attitude” problem. Actually, we (the net) have concluded that, it’s not specifically boarders, it’s an artifact of hormone charged, adolescent males. So indict them. Deal with them. The consensus is that some people were buttheads well before they chose which way they would go down the mountain. – Snowboard discrimination is like blaming a car for driving out of control instead of the driver. Let’s face it there are weird people out there on every vertical descent device. It is the person, not the sport they are engaged in. Snowboarding is growing big time. It is in the spotlight. For every outlaw snowboarder, who cuts you off, and is in the limelight, there are a bunch who are civil and law abiding.

No. It’s fairly even, skiers and boarders have about the same number of injuries but those injuries are different. You are much less likely to sustain knee injuries while snowboarding than skiing. There has been a recent study on snowboarding injuries. The study was done in Australia and appears in “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 701-704. In this article comparisons between skiing and boarding injuries are documented for a 4 year period. The distilled info goes something like this: skiers are much more likely to injure their knees, and when they do injure their knees the injury is usually worse (grade II or III, if that means anything to you) than a boarder’s knee injury (usually only grade I or II, with only one grade III reported during the course of the study). Boarders are more likely to injure their ankles, feet, wrists, and hands. There is also info in the article about soft boot injuries vs. hard boot injuries. The study aside, though, you can pretty much understand just from looking at a board why there are fewer knee injuries. When you fall you pretty much either go straight back on your bum, or straight forward on both knees (or hands if you stick them out (hence the increased # of wrist injuries). It is really hard to torque your knee when your feet remain locked in place.

(Following, compliments of Surfdog789) After seeing Dave Schutz bibliography, I checked out Medline for more articles. The abstract (summary) that follows is interesting [from Am J Sports Med (US), Sep-Oct 1993, 21 (5) p701-4]: “Information on the rate and spectrum of snowboarding injuries is limited. This 4-year prospective study at 3 major Australian ski resorts assesses incidence and patterns of snowboarding injuries, particularly in relation to skill level and footwear. Ski injury data were collected for the same period. In a predominantly male study population (men:women, 3:1) 276 snowboarding injuries were reported; 58% occurred in novices. 57% of injuries were in the lower limbs, 30% in the upper limbs. The most common injuries were sprains (53%), fractures (24%), and contusions (12%). Comparing skiers’ versus snowboarders’ injuries, snowboarders had more fractures to the upper limbs, fewer knee injuries, and more ankle injuries. Ankle injuries were more common with soft boots….. Knee injuries and distal tibial injuries were more common with hard boots… Overall, novices had more upper limb fractures and knee injuries; intermediate and advanced riders had more ankle injuries. Falls were the principal mode of injury. To prevent injury, beginners should use soft boots and take lessons.” All I can say is – never mind the danger, just think of the fun!

That said, snowboarding takes a lot more out of ya than skiing. On skis you can widen your stance and coast on flats, and take it easy. In snowboarding, there is no taking it easy. You always have to be in a carve, toe or heel edge. If you flat board it, that is when you are likely to catch an edge and do a real hard body slam fall. These hurt. On traverses, often boarders have to ride on one edge for a long time. It is like trying to stand on your tip toes for a continuous period of time. It is quite fatiguing, even if ya flip and ride fakie to relieve it. At any rate, this exhausts riders, and makes them need to rest more than skiers. That is why we sit down a lot. Also freestylers like to sit and plan there next trick, or air, or what ever. All skiers and snowboarders should always rest on the side of the trail, not under a lift, and so as to be seen from above. A lot of boarders, never have taken a lesson and been told this safety info. A lot of them are younger and just are not tuned in or aware.

It’s very difficult to stand still on a snowboard. If you want to be stationary on a slope, you would have to balance, much like a bicyclist balancing when stopped at a stoplight. Because the bindings don’t release, about the only way to stay still is to sit.

Editor: On a personal note, I attended a snowboard camp where one of the instructors (Chris Karol) who had been a pro for 10 or so years never sat down. In the 2 days I was there I never saw him fall or touch the snow with any part of his body except his hand. If he had to stand in one place for more than a couple minutes he’d unbuckle his rear foot (he was wearing hard shells). When he came to a stop, he’d sort of dig his edge in and balance there, regardless of how steep the slope was. The snow was pretty soft so that helped. The point is, using strength and balance, it is possible not to have to sit down.


