When you snowboard down a ski slope with uneven snow or bumpy terrain it gets harder to turn properly as your body gets thrown off balanced. You’re constantly trying to re-adjust yourself so you can execute the next snowboard turn.
This is common problem and there’s a snowboard turning technique that helps with this problem.
It’s called down-unweighting.
What is down-unweighting?
So in order to turn a snowboard easily, there are 2 main methods to reduce your weight and pressure on the snowboard just before each turn. These two methods are:
Up-unweighting is just the fancy name for the basic turning technique you learn when you first start snowboarding. It’s that motion you make when you extend your legs and bounce upwards to remove the weight of your body on your snowboard, which makes it easier to turn.
If you’re not familiar with up-unweighting or you’re newer to snowboarding, I recommend you read this blog first:
You definitely want to get up-unweighting mastered before you start trying down-unweighting, so make sure you can up-unweight and execute basic snowboard turns before continuing with the rest of this blog.
So, what is down-unweighting and how do I do it?
A down-unweight turn is very similar to your normal up-unweighted turn, except you reverse the direction that you move to unweight.
When you up-unweight you sort of bounce upwards with both legs to release and remove the weight and pressure on your snowboard, which makes it easier to turn.
The difference is that with a down-unweighted turn you release that pressure by suddenly dropping downwards, rather than bouncing upwards.
So instead of bouncing upwards, you’re relaxing your legs for a split second and letting your body drop downwards, which will remove pressure and weight on your snowboard and make it easier to turn.
So basically an up-unweighted turn goes from bent legs to pushing upwards and extending your legs as you bounce up to remove pressure on your snowboard:
And a down-unweighted turn goes the opposite direction to remove pressure:
One thing to note: Your legs don’t have to be extended to execute a down-unweighted turn, you can still down-unweight from a bent leg position by dropping your body and bending even more, I’m just showing you how you’re unweighting in the opposite directions in the diagrams.
You can practice down-unweighted turns by simply adding in a few down-unweighted turns into your normal riding.
So when should I down-unweight instead of up-unweighting?
Down-unweighted turns basically just give you another method to turn when you’re faced with bumpy/uneven terrain. You won’t use it all the time, in fact you’ll still use normal up-unweighted turns most of the time.
Instead, down-unweighted turns become something you mix into your riding depending on the situation at the time.
So for example, if you’re trying to navigate a bumpy area in the snow and you find yourself needing to both compress your lower body to deal with a bump and you also need to change directions and turn, you can execute a down-unweighted turn which would be quicker and faster than using an up-unweighted turn in this situation.
This is just one scenario, but there are many more and you need to practice adding down-unweighted turns into your riding as you start riding less even, more difficult terrain.
Part of becoming an advanced snowboarder is learning when to mix down-unweighting and up-unweighting and learning which type of turn works better in which scenario and this is something that comes with experience and time on snow, so get practicing.