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.

1) How dangerous is snowboarding?

It’s about as safe or as dangerous as you want it to be. While there is always some inherent danger in the sport most problems are due to “pilot error”. Pay attention to posted signs… they’re there for a reason. Board in control. Don’t Board in closed areas. The injury rate for skiing has been fairly level at about 3 injuries per thousand skier-days. These injuries include everything from minor bruises and lacerations to broken necks. The most common injuries are thumb and knee injuries. Snowboarders experience about the same injury rate as skiers but the injuries tend to be to the wrist, ankle, and neck (refer to the injury section of this FAQ (8.11) for more info). You *cankill yourself snowboarding. You can also kill somebody else. Stay in control. That being said it should also be mentioned that you’re probably more likely to slip and fall in the parking lot…

2) What’s this “Your Responsibility Code” thing?

This use to be known as The Skier’s Responsibility Code but is now simply referred to as Your Responsibility Code. Rather than saying much *aboutit, we’ll just include it here. Note: This code is widely accepted in the United States… other countries may have similar codes. One netter reports that this code is similar to what’s posted in New Zealand.

Your Responsibility Code: Skiing can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas you may see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country or other specialized ski equipment, such as that used by disabled and other skiers. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the following code and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience. 1. Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects. 2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them. 3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above. 4. Whenever starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look uphill and yield to others. 5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment. 6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas. 7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Your Responsibility Code is endorsed by The American Ski Federation, National Ski Patrol, United States Ski Industries Association, Professional Ski Instructors of America, Cross Country Ski Areas Association, United States Ski Association, Ski Coach’s Association, and other organizations. The European countries have the FIS-rules (Federation International de Ski). They are a basis for courtroom decisions but are not laws. The FIS-rules are:

The FIS-rules: 1. Consideration of the other Skiers Every skier has to behave in a way he or she doesn’t endanger or damage any other. 2. Controlling of speed and way of skiing Every skier has to ski on sight. He has to adapt his speed and way of skiing to his abilities and the conditions of the terrain, the snow and the weather as to the traffic density. 3. Choice of track The skier coming from behind another has to choose his track so that skiers before him won’t be endangered. 4. Overtaking Overtaking is allowed from above or below, from right or left but always with a distance so that the skier being overtaken has space enough for all his movements. 5. Entering and restarting Every skier entering a trail or starting after a halt has to assure himself uphill and downhill of the fact that he can do so without danger for himself and others. 6. Stopping Every skier has to avoid stopping at small or blind places of a trail without need. A fallen skier has to free such a place as quick as possible. 7. Mounting and descend A skier mounting or descending by feet has to use the border of the trail. 8. Pay attention to signs Every skier has to pay attention to the marks and signs. 9. Behavior in case of accidents In case of accidents every skier has to help. 10. Duty of proving identity Every skier whether witness or involved, whether responsible or not has to prove his identity in case of an accident.

3) What is snowboarding? 

Snowboarding is the relatively new sport which can be visually compared to skateboarding and surfing except done on snow. The rider stands on the board with his/her left or right foot forward, facing one side of the board. The feet are attached to the board via high-back or plate bindings which are non-releasable. Although there is at least one manufacturer of releasable bindings, they are not widely used. The sport is distinct from monoskiing. In monoskiing both feet are side by side on a single ski and the skier faces forward. Some sports which have overlap in skills to snowboarding include: skurfing, skateboarding, surfing, water skiing and certainly snow skiing. In the following sections many comparisons are made to skiing because of its widespread familiarity. If unfamiliar with snowboarding terminology the reader should first refer to the What Is All This Weird Talk? section.

4) What is snowboard skiing? 

Simply put, it is the legal name for snowboarding. Probably contrived by the lawyers and the insurance companies sometime in the 80’s. The PSIA also refers to snowboarding as snowboard skiing. This means it has all the privileges and liabilities of alpine skiing. Legally speaking there is no technical difference between any form of skiing, including: telemark, cross-country, mono, downhill, snowboard, boot-skiing.

5) What is the history of snowboarding? 

