The Trick To Snowboarding Steep Powder Terrain – How To Position Your Body Correctly

Today’s reader question:

When I try to snowboard on steep powder terrain I either end up side slipping the whole time or digging my edge and faceplanting when I try to turn. What am I doing wrong?

The trick is that you have to do the reverse of what your mind is telling you to do right now. You need to point that snowboard downhill and go with the steepness of the hill, instead of trying to ride really slowly and side slip constantly.

How to position your body correctly on steep ski slopes

1) Aim to have your shoulders parallel with the slope.

This means you want your shoulders to bend downhill and be level with the incline of the slope. Don’t fight the slope, go with the slope.

This is probably the biggest thing you can do to help you keep your body properly positioned on steep slopes.

So, when you draw a straight line from your shoulder, it should be equal to the incline of the slope:

Shoulders parallel to slope

2) Keep your speed up.

You actually want speed when you’re trying to turn on steep powder. It helps your snowboard to cut through the snow, instead of getting bogged down and stuck.

Speed is your friend, so fight the urge to side slip constantly, unless you absolutely need to stop/avoid an obstacle.

3) Gentle turns.

Don’t try to do huge sharp turns on powder. That’s one of the biggest mistakes when riding powder in general and it still applies when riding steep terrain in powder conditions.

When you turn, don’t suddenly turn your whole snowboard at once. Sudden, jerky turns will end up with your edge catching in powder and you flying upside down over the nose of your snowboard.

Just like you don’t suddenly stomp on your brakes in a car, you don’t want to turn suddenly. Aim to gradually rock onto the edge of your snowboard, just like you gradually press down the brake pedal of a car.

If you can, do wide, long turns instead of sudden, short turns. Not only is it better for keeping your speed up and avoiding edge catching, but it feels way better. Wide, long powder turns are probably the closest thing to surfing on snow!

Hope that answers your question.

– Jed

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  1. Yes, this is exactly what I need to learn. I find myself sideslipping the steep stuff because in my advancing years I don’t have the guts to just go straight down!

    So is this advice also the same if you’re on a steep slope with not so much powder? I found myself at the top of the Gold chair at Nakiska and the wind that day had blown off all the pow, and I (sort of intermediate) didn’t know what else to do but side slip.

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