A good point to keep in mind here is that snowboarding doesn’t have to be painful. Taken slow and with the right guidance boarding can be quicker to learn than skiing. PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) and CSF (Canadian Snowboard Federation) now certifies snowboard instructors and most resorts which allow boarding will have instructors on staff. Most boarders who have also skied agree that boarding is initially more difficult than skiing but after learning the basics the intermediate and advanced levels are achieved more quickly.

Edging and balancing skills are more important from the outset because your feet are secured, you can’t step from foot to foot, and you don’t have the use of poles as skiers do. Snowboarders fall differently than skiers do. Where skiers tend to fall to the right or left snowboarders fall forward or backwards onto their face or butt. It is best in a forward fall to fall to the knee and forearm (do not stiff arm on the palms) and then lift the board in the air until you stop. In a backwards fall it is best to go to the butt and roll onto the back, keeping the chin in your chest, lift board until you stop. Learn to ride with fingers in a fist, to avoid finger smashing. And why not have releasable bindings? Most boarders would disagree with the use of a releasable binding, the board is relatively short, most ride a 150-170 cm length board, and the idea of going down a hill with one foot released and one not is a very scary thought.

Most ski areas require snowboards to have metal edges, leashes, and secure bindings. The newer boards are far easier to use than anything made prior to about 1988. Boards today are lighter, easy to turn and comfortable to ride. If the board your friend is letting you use to learn on has a split tail, center fin, solid high-back bindings, bindings with nylon straps, or a stance very off center towards the rear of the board find a new friend, or rent. Use a boot designed for boarding. How would you like to learn to downhill ski in hiking boots? The right boots give your ankles much needed support and alleviate pressure points from the straps or buckles. A beginner should learn on an all-around or alpine board with high-back bindings and a firmer soft boot or hybrid boot. Hard boots and step-in bindings are not recommended because of the increased difficulties of balancing, turning, skating and using lifts. There now are a few books out there on snowboarding which include how to sections written by professionals.

The reason to start with the rear foot out is twofold: 1) It is not natural to have both feet locked down. We are bi-peds with independent leg action to move. When trying anything new it is best to take baby steps to learn. Putting only the front foot in, lets a person try stuff while still using their rear foot in an independent way as sort of a training wheel. You do this on only slightly sloping almost flat terrain, so that the person gets the feel of the board, builds their confidence up, and so that their muscles start to memorize how to turn a snowboard. Baby steps. 2) The 2nd is way more practical. We have to cruise around a lot with only one foot it. Traverses, lifts, etc. It is just good and necessary to learn how to move around with only one foot in. Think of it as skateboarding on snow just to get the feel of the board and lock down the proper stance (weight on front foot).

I see people each week on our bunny slope, bag on lessons, go to the top, strap both feet in, go for it. 9 times out of ten they go too fast, sit way back, wipe out, can’t turn. A bunch give up. Give up on a very fun sport, even before they have given it an honest try. The best way to learn is in a lesson.

The best ingredients of a lesson are:

0) Stance: Natural athletic stance. Feet about shoulder width apart, angles of about 15 in front and 0 in back usually work well. Knees bent, kind of posed like your going to box somebody. If you jump up an come down in a boxer ready stance you will usually land in the proper stance naturally.

1) Front foot in: walk around. Skate and slide like a skateboard. Weight on front foot.

2) Front foot in: Straight run. Climb up on almost flat terrain. Push off. Glide straight down to a stop. Weight on front foot.

3) Front foot in: Direction change. While doing straight run, with weight on front foot, look and point with front hand in the direction you want to turn. heel then toe, then combo. If you have trouble, make a motion like you’re opening and walking through a left handed, then right handed door.

4) Lift: Watch people get on. Talk about getting off. Just do a straight run or slight direction changes as before as you get off. Lean forward. Do not put rear foot on snow, put it on the stomp pad if you have one or right in front of rear binding.

5) Strap in. Side slip. straight down on heel edge or toe edge. Need a moderate incline. Balance weight over edge. Smooth changes. Slide evenly – like spreading peanut butter on bread. Stay on uphill edge.

6) Garland: Move across the hill. Stay on uphill edge. Look up hill to slow down, look down hill to speed up. Do not make a full turn (edge change). Go across the hill, sit down, flip over, do on other edge. This is the best way to learn – teaches turning without massive speed build up in that no-mans land between turns.