Snowboarding became popular only in the last 10 years. It was pioneered in the late 70’s by a small group including Jake Burton Carpenter, Chuck Barfoot, and Tom Sims. All now head or have led snowboard companies with Burton being the largest snowboard manufacturer in the world. Burton gets most of the media’s credit for having incorporated the first high-back bindings, metal edges and snowboard boots into his line. All of the early pioneers were heavily influenced by surfboarding. The roots really start with the snurfer, that sled hill toy you may have ridden as a kid, shaped like a small water ski with a rope tied to the nose and a rough surface for traction from the center to the back where you stood. Sherman Poppin was the inventor of the snurfer which first appeared in the 1960s. As it turns out Jake Burton was involved in snurfer racing, a gag event put on by a group of bored college students. Well, he got the bright idea to put a foot retention device (little more than a strap at first) on his boards and began to win these events hands down. At about this same time several other people were busy inventing the sport. Jeff Grell is credited with designing the first highback binding. Demetre Malovich started Winterstick, which didn’t make it financially. He introduced several important factors early on in the sport like swallowtail designs, and laminated construction. Boots evolved from Sorels (TM) or Sno-pac type boots. Early “snowboard” boots were Sorel shells with ski boot type bladders. It was obvious that these early boots did not supply adequate support for the ankle and inhibited control of the boards. The first hard-shell “snowboard” boots were in fact ski boots. It didn’t take long for the first true hard-shell boot to be produced before the end of the eighties. Burton set up shop at Stratton Mountain in Vermont and by 1985 had incorporated steel edges and high-back bindings into his designs. The metal edges allowed use at regular ski resorts and the rest is hiss-toe-ree. In 1985 only 7 percent of U.S. ski areas allowed snowboards; today more than 97 percent do and over half have half pipes.

I am often asked by my clients if I snowboard, when I answer yes they often seem surprised. Not only do I snowboard, I am a fully certified snowboard instructor. I started riding very much by accident. I had a friend that wanted to try and I was talked into it. I became a very active snowbroader. I still spend most of my time on skis however, I think snowboarding is a skill worthy of the well rounded alpinist. These are some of my thoughts on why any skier my want to try snowboarding.

When it comes right down to it, snowboarding is much easier than skiing. There is a much higher learning curve. I would say that each day on a snowboard is equal to 3 or 4 days on skis. In one season it is very possible to become an advanced rider. I taught my wife how to snowboard so that she could keep up with me and all my friends. Having started skiing late in life there was no way she would ever fit in with a group of skiers who have been skiing their whole lives.

For me snowboarding offered a challenge that I did not get from skiing anymore. I will never ski like I did when I was twenty four, however each day I spend on a snowboard I do get better. Each year I spend on skis I am not really getting any better, I am just getting another year older.

Snowboarding is easier on the knees than skiing. After long days of hard skiing my knees get so sore I can hardly walk. Snowboarding does not do this to me. For the skier with bad knees snowboarding can provide a much needed break. Also snowboarding does not require as much physical effort as skiing does.

Snowboards are the ultimate tool for powder and carving. Skiing in deep powder is a skill that can take years to master. Snowboards glide though deep snow and crud with relative ease. Without shaped skis carving perfect arcs in the snow is something few skiers in the world can do. Perfectly carved turns can be accomplished with ease by any advanced rider.

So give snowboarding a try. Give yourself at least a few days. It will take that long to get past the point of constantly crashing. Yes you will crash, many, many, many times. Snowboards are not very forgiving at first, but stay with it and soon you will realize riding is actually very easy.

Good luck and have fun snowboarding!

In the old days (about ten years ago), we really did not know much about snowboard technique. Our understanding of technique came from knowledge that was borrowed from other sports, namely skiing. This did not seem to matter for many top riders, they just rode. They rode with each other, and pushed each other to new limits. Equipment was changing each season and technique was changing with it.

As a technician trying to understand what was going on, this was very difficult because the best riders did not always understand what they were doing. They just did it. The way they described what they felt did not always jive with what we saw on video. The models we used for understanding ski technique did not always work when analyzing snowboard technique. Technicians were creating new theories almost everyday to explain technique.

