How To Stop Crashing When Snowboarding On ‘Cat Tracks’

Today’s reader question:

I have problems with catching my edge on cat tracks and faceplanting. Any tips?

Ah yes, cat tracks. The bane of every learning snowboarder. Yeah, there’s a couple of simple things you can do.

1) Flat base.. but not quite flat?

What you’re probably doing right now is riding on a totally flat base while zooming down the cat track. The trick here is that you want to avoid riding on a totally flat base.

Instead, ride on an almost flat base. You want to be riding in a mostly straight direction while also riding using the edges of your snowboard.

Do this by applying a tiny bit of pressure to one of your edges so that you’re still riding in a straight direction, but your weight is slightly centered over one of the edges of your snowboard.

You’ll still look like you’re riding on a flat base and still be riding in a straight line, but in reality you’ll have your weight focused slightly off center, on the edge of your snowboard.

I like to use my toe edge for this because it’s easier to control tiny edge pressure changes than using your heel edge.

Snowboard Cat Track Diagram

Why do this?

What this does is make it so that if you hit a random, weird patch of snow that grabs at your snowboard, your edge will absorb the jerky movements and you won’t suddenly get thrown in a random direction and faceplant.

This is similar to how skateboarders riding on a sidewalk will have more weight on their back leg so that if their front wheels hit a rock/crack they won’t suddenly get thrown off their snowboard.

2) Speedchecks are your friend

You don’t have to go as fast as everyone else, at least not until you’re comfortable with the speed and tiny edge control. Feel free to slow down when you need to and aim to keep to the right or left of the cat track to let other people ride past.

Don’t worry, speed will come with time as you get more comfortable with riding cat tracks.

– Jed

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