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Experienced Skier- First Time Boarder advice on the switchover

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've been a skier since I was 4 years old, taught at a little PA hill in high school/ college and I'm confident skiing just about any inbound terrain in the states (okay, Colbert's and the Palisades scare me a bit).

I'm heading to Camelback in PA next weekend to try snowboarding for the first time, and I've been looking for advice from those who've switched over.

Any good dryland exercises to practice? -- I've been playing the heel-toe game for a while, both in bare feet and strapped into my board on the carpet (got a sweet deal on a new board/boots). Any other good ones out there?

Are there any ski skills/habits I should be working particularly hard to break? Any skills that will be particularly beneficial?

Any other advice (other than getting an AASI instructor for a lesson -- that's a no-brainer)?


Thanks -- for so many years I've been a two planker. It'll be strange to go into the knuckle dragging camp. I feel like I've got to disguise myself, but I don't think I can pull off a convincing, " 'Sup Brah."
post #2 of 21
I'm not much of a snowboarder, and I don't do it that often, but I do have direct experience of being a long-time skier learning to snowboard. Here is what I particularly noticed:

1) pads are good - there are other threads talking about them

2) getting in the backseat on skis is a bad idea. On a snowboard it is a very, very, very bad idea. (They don't call it that, of course). If you put all your weight on the back foot, the board will not turn.

3) cheating the stance at first helps. I turned the bindings so I was facing more down the hill for a season (more like skiing). Later I turned them back to a more snowboard-like setting. You can't leave them turned forever for two reasons - one, it ain't right, brah -- and two, it makes it hard to get a good solid heelside edge engagement.

4) Step in bindings. I really hated sitting on the snow to do up the binding. I don't even know if they still make them, but if they do, get them.

Did you skateboard as a kid? (Or an adult, for that matter.) I did not. My theory is that if you have skateboard experience, snowboarding will be easy to pick up. If not, not.

Beyond that, the "real" snowboarders can give you better advice than I can.
post #3 of 21
Good luck. It's a great sport. Try this site and this advice for basic heelside and towside turns:

http://www.extremecarving.com/tech/tech.html

As always on this site, there will be pro and con arguments about this "rotational" technique, but it is widely used in Europe, esp. for beginners. Don't just watch the videos, carefully read their instructions. Just remember, as the board starts to turn either heelside or toeside, go gently on to your heels or toes to avoid catching your front edge.

Btw, do not, under any circs, stand up on your board and try to go straight like on skis. The board will turn on its own and you will catch a front edge, which is not a pleasant thing.

Anyway, the extremecarving guys have done something quite nice in their site. They KISS, which is esp. good for beginners.

Good luck!
post #4 of 21
Couple of quick observations. Keep your weight centered or a bit forward at first. A slightly forward pointing stance might be good for the first couple of days. Use more edge angle than you think you need. So long as you're not flyswattering(Catching heel/toe edge to splat) most snowboarding wipeouts don't hurt at all compared to skiing crashes. Snowboarding is really awkward at speeds slower than about 10 mph. Don't be afraid to pick up a little speed before you try to turn.
Have fun!
post #5 of 21
I started off skiing, but switched to snowboarding 12 years ago. Something occurred to me last season about my own snowboarding technique that I wished I had thought of earlier. It might sound ridiculous, but it helped me, so I'll pass it along. What I realized was that I need to remember my momentum is supposed to be going sideways -- not forward. This is obvious on skis -- you're facing the direction your momentum is going. But on a snowboard, and especially if you're coming to it from skiing, it might be counter-intuitive.

The point is, the board is supposed to be travelling along its long axis, like skis do, but unless the rider is committed to having his momentum moving along that axis, to the side of his body rather than forward, turns will be harder in one direction than the other and he will find himself skidding down the mountain rather than turning and carving.

My stance angles are +18/-12, so I'm very definitely facing to the side of the board; if your board is set up with both feet angled forward (eg +21/+6 which I started on), this might be less of an issue.