7) Link turn: Do garland, but on very mellow terrain, bring board around to other edge, and proceed on the new garland. Flat board during transition. Patience. Terms: Front foot: The foot that is always secured to the board. Left for regular (righty) rider. Right foot for goofy (lefty) rider. Back foot: The foot that you remove from the board when walking around or getting on or off the lift. Toe side: The edge and direction on the side of the board where your toes are. Right for regular rider Left for goofy rider. A Toe side turn then is one where you are kind of up on your toes, heel in the air at the end of the turn. Heel side: The edge and direction on the side of the board where your heels are on. Left for regular riders. Right for goofy riders. A heel side turn then is on where your toes are in the air and you are balancing more on your heel at the end of the turn.

Common Problems:

1) Sitting back. Get your weight forward. Sticking your front hand out (left arm for regular, right arm for goofy) helps keep your weight forward. Do not stick your butt back to counter balance your arm being forward. Bend your knees and get you entire weight forward. If you start out slow on the flats and get confident on the board you will trust it and lean forward. If you are up on the hill and are leaning back, it typically means you are scared and went too fast. Go back to the start. The skateboarding moves at the beginning with one foot in should really lock in the mind and in the muscles that the board will only move correctly with the weight on the front foot.

2) Looking down: I always ask my students what color or pattern is on their board. ‘Good’ I say, now that you know you do not have to keep looking at it. Look where you are going, forward or to the left or right. You body will follow. When you look down, you tend to also lean back.

3) Locked front knee: Front leg straight. Need to bend it. Makes your weight back. If you have to, crouch down and stick your arm out, or grab your cafe with your front hand to stop this bad habit. This is a bad habit for a lot of snowboarders. Do not get into it at the start. If you go into a turn with a locked front leg, you could be a body builder and still not be able to bend your knee. The key is to go in with your leg bent and then go down from their. In snow boarding you never want locked knees.

4) Lift falls: Don’t put back foot on snow instead of board upon exiting lift. Don’t sit back.


This topic can be separated out into 2 categories: first, common sport specific terminology which can be used at school or the office without embarrassment and second the slang which is that part of the language used by boarders to form a group identity. Listed here are terms mainly from the first category:

ABS: Acrylonitrite Butadiene Styrene (Plastic used as snowboard topsheet)

Aerial maneuvers: method, stale fish, japan, ollie, revert, sidekick, heel/toe-edge grab, mute, crail, nose/tail grab, nuclear, rocket, 180-to-fakie, roast beef, slob air, canadian bacon, alley oop, two/one handed invert, j-tear,… All-around, All-mountain, All-terrain, Free-riding, Free- style, Alpine, Race, Half-pipe – Types of equipment and riding styles, see the board equipment section for details.

Base: The P-tex bottom of the board. Baseless Binding: A type of high-back binding which has no base. The rider’s boots contact the board directly on the top sheet. The bindings are secured via holes on the outside of the binding, not under the feet. Some advantages might be lighter weight, more natural board flex, and less distance between the rider’s feet and the board. Predominately used by freestyle riders.

Bevel Plate/Wedge: A shim placed under the binding to raise the heel relative to the toe.

Bladder and shell: most ski and snowboard boots are made of a supportive exterior shell and a removable interior bladder. The shell is closed with buckles or laces. The bladder may or may not have laces but normally has a tongue

Bonk: To tap something as the boarder flies over it. Ski resorts don’t like boarders to bonk trash cans, picnic tables, or skiers. Butt plant: corollary to face plant.

Camber: The built in curvature of a board, which can be seen as a space between the board and a table when the board is laid flat on a table; can be curved up like skis or down (rockered).

Cant Plate/Wedge: A shim placed under the binding to angle the foot towards the rider

Carve: Turning using weight shifting and without skidding

Core: The material the inside of the board is made of.

CSF: Canadian Snowboard Federation

Duck-Stance: A duck-footed stance where the feet are splayed outward, used for free-styling.

Effective edge/Contact edge: The length of edge which contacts the snow, or applies pressure, during a turn. Face plant: Falling on one’s face.

Fakie: Riding backwards, this term can not be applied to a totally symmetrical board with a centered stance where the feet are perpendicular to the edges, normally the feet are angled towards the nose of the board.

