Snowboarding in a variety of terrain

An expert snowboard rider can ride on all kinds of snow, on all kinds of terrain. Though you may not yet be an expert, you can still make progress as a rider by learning how to adjust to changing conditions. This page from Grays on Trays discusses various types of changing conditions you will face on the mountain.

Flats

Flat areas present challenges to snowboarders. Unlike skiers, they don’t have poles to help propel them over flat areas. So what should you do?

There are several options for snowboarders who face flat areas. The most obvious is to stop, get out of the binding, and walk until the ground starts to slope down again.

Another is to get out of just the back binding, and skate until it’s possible to slide away once again.

Another option is to build up enough speed to ride through the flat area. You’ll may need to carry more speed than you’re comfortable doing, but consider it part of the learning curve. One thing you can do to check your speed and maintain your control is to ever-so-slightly alternate the balance of your weight over your board: Nearly flat for a while, then very slightly on your heel edge, or very slightly on your toe edge. Don’t overdo your edging, though. If you do, the sidecut arc of your board will start to take you off your downhill trajectory.

Cats

Cats, or catwalks, are narrow paths on a mountain that are usually there was a switchback. Half the battle to riding on catwalks is mental, as they often have an outslope that leads to an uncomfortably large drop into a valley. To avert this problem, stay closer to the upslope of the mountain, and away from the ledge. Another challenge, though, is that catwalks are flat, so you need to use your “riding on flats” skills. If you stop while on a cat, you may have to walk a long ways.

Roads

Roads are simply wider catwalks. Their extra width makes them easier to ride, though many of the principles of riding catwalks apply.

Bumps

Is it possible to ride a snowboard through a mogul field? Most certainly. The best way to learn how to do this may be to ride on them when the snow is a bit soft, on a warmer, sunny day.  Taking lessons is highly advised.

Powder

Did you know that powder (“pow”), fresh, fluffy, light snow, is the home of snowboarding? Early snowboards didn’t have much if anything in the way of sharp metal edges. They didn’t have to; they were meant to be ridden in lots of powder.

Depending on where you ride your snowboard, you may get few opportunities to enjoy a powder day. But if you can float your board on powder, how do you do it?

Groomers

Groomers, groomers, or corduroy, are the snow of choice for many skiers and snowboarders. But not all groomer are the same. If the groomed tracks are frozen, you’re dealing with ice, not snow. If the groomers are soft, you can “let ‘er rip,” knowing that you won’t run into small particles of snow or ice that will toss you about. But groomers are also good for making casual runs down the mountain. On the other hand, groomed pistes often get “scrubbed off,” meaning that the marks are scrubbed away. Some snowboarders, meanwhile, consider groomers boring, preferring powder, chopped up snow, or more undulating snow.

Steeps

As you advance in your snowboarding skills, you will be able to handle successively steeper terrain.

The ultimate in control on steep terrain is to make short, tight turns and go in something resembling a straight line down the mountain.

Few of us can do that, however, but you can work towards that goal. How? Take a steeper slope than you are used to. Use a combination of turns. Make some very wide turns, going from one side of the trial to another.

(Do this only when the slope is not crowded, please; otherwise, you may be a nuisance or even a hazard.)

In between these wide turns, make shorter turns. Over time, make your shorter turns even shorter, and tighter. Make them more frequently.

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