Maybe the most significant of these theories was that of pressuring an edge, or controlling pressure along an edge. This idea not only explains one of the major differences between skiing and snowboarding, but is a cornerstone of modern snowboard technique.

This is the idea; a snowboarder can edge and pressure a snowboard using the common edge and pressure control movements, but they can also control the pressure and edge along the length of the board. They do this by using their feet, ankles, and knees independently from each other. Edge changes and adjustments to edge angle do not have to occur with both feet at the same time, the same is true for changes in pressure. Lets look at how we apply this to different situations and levels of riders.

Lets start with a basic heel side side-slip. If edge and pressure are held equal with both feet the board will slip straight down the fall line. If we change the amount of edge with one of our feet things change. If we edge less with the front foot, the nose of the board will seek the fall line and start to move down the hill. In a heel side slip it is like stepping on the gas pedal. Whichever foot you step on the gas pedal with that will be the end of the board that wants to find the fall line. This is significant in that this movement allows us to control the board and initiate turns without gross movements of our center of mass. We can stay balanced on both feet. In the old days we thought this had to be done with weight shifts from foot to foot.

When linking turns edge movements are initiated with the front foot and followed with the back foot. This allows us to start the turn with more pressure on the edge at the front of the board and finish the turn with more pressure on the edge at the tail of the board without disturbing our balance. Taken to the extreme we could even finish the turn on the back of the board while beginning a new turn on the front. This ability to twist the board gives us a wide range of options to control the pressure along the edge, and the best part is we do not have to mess with our center of gravity to make it happen.

Exploring this idea further, it is not even necessary that the back foot follow the movements of the front foot. The front and back foot can edge opposite of each other. This can be helpful when making very short radius turns, such as in the bumps or on steep terrain. The front foot can hold an edge while the back foot helps the board come around.

This technique is used by most top riders. It is used in a wide variety if situations with the only differences being in timing and degree of edging. In powder it is not really needed but does not really hurt either. For alpine racers with narrow boards and extreme stance angles it does not work because edge movements are more lateral, but for most of us this is the way to ride.

Stick your arms out. Quit trying to look cool–stick your arms out (and forward) for balance. Yea, like a scarecrow. If you’re that worried about how you look, you probably don’t do moguls anyways, you wimp. I’ve read in the newsgroups to keep your back hand forward.

Use the bumps. The ridges that form the drops are the best place to rotate your board and change directions. Smaller bumps can be hit directly; aim your board right for the top and do a skid turn at the last moment to scrub off speed, then drop down (either toe-side or heel-side) into the next bowl, rotating your board to point down the hill again. On bigger, steeper moguls, look for the ridges that lead up to the top of the bumps and use them. Think of the ridges as pivot points and use them to scrub off speed when necessary.

A related technique that reminds me of “the beginner twist”: hit the top of the bumps in full twisting motion so that your momentum is going directly down the hill and you’re hitting bumps in front of you heel side and bumps behind you toe side (does that make sense?) But if bumps always lined up this well in real life, moguls would be easy…

In smaller moguls you can carve around bumps and avoid them, but this only works in some situations. Practice using the bumps by finding bumps on groomed runs. As you ride across the bump, unweight and change directions (i.e., heel side to toe side, or vis-versa).

In certain spots you have to commit to pointing your board down the hill (like between two narrow bumps); look ahead to the next ridge, bump, or flat spot where you can scrub off speed rather than worrying about the dip you have to drop into to get there. Another situation where it’s impossible to turn is when you are traversing the ‘pit’ between two bumps–you have to wait until you are higher up on the ridges before starting to rotating your board.

