Beginner Snowboarder Vs. Advanced Snowboarder – Passenger Or Driver?

Today’s reader question:

What would you say is the biggest difference between a beginner snowboarder’s turning and an advanced rider? And how can I get to that advanced level with my turns?

I’d say the biggest difference is the lack of power and push when a beginner snowboarder turns.

A beginner snowboarder turns their snowboard in the direction they want to go, then waits for their snowboard to grip the snow and turn. There’s a gap between the time they turn and the time their snowboard actually grips in and turns where they want to go.

An advanced snowboarder turns their snowboard in the direction they want to go, then forces their snowboard to make that turn right away. They don’t wait for their board to react, rather they’re pushing their snowboard into each turn.

How to take your turns from beginner to advanced

It comes down to following through and using your whole body (especially your knees) to force that snowboard to do what you tell it to do.

So instead of just turning and waiting for the snowboard’s edge to grip while you slide, you want to turn your snowboard, then power through into that turn by using your knees, hips and body.

Be proactive with your turns instead of just turning and waiting for something to happen. As soon as you turn, start to push those knees towards the direction of the turn to help your snowboard grip in and turn earlier, then follow through with your whole body.

It takes time and you WILL have to focus on being active and using your knees and body to help power your turning, but once you make that switch and make it a habit, your turns become sharper, faster and more dynamic.

Don’t be the passenger on a snowboard ride. Be the driver.

- Jed

One Exercise To Improve Your Snowboard Turns – ‘Life Preserver’

One of the things a lot of beginner snowboarders struggle with is initiating snowboard turns properly and remembering to keep their hands and body lined up when they turn.

This causes you to fight against your own turn and causes poor control when you snowboard, so let’s fix this with a simple exercise.

Step 1) Pretend you have a life preserver around your waist

Yes, I mean those things they throw off ships to help drowning people:

Lifesaver

While pretending you have the life preserver around your waist, keep your hands on your sides and pretend that they’re holding on to each side of the tube. Imagine that your hands are glued to the life preserver in this position.

You should now be in a nice balanced riding position, lined up with your snowboard with your hands above the nose and tail section of your snowboard.

Step 2) Your life preserver turns with you

Okay, now every time you execute a turn on your snowboard, aim to turn the entire life preserver into the direction of that turn.

Since your hands are glued to the imaginary life preserver, your entire upper body and hands should be moving as one unit into the turn.

What we’re doing here is forcing you to keep that balanced riding position with your hands at your sides while also keeping your upper body aligned with your snowboard and helping you turn.

That’s it. Simple, but effective if you’re having troubles with your riding position and alignment.

- Jed

ps: I think I may just do that GoPro 3 review without a Contour+2… I haven’t been able to get my hands on the +2 to do the comparison, so it’ll just have to be focused on the GoPro 3 Black itself.

Why Snowboard Carving Is Important & When You Need To Carve

Snowboard Racing

(note – this blog is all about carving and assumes you know what a carve is, if you haven’t progressed to learning to carve yet, I recommend starting on our beginner snowboarding tips first to avoid confusing yourself)

Today’s reader question:

When should I carve? Is carving something I should always aim to do every time I turn or does it have a time and place?

Very good question. The thing about carving is we talk about carving as a skill everyone has to learn eventually, but we often skim over the whole why and when part of carving tutorials.

So here’s why and when you should be carving.

Why carving is useful in snowboarding

Here’s why carves are generally better then skidded turns (the turns you first learn when you start snowboarding):

  • Very precise control
  • Less speed loss when turning (no skid)
  • Creates pressure which can be used to power into a turn or execute a spin

That’s basically it, but you probably know this much since this is what you’re usually told when you first learn to carve. So let’s get into the ‘when’ of carving.

When should you be carving

Honestly, here’s the twist. I don’t carve most of the time. I throw the odd carve into my turns, but it’s a mixed bag of different turning techniques depending on the situation.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just me either since I know a lot of good snowboarders who only carve a little here and there (and when they do freestyle).

There’s really 2 areas on the slope where I’ll do a lot of carving:

  1. Freestyle / park riding
  2. Groomed runs

I do enjoy some high speed carves on a groomed run, but even then my carves tend to be mixed with just bombing straight down the hill (straight lining) and speed checks when I get too much speed.

Don’t forget if there’s powder you can’t exactly carve anyway, and I live in a snow heavy resort (Whistler).

It’s very rare when I’ll do just back to back carved turns non-stop down a run. If I’m not taking some instructor’s test or teaching someone to carve I don’t really have a reason to be doing carve after carve after carve.

It’s not like I’m a boarder-cross racer who HAS to get maximum speed from every turn, so I enjoy mixing it up and doing what I feel like doing depending on the terrain.

Now don’t take this to mean you can’t ride down a run and do back-to-back carves non-stop if you want, because by all means, go ahead and carve your heart out. Absolutely nothing wrong with carving, heck it’s good practice to carve anyway.

I’m just saying it’s not required and once you’ve mastered carving you don’t need to carve non-stop if you don’t want to. Carving is a skill that’s useful and a great method for turning, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all day every day.

You can mix it up and use carves when you need the control, power or speed.

Alright, so besides your every day ski run carving, you’ve also got your freestyle carving. Freestyle is basically the reason I practice carving and the reason I use carving every day that I go snowboarding.