I don't know if this will be helpful for a beginner or not, but my guess is adjusting to the different direction of movement could be the biggest mental shift you have to make going from skiing to snowboarding.
post #6 of 21
Balance issues are the first and foremost thing to deal with, I switched from skiing to snowboarding when I was young ~7 then last year I switched back to skiing and now do both although I am much better on the 'board. Once you get the balance down, don't be afraid of speed, the slower you go the harder it is to make good edge progression without catching the downhill edge. Also use your toes/heels to 'twist' the board, ie keeping your rear foot flat and lifting toe/heel edge to initiate heel/toe (respectively) turns (you can also start practicing this with the rear foot out for some help). Hope that helps.
Rick
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input guys --

I'm not a skate boarder, and the hardest thing I found when trying to learn how to kiteboard/wakeboard (emphasis on the trying) was that body heading the wrong way thing.... I guess that'll come from practice.

Appreciate the extreme carving link... do most beginner boarders use a lot of rotation as opposed to edging?
post #8 of 21
Not sure about what you will be boarding on groomed hard pack or groomer conditioned ice. I tried boarding for one year. I became fairly competent for most blues. But I gave it up because I did not like tasting blood after every fall. Not that my mouth was bleeding just that the falls are that intense. I will stick with my skis they are much easier to get from one place to another over flat ground and when I get off the lift I am sking not sitting in the middle of the unload area putting my board on.
post #9 of 21
Another thing -- the best thing about learning to snowboard, as I recall, is not losing your board when you fall. No more hiking back up the slope to collect your poles, skis, hat, etc... just roll yourself around and get back up.

Once you get good enough to pick up some speed, a fall doesn't even have to mean a stop, if you can twist around and get your board under you as you're rolling down the hill.
post #10 of 21
Been skiing for 35 years. I took one SB lesson about ten years ago. It was fun but the next year I started ski instructing and never had a chance to try SB again although I was I had the time. A couple things I noticed--

I skateboarded a bit as a kid and it's not as close to stakeboarding as I thought it would be. More upright stance. You have to lift an edge instead of push and edge.

Don't ski bumps for three days the day before you take a SB lesson. I was really beat and keeping my front leg flexed was work.
post #11 of 21
Aleph Null,

caveat - This applies to regular snowboarding - not alpine boarding (i.e. hard boots and extreme forward stances)

The most common habit of skiers starting to ride is to turn their shoulders forward to face their direction of travel. You want to ride with your chin tucked into your shoulder and your shoulders more aligned with the board than perpendicular to the board.

Here are some dry land exercises you can practice ahead of time. Many of these are boot drills that I commonly ask my first time students to do. We start out doing these in just our boots, then do them again with only the front foot in, then again with both feet in.

Put Your Worst Foot Forward
Stance selection, forward foot - Normally you want your power foot in back. If you are right handed, normally your right foot goes in back, but some people are right handed and left footed or vice versa. If you've played soccer or football, you'll know which foot you prefer to kick with. Skateboarders or surfers with experience riding with their power foot forward can rider this way on a board. Although it is slightly easier to ride "forward", snowboarders often learn to ride "backwards" nearly as proficiently. Left foot forward is called a normal stance. Right foot forwards is called goofy.

Spread 'Em
Stance selection, width - Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, hands raised up even with your elbows. Jump up. Check where your feet land relative to how wide a stance your snowboard is set up. Anywhere close is ok, but my personal recommendation is to have the insides of my heels underneath the middle of the tops of my thighs. Slightly narrower or slightly wider is a matter of personal preference and body build.

The Toes Pose
Stance selection, angles - Some rentals with come with a "traditional" default stance where the front foot is slightly angled forward from 6-12 degrees and the back foot is angled either perpendicularly to the board (0 degrees) or less slightly forward than the front foot (3-6 degrees). The Burton Learn to Ride program recommends a duck foot stance of +6 degrees for the front foot and -6 (i.e. pointing towards the tail) for the back foot). For beginners, the stance does not matter a whole lot, but pigeon toed (front foot angled back, back foot angled forward) is definitely an uncomfortable and inefficient way to ride. For a dry land exercise, try positioning your feet in different angles and bending your knees up and down to see if you can find a preferred position. Don't worry if you don't.