Fall line: The most direct line down a slope, the line a ball would follow if rolled down the hill.

Goofy/regular footed: Right foot towards the nose is goofy, left is regular. About half of all boarders ride goofy. Same terminology applies to skateboarding and surfing.

Grab: Any aerial maneuver where the board is grabbed by either or both hands.

Half-pipe: A trough cut into or built up with snow, term originates from skateboarding.

Heel edge: Opposite edge of the toe edge.

High-back binding: Generally used with soft or hybrid boots, see equipment section.

Inserts: Two methods exist to secure bindings to a board. An insert is a nut built into the board and a machine screw is then used to secure the binding. A big advantage of this method is the ease of moving the bindings, you don’t have to have a shop do it and the odds of a screw-up are low.

Jib: To ride on something other than snow, like logs, cars, hand rails, skiers, etc.

Leash: A safety strap for the case where the buckles of the binding accidentally release, required at most ski areas.

Newbie: A novice, someone new to a thing.

New-school: Newer more recent riding techniques, equipment, and equipment set-ups. These include very wide centered stances, short boards, and baggy clothes. New-school is generally only freestyle type riding since the equipment and stances preclude other types of riding. Nose or tip: That end of the board that the feet are angled towards.

Old-school: The techniques and equipment set-ups originated in the 80’s.

P-tex: Brand name of polyethylene used for the snowboard base material.

Plate binding: Used with hard shell boots, see equipment section.

PSIA: Professional Ski Instructors of America.

Rail: Side edge of a snowboard.

Retention Plate: The other method of securing bindings is like ski bindings, a sheet metal screw is used after tapping a hole into the board. It is referred to as plate retention because a metal plate is built into the board where the board will be tapped. Not used in boards made after about 1996.

Side-cut: The curvature of the edge towards the center of the board described by the radius of the arc of that curve.

Shin-strap: Optional binding strap on the high-back portion of a high-back binding, aids in applying edge pressure in toe-side turns.

Shred: Rip, jam, do way good snowboarding.

Shredder: One who shreds.

Sideslip: To slide or skid down a hill with the board perpendicular to the fall line.

Skate: To propel yourself by pushing with the rear foot which is out of the binding while the front foot is still attached.

Slope style: Freestyle, generally refers to tricks not done in the park and pipe.

Soft binding: Same as a high-back binding.

Stance: Refers to the position of the feet on the board.

Stomp or Skid pad: A pad attached to the board between the bindings where the rear foot can be set when its not in the binding.

Switch stance: A boarding stance in which the nose and tail are indistinguishable, there is no fakie, no forwards or backwards.

Symmetrical/asymmetrical: Refers to board design, see equipment section.

Tail: Back of the board.

Toe edge: That edge of the board the rider faces.

Top Sheet: The top layer of a laminated board, normally contains the graphics, the top layer of the board which can be touched.

Tweak: To become as distorted as possible.

Twintip: A board which is symmetrical front to back, can be ridden in either direction. See Switch stance.

Wall: Vertical section of a half-pipe.

3D: Burton’s 3 hole pattern of binding mounting. Each binding is secured by 3 screws. There are four different positions or settings of 3 holes for each binding. This allows easy stance adjustment. The 3D hole binding also is mounted on a disk that rotates for angle adjustment. 3D is only used by Burton, but an adapter is available to allow for 3D bindings to be used on the 4×4 hole pattern.

4×4: F2 originated 4 hole pattern of binding mounting. Each binding is secured by 4 screws. This allows easy stance adjustment. The 4×4 binding also is mounted on a disk that rotates for angle adjustment. A majority of non-Burton boards and bindings use the 4×4 pattern. Some 4X4 bindings can be mounted on the Burton 3D pattern without modification.

Board length: Some rental shops use the rule of thumb that a board should touch between the beginner’s chin and nose. Every board feels different when you ride it. You might like a 155 of one model and a 165 of another. Like everything else, there are no hard and fast rules. Rent to begin with and try to demo your equipment before you buy.

