02Learning to Snowboard: a Do it/ Teach it yourself primer

This is the groundwork for teaching introductory snowboarding.  This format has been in use here at Sugarloaf/USA since around 1999?  It is much simpler than what i came up with circa 1991-92.  (The original can be found here: ((link to S:APM))).

This is the text as I wrote it for the Ski School employee handbook.

It differs a bit from what you might find elsewhere, and for good reason.(details on that here ((link)).

How you utilize the following information will be determined by the pitch of your slope, snow conditions, available equipment, and learning aptitude, among other things.

For instance, sideslipping isn’t necessary or feasible in fresh snow or spring glop; hockey players tend to learn faster than, say, golfers.


Learn to ride format, on snow sequence.

Introduce the vocabulary, orientation to the parts of the board and any new words you might be spewing forth.

Order of skill introduction:

1. Edging movements

2. Pressuring movements

3. Rotational movements


Mobility.  Front foot in, skate around on the flat, keep the head and hips over the front foot.  At this point, it may become apparent that some of your clients could benefit from “shimming” (Ask Erik for details).


Skill focus is on edging, the ability to hold the board at some angle to the snow in order to establish grip and stability.  Mention the use of muscles of the lower extremities.  Toes up, toes down.


Add glide across the hill.  Aim for successively larger push-off without losing balance, emphasize that the board is not pushed ahead and then caught up to, but rather the body and the board is advanced as a unit.


Depending on the snow conditions and the pitch of the hill, heel-side spinout may manifest itself at this time.


Introduce the concept of pressure distribution (aka weight shift) from front foot to rear foot.  If the board spins out, the front binding is mounted too far forward for the weight of the rider.  That, or the rider has no weight whatsoever on the rear foot.


Skid, by the way, is generally a pressure distribution issue.


Before sending the guest back to the rental shop for binding remount, encourage them to try to stand a little less forward, forward in this case being the tip of the board (not to be confused with tipping the board).


If glide is possible with a push-off, let gravity do the work.  Side-step up the hill, point the board across and slightly downhill, step on (from above, so that the board is already on edge) decrease edge grip slightly, and glide on edge to a stop.  The board should move primarily forward, not sideways.


Repeat on other edge.  Do not allow for too much speed or distance.  Keep the energy level low, to increase confidence and reduce the possibility of falling and injury to the lead leg.


Sideslip each edge, one foot in.  First combination of both edging and pressuring skill groups.  Try to use a pitch with single fall line (no sidehill).  Look for spinout on heelside (too much weight on the front foot, check binding placement),  and no grip on toeside (need for a shim, insufficient binding offset, or zero foot strength).


Repeat a few times each edge.


If the group is comfortable with the concept, suggest sideslip with both feet in.  Address the hazards associated with both feet attached,  I.e. you cannot step off to regain balance, and a fall may injure the wrists, etc, rather than the knee or ankle.


It is usually easier to get up toeside, and sideslip heelside, but not always.


Introduce means of turning over and getting up.


If the highbacks  (and stance width) are set correctly, the rider should be able to drift down the fall line in a comfortable posture, modulating edge angle primarily with the feet.   Excessive knee bend and flaming quads means too much forward lean in the highbacks.  Straight legs and bent at the waist means not enough forward lean.


Look for spinout (heelside) and edgelock (toeside). Blame the sidehill and/or the binding setup before you fault the rider.


Proceed to the lift, each rider on their preferred edge.  Hopefully, weight is evenly distributed on both feet.


Introduce lift loading, unloading.  Caution not to twist up if they fall unloading (knee and ankle).


Ride up, gather together, buckle in.  Stated goal is safe, slow descent on edge of choice.


Once the group has a grasp of the concept and can move downhill on either edge, introduce active pressure distribution.  Moving from one foot to the other gradually will affect the interaction of the board at the snow level such that some directional control can be affected.


Turn your head and look where you want to go.  If the rider is set up properly the simple movement of the head is enough of a weight shift to affect what the board will do.  It is important that they turn the head without turning the shoulders or the rest of the body.  This, by the way is the introduction to rotary movements.


Proceed in this manner to the lift, stopping periodically for a rest, anecdotes, and a sip of cognac.  Board the lift and look at the scenery.  Repeat on the other edge, or on the same edge if the rider is not confident of moving on.

The goal of successive runs is to use more real estate, and establish cause and effect in a tactile manner for the guest.  As the rider gains control over the board, and moves further and further across the hill and back, they are gradually approaching the point where a turn can happen.  (W turn).


The stated goal for day one of Learn to Ride is safe descent on either edge.  If a guest begins linking turns, they have exceeded the goal for the day.