Why carving is so important to freestyle snowboarding

Carving is how you create spin in snowboarding. If you want to learn any trick involving spins of 360 or more, you HAVE to learn to carve properly and that’s the bottom line.

Not learning to carve basically cripples your snowboard freestyle progression because you’ll suck at spinning and it’s the reason learning to carve is the building block that EVERY freestyle coach teaches you if you want to start learning to spin.

So there you go. That’s why I practice my carving and where I use my carving. Hope that answers your question.

- Jed

How To Correct Your Knee Bend For More Powerful Snowboard Control

Here’s a snowboard stance mistake that’s pretty common, easily noticable and easily fixable on the spot.

The mistake with your knees:

When we get tired, thrown off balance, navigate bumpy terrain or deep powder, one of the most common mistakes that occurs is letting your knees drift inwards when you turn.

This simply means your knee is bending, but as it bends it starts inclining inwards, towards the middle of your snowboard.

Using my amazing drawing skills, I’ve re-created what it looks like:

Knee bending inwards

Now we usually don’t mean to let this happen and it doesn’t always happen with both legs, but it’s something that just tends to happen from time to time, particularly in our leading leg.

Why this is bad:

When your knees aren’t staying in line with your hips, you start to lose power and control over your snowboard. Simply put, you end up in a situation where you’re trying to get power to your snowboard, but your knees are cutting off the power before it gets there.

In addition, it’s also bad for your knee joints to bend that way and can cause strain in your knee. In particular, if you have dodgy knees (or previously injured knees like myself), you’ll notice the strain on your knee when you ride without proper knee alignment.

The fix to this problem:

It’s a simple fix. Just pay attention to how your knees are bending when you snowboard and if you catch your knees inclining inwards as you bend them, start pushing them back outwards.

In particular, pay attention to your knees when you’re tired and riding bumpy snow, because I’ve found that these snow conditions are the most common times when your knee starts to drift inwards.

Knee inward bend fixed

You may also find that you have to keep catching yourself and reminding yourself to do it, but you should notice an immediate effect on your power and control when you start keeping your knees from inclining inward.

So basically, riding with proper hip and knee alignment gets all that power from your body and your upper legs to your snowboard. You’ll also notice that it engages your quad muscles a lot better when you’re bending your knees properly.

Hope this helps you out, happy shredding.

- Jed

ps – Dumping snow again in Whistler… huge powder day tomorrow? Yes please!

The Snowboard Turning Mistake Nearly Everyone Makes: Follow-Through

In this blog: Why follow-through is one of the most common mistakes snowboarders make and how to fix it.

Snowboard Carving

The most common mistake I see among other snowboarders riding around the slopes is a lack of follow-through when they turn.

Basically every 2nd or 3rd person that I watch on the slopes is making this mistake and it’s the reason they can’t get their snowboard to go where they want it to go.

Why is follow-through important & how does it work?

In snowboarding, follow-through is what allows you to turn exactly where you want to turn and ride exactly where you want to ride.

No follow-through:

If you don’t follow-through with each turn, you’re telling your board: “Turn right, I don’t care where, just right somewhere.”

This results in you turning right, but you can’t aim exactly where you’re going.

There’s no precision or power here. You’re skidding downhill while kinda turning right and there’s no aiming for that gap between the bumps in the snow or slicing through that space between 2 other riders on a tight ski slope.

You ever watch someone turn their snowboard, but then skid downhill 5 meters while hitting a few bumps in the snow and get thrown all over the place while they turn? That’s what happens with no follow-through in your turns.

Follow-through:

If you follow-through with your turn, you’re telling your board exactly where it should turn: “Turn right 5 meters ahead and cut between the ski school instructor and the tree.”

Follow-through allows you to turn and manpower your snowboard through the turn instead of letting the terrain, bumps and slope tell you where to go.

You ever watch a snowboarder cut his way through the snow, picking his turn and smoothly carving through the snow like a boss? That’s what happens when you follow-through.

Okay so, how do you follow through? Well, it’s pretty simple actually.

The mistake people make with turning and follow-through:

Most snowboarders will learn the technique of how to turn their snowboard because it’s basically the first thing you learn after learning how to side-slip down a slope.

The problem is they’ll stop turning too early.

They’ll use the technique they were taught to start turning their snowboard, but as soon as their snowboard changes direction, they think, “Oh, the job’s done, I can stop turning now!”

No! Changing directions is only the start of a turn. It’s 10-20% of the journey.

How to fix your turning follow-through:

After changing direction, you need to follow-through and continue to execute that turning technique even harder and drive that snowboard through the snow with your whole body.

This is how you get that sharp, tight snowboard power that you see in veteran snowboarders when they execute their turns.

How long you continue driving that turn depends on how sharply you want to turn, but don’t ease up on that turning technique until your snowboard is pointed exactly where you want to be going and you’re carving through the snow.

You want to drive that snowboard with your whole body through each turn and show the snow who’s boss. What good is learning turning technique if you stop using it halfway through the turn?

When you drive a car, do you tap on the accelerator once and expect to get to your destination? Of course not. You have to put your foot down and keep it down to put that engine to use.

Do the same with your snowboard turns. Keep your foot on that gas paddle until you reach your destination.

- Jed

ps – if you need tips on improving how you execute your actual turning technique, there’s plenty under Beginner Snowboard Tips & Intermediate Snowboard Tips