Board width: Board width, usually measured as waist width, plays an important role in how the board works for a particular rider. Ideally the boot toe and heel are even with the board’s edges. A little toe overhang is OK but too much and the toe (or heel) will dig into the snow when turning, greatly affecting control. If the toe and heel are too far in from the edge then getting the board onto it’s edge becomes much more difficult, requiring excessive force from the rider. There are 2 factors which will dictate what board width is optimal for you: stance angles and the sole length of your snowboard boots. If you ride with your feet straight across (0 degrees) then the board width at the binding locations should be close to the boot’s sole length. If you ride with your feet at 60 degrees then the board should be significantly narrower. The stock newbie advice: suitable for most new riders who don’t yet know whether they want to specialize in some particular area, and who don’t have knowledgeable friends at hand to help them.

Brands: Since you (presumably) don’t know anything about the manufacturers, stick to the large, reputable ones: Burton, Sims, Nitro, Morrow… They’ve been making quality product for ever, so you won’t get screwed.

Style: Buy a freeriding board (e.g. Burton A-Deck), soft boots, and soft bindings.

Setup: set your stance to 20″ wide, 1″ back from center, 30 degrees on the front, 15 degrees on the back. Learn to ride, then play with the stance to see what works for you.

New or Used: You can save a bundle with a used board. Buy one that isn’t too old (it has inserts in it instead of drilled bindings), isn’t too beat up (the base and edges look ok), and hasn’t been pounded to death (it still has camber). Learning to ride: take a lesson. Really. I don’t care how good your friend is, or what kind of wicked shit they can pull. They’re not trained in giving lessons. Save yourself some bruises, invest $20, and have a MUCH better time on your first day.

Disclaimer: Yeah, it’s a boring old-school setup. Guess why? It works. It’s not optimal for jibbing, or racing, or whatever, but it works great for learning. If I didn’t mention your fav’ brand, this is not intended to be a complete list, just a simple and reliable list. If you buy a Burton, Sims, or Nitro, it may or may not be the absolute best board possible (give or take taste) but it will NOT suck, and it will hold it’s resale value so you can sell it and buy something specialized later.

First off ask yourself how you stand if you surf, skateboard, or engage in some other sideways sport. You’ll probably want to use the same stance as in the sport you’ve already done.

It’s my observation that correlations between which way one snowboards and other handedness tendencies are weak at best. This is why there are so many “tests” for which way one should ride, and they all inevitably fail for some people. I prefer the “linoleum” test: in stocking feet, run towards your kitchen and skid across the linoleum floor. Observe which foot goes forward. Put that foot forward on your snowboard. This test can also be administered hillside by directing the student to the nearest icy sidewalk. Unlike other tests (shoving, jumping, kicking, baseball batting, cartwheels, etc.) this one directly tests you for your preferred stance in a balance sport (balance sport: something where you stand sideways on a deck, e.g. snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, etc.). Editor: Footedness is inevitably a trial and error decision when you start snowboarding. Unless you are sure what the correct stance is, try it both ways, it will be easy to decide after that. Even if a “test” suggests one way you may end up being more comfortable the other. There are 5 or 6 tests which could be listed here but some would show you should be regular and some would show you should be goofy.

First off, there are about 20 schools of thought and one needs to figure out which is for them, try something close, then dial it in. A newer board with the Burton 3 hole or F2 4×4 hole patterns or some types of adjustable plates make it real easy to adjust stances; these allow for maximum and easy stance changes.

Here are the average stances of pro riders from different snowboarding disciplines: stance front rear center board notes width angle angle length Half-pipe: 20.7″ 17 2 0.5″ back 152.5 cm – some boarders use negative rear angles (duck-stance) Freeride : 21.1″ 22 7 1.7″ back 170 cm Slalom : 17″ 49.2 47.2 0.4″ back 156.8 cm GS : 17″ 49.6 47.6 0.44″back 164.9 cm Super G : 17.16″ 49.4 47.4 0.45″back 170.5 cm SlopeStyle: 21.3″ 12 0 1″ back 152.9 cm – 0 rear on all riders (also known as freestyle) Angles are measured from 0 degrees being straight across. Center is the distance back from the center of the board to the center of the stance.


The history of the snowboarding industry is brief but the equipment evolution has been explosive. The boards, boots and binding styles sold in 85-86 aren’t even available today. Gone are the split tails, center fins, bolt-on metal edges, wide short bullet-shaped boards and non-supportive boots. Today there are no less than 65 snowboard equipment manufacturers (boards, boots, and bindings). The cost of snowboard equipment is very comparable to ski equipment with a wide range of costs and types.

