Today’s reader question:
I’ve been taught in the past to turn from the top of my body first, with my lower body following, but I took a snowboard lesson and the instructor taught me to lead with my feet. Which is right?
You can turn with both methods. This is confusing, I know, but let me explain.
How you get taught to turn during a lesson depends on where and when the snowboard instructor you are learning from took his training. Some instructors teach top to bottom turning and some instructors teach bottom to top turning.
Why the difference in teaching methods?
In N. America, there are 2 certifications for snowboard instructors. CASI is the Canadian certificate and AASI is the US certificate.
AASI teaches their instructors to teach turning with the lower body leading and CASI teaches instructors to teach with the upper body leading turns. To make this even more confusing, I’ve heard that recently some CASI courses have swapped to teaching turning via the lower body leading now.
This results in what you experienced on your lesson. Some instructors teach turning using your upper body to lead and some teach using lower body turning.
Which is right?
Neither is wrong. Both can work just fine and they’re slightly different ways to look at the same problem.
Why neither turning method really matters in the grand scheme of things:
You end up with similar results in the end, no matter which method you started turning with.
A top to bottom turner learns to start turns with his upper body and have the lower body follow through. As he gets better, the upper body might continue to initiate the turns, but the lower body starts to take over more responsibility for bringing the power and control.
A bottom to top turner simply learns to turn using his lower body for the main power and control right from the start, instead of introducing it later, which is why the AASI likes this method of teaching.
In addition, the more you advance your riding, the more you’ll start to mix things up. I was taught to turn from the top down, but that doesn’t mean I never turn from the bottom up.
There’s no hard rule that says you can only use one method, it’s all about using the best tool based on the terrain you’re riding.
What you should pick when learning to turn:
Pick whichever method feels more comfortable to you. If you only learnt to turn using top to bottom turning or only using bottom to top turning, that’s fine. Keep using it.
If you’ve been taught both, that’s fine too, just pick the one that feels more comfortable and keep going.
Hope that answers your question.