Look Ahead. When you’re in a mogul field, the terrain determines when and where you can turn. You can’t just turn when you want to–the moves you can make are dependent on the terrain, and so you always have to be looking one step ahead. Take it slowly and stay in control, only going as fast as you can plan ahead. If you’re moving faster than your ability, you’ll constantly end up in situations where you don’t want to be! If this is happening then work on your balance on groomed runs or smaller bumps. Practice short radius turns on groomed terrain, not looking at or thinking of the turn you’re in, but where your next turn will be. This idea of looking ahead also works really well when snowboarding through the trees… I’m not sure why…

Follow the skier tracks. On steeper moguls there are usually a few well-worn ‘S turn’ paths used by skiers over and over. Use them. On skis, the ideal is to always have your shoulders facing downhill; on a snowboard, you ride the same path like a surfer, your shoulders basically pointing the direction your board is traveling, taking short-radius carved turns (and skid turns to slow down). Compress down in the pit of the moguls in a carve and pop out over the bumps, changing directions while you’re unweighted. Get a rhythm of weighting and unweighting, an exaggerated version of what you do on groomed runs to link up turns… To do this you will have to…

Get off your edges. “Riding your edges” is the security blanket you’re going to have to give up if you want to improve to the next level of skill. What am I talking about? Remember being a beginner, side-slipping down the hill, not wanting to point the board down the hill? Then you progress to moving quickly from one edge to the other, doing skid turns. The next step is carved turns, and the key to carved turns is getting off your edges: having enough confidence to lay your board (basically) flat, letting it point downhill and making a smooth transition between turns. Why is it important to get off your edges? Because a snowboard can’t rotate if it’s on an edge. And you aim your board between turns by rotating it. And in moguls, you need to be able to aim your board quickly–very quickly. When you’re nervous the tendency is to keep your board on an edge and guess what? You can’t turn.

The position of total control is when you’re balanced over the board and the board is flat on the ground. I’m not saying that this is the easiest position to be in. If you’re moving fast, it’s not the safest. But if you’re in moguls or crud or uneven terrain, you basically want to be “on top” of your board, and not committed to either a toe side or a heel side turn, ready to react to the terrain, your knees and body ‘relaxed’.

You can argue that well-executed carved turns appear to be someone who is “always on edge”, but the key is in the transition between edges. There is a whole continuum of edge angles you need to maintain to carve a perfectly round turn, and so I guess I’m really talking about controlling that edge angle based on the situation. The problem I have (and I see others having) is the reliance on staying on an edge, and so that’s why I emphasis this point of getting your board flat between turns. In moguls, getting this concept (whether or not you can verbalize it, or even realize what you’re doing), is key because it’s all about quickly reacting to different terrain.

In moguls, ‘keeping the board flat’ is hard to visualize; think of it as staying centered over the board as it rides out the terrain. There are moments when you just have to ride through some areas to get to a spot where you can make a turn. You may need to hit a bump straight on; absorb it with your knees and keep looking ahead. Crud or uneven terrain can usually just be mowed over or ridden out if you hit it straight on and you’re in a balanced position.

In moguls or steep terrain “staying on top” feels like you’re leaning forward. And so the paradox is that the only way to slow down is to lean forward. If you’re ending up on you’re butt in heelside turns, you’re leaning back. Staying balanced over my board on steep terrain gives me the sensation that I’m leaning forward, but I’m really just trying to keep my weight evenly distributed between my front and rear feet. It feels like I’m leaning forward (and relative to flat ground, I am). Commit your entire body forward into the turns or you’ll end up off-center.


Have you had the misfortune of suffering a snowboarding related injury? Are you going snowboarding for the first time? Want the confidence to try all those cool new tricks you’ve seen the pros do in the magazines? Preventing a fall or possible injury means wearing the necessary snowboard protection. Also, take the needed steps to improve your skills & performance. Take lessons, get plenty of sleep, and don’t snowboard when you’re tired.


Each year, there are in excess of 150,000 injuries and dozens of deaths related to skiing and snowboarding combined. Here are some of the most common reasons for snowboarding injuries:

  • Lack of necessary skills
  • Muscle fatigue, a.k.a., “leg burn”
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Alcohol intoxication or a hangover
  • Poor visibility or blizzard conditions
  • Dull edges on hard snow conditions
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Snowboarding too fast, relative to your ability
  • Encountering moguls or small bumps
  • Hard, icy, and other poor snow conditions
  • Not wearing proper snowboard protection


Whether your snowboarding for the first time, attempting a new trick or trying to step up your riding to the next level, injury prevention must be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there is always a painful price to pay every time you catch your back side edge, miss a landing and smash your tailbone, buttocks, hips and more.