Boards: Boards or decks are categorized into one of four groups: race, alpine, all-around/free-riding and half-pipe/free-style. They range in lengths from under 100 cm to over 200 cm. Their construction is nearly identical to skis; a board has metal edges, side-cut and camber. All of the same materials are used. The real differences are in the shapes and flex patterns. The term symmetry is used extensively in any discussion of boards. Because a board is ridden with one foot forward the turn dynamics are obviously different from a ski. A board can be symmetrical front to back and/or symmetrical side to side. Normally a ski is asymmetrical front to back and symmetrical side to side. Most boards have symmetry like skis. Reasons for different symmetry configurations include:

Front to back symmetry: Usually found in free-style and half-pipe designs, also called twintips. A board like this can be ridden in either direction with equal control and often has a centered stance. Asymmetrical and/or shifted side-cuts: Refers to asymmetry about the longitudinal centerline of the board. The side-cut shift is on the order of a few inches. The toe edge is shifted forward relative to the heel edge and accounts for the fact that the rider’s toes are nearer to the nose of the board than his/her heels. Because the toes are nearer the nose, the center of pressure (C.P.) applied to the edge is farther forward than the heel side C.P.. Additionally the side-cuts can be of different radii and the flex pattern can be asymmetrical. Boards with these characteristics are predominantly found in the race and alpine categories. An asymmetrical board is made to be ridden either goofy footed or regular footed therefore any board of this type comes in two shapes, one the mirror image of the other.

Race: These boards are used for downhill, GS and slalom racing. They tend to be stiff, narrow and long. They are designed for high speed use with long effective edges for carving turns. Alpine: These boards tend to target crossover skiers. The design of these boards reflects that of a ski with many of the same characteristics and many even look like fat skis.

All-around/Free-riding: This type of board is sometimes called all-terrain or all-mountain. They are designed for use in all snow conditions and most can even be ridden in the half-pipe very successfully. Maybe half of all boards sold in the U.S. are of this type.

Half-pipe/Free-style: These are boards designed for use in the half-pipe and for jibbing, bonking, and general freestyle moves. They tend to be more flexible with wider foot stances more centered on the board. The board probably has more nose and tail area and less effective edge than a board from the other categories. Boards in this category generally do not have good all-around utility because of their inability to hold an edge on hard snow and steep slopes. The board is generally more difficult to control due to the stance configuration.

Bindings: Three types of bindings are used in snowboarding: the high-back, plate, and the soft-boot step-in. The high-back is characterized by a vertical plastic back piece which is used to apply pressure to the heel-side of the board and with two straps which go over the foot. One strap holds the heel down and the other the toe. Some high-backs also have a third strap on the vertical back piece called a shin strap which gives additional support and aids in toe side turns. The plate or hard-boot binding is used with a hard shell boot much like a ski binding except it is non-releasable. The third type of binding is the soft-boot step-in. It is kind of a combination of the first two types listed. A soft-looking boot, which has significantly added support and a retention mechanism built into it. This retention mechanism engages with some type of latching device attached to the board.

Boots: Boots are categorized into 3 groups: soft, hard and hybrid. Soft boots evolved from Sorel and Sno-pac type boots and generally have lace up bladders and shells. The more flexible a boot the easier it is to perform contorted free-style maneuvers but ankle support and edge hold are compromised. The shells are made of rubber, leather and/or plastic and the bladders are similar to ski bladders except normally lace-up. Hard boots are like, but designed distinctly from, ski boots. They are used predominantly with race and alpine type boards and afford support and edge hold at the expense of flexibility. Ski boots don’t work well as snowboard boots because boarding puts drastically different pressures on the feet and hence the boots than skiing; lateral flex is desirable in snowboarding but to be avoided at all costs with skiing. Hybrids are those boots between the two extremes. They may have an all plastic shell where the plastic is thinner than on the hard boot and may be lace up vice buckles.

Clothes: There is a lot of clothing designed just for snowboarding. It tends to be reinforced in the knees, butt, shoulders, elbows, palms and fingers. Some clothing is even padded in the stress areas with foam or plastic. Considerations here should include these facts: a beginner spends a lot of time on his/her knees and butt, snowboarding will wear out a cheap pair of gloves in a few days due to the abuse, because of the bending down/sitting/falling, the clothes should not be binding, and the pants should be waterproof.