The "Ahhhh" drill
Basic Posture - Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, hands raised up even with your elbows and knees slightly bent, chin tucked into your shoulder. This is the basic riding stance. Look down at your knees and see if they are directly over the toes. Wiggle your front knee back and forth to see how far in front or behind the toes you can get them. Hold the knee as far in front of the toes as you can. Check your back leg to make sure that it is straight (no knee bend). This is the "ahhhh" position. It is useful for getting off the lift. Reverse the position (back leg bent, front leg straight - knee behind the toes). This is the "ayiiii" (higher pitched "ah") position. It is what happens to beginner riders who go too fast. When you are going straight down the hill, you'll find that you can not fix the "ayiii" position. But when the board is positioned across the hill, you can change from "ayiii" to "ahhhh" by sliding your hips forward. Practice this move. When you ride you can have your hands down by your sides if you have great balance or hold them out for added balance. You can have your hands held so they cover the nose and tail and the board or you can hold them so that they are just outside each foot's little toe. This is a style choice.

Doing the Twist
Turning with the feet - Stand on a slick surface with your socks on. Hold your hands behind your back. Turn your feet without turning your shoulders. Have an assistant your shoulders still if you can. Try turning by just moving your toes or just turning your heels. Next try turning your feet using both your toes and and your heels (i.e. the pivot point is under the middle of the foot). You get the most power by turning with your whole foot versus just your toes or heels. When the board is flat, turning with your feet will quickly spin the board in a new direction, but will not change your direction of travel. This can be helpful to get a turn started but dangerous if you don't quickly get onto your uphill edge.

Clap your Toes and Heels
Turning by edging - The main way to get a snowboard to turn is to let it turn all by itself. The curved shape of the edge of the board causes the board to travel in an arc when the board has the edge engaged in the snow. To get an edge engaged we need to move our center of mass from the middle of the board to over the edge while we lift the other edge off the snow. The trick is to do this with a body position that provides balance and allows for a way to correct if move too far over the edge. On a toe side turn, the key is to arch your back. The easiest way to feel this is to stand flat footed with your arms raised high above your head. With your arms still held high above your head move your hands behind your head, then turn your palms to face the sky. At this point you should feel your back arched and your chest sticking out. Now bend you knees. You should feel your hips move forward and your heels come off the ground quickly. If you goo too far, you can move your hips back to "stand up" straight and flatten your feet. Now try to get the same movement with your hands down by just sticking your belly out. Heel side turns are done by making a move similar to sitting in a chair. The butt moves out while the shoulders come forward and the toes come up in the air. Practice these moves by alternately "clapping" your toes or heels on the floor.

The Moon Walk
One way to help get turns started is to make the edge change move (toe to heel or heel to toe) with your front foot first. You can practice this by almost "moon walking". Stand with one foot on your toes and the other foot on your heels, then switch. Once you get the hang of this, try starting with both feet on your toes, then moving just the front foot to the heel first, then follow quickly with the back foot. Switch and start with your feet on heels to start, moving your front foot to toe edge first. When you feel comfortable with this drill, you will be able to start your snowboard turns with emphasis on the front foot first. You don't have to ride this way, but some people find this technique helpful. It works especially well on the Burton LTR equipment.

Whack a Mole
Prepare to jump, but stop, then return to a standing position. You need to use this kind of motion when you are riding. Make the move smooth and slow. When we are traveling across the hill we use a rising motion to help us start a turn until the board is facing directly down the hill. When we finish a turn, we use a sinking motion until the board is facing across the hill again (or even going back up the hill!). At that point we are in the low position again and ready to start the next turn. Whack the mole before you start your turn.

Oompa Lumpa Land
Safe falling - Get on your knees on a nice soft carpet with four feet of open space in front of you. Fall forward and catch yourself with your hands. This is how the most common injury (sprained wrists) in snowboarding happens. It is a natural and automatic way to fall. Don't do this while riding! Try it again, but this time, make a fist with each hand, cross your arms and fall on your forearms. When you land make a loud "oomph" sound on impact. This is important. If you catch a downhill edge while riding, you will not have enough time to think about what to do. If you think "oomph", you can fall on your forearms instead of putting your hands out. If you practice oomph enough, you can make this your automatic way to fall. It won't be pain free, but it will prevent a wrist injury.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks Rusty -- that's a great set of drills/tips. I'm really looking forward to smashing my face into the ground this weekend

Actually, I just got my new racing skis mounted and will pick them up from the ski shop on my way up to the hills. It'll be tough to stick with it with those speed demons calling my name.

I'm fortunate to have my own board and boots (not alpine). They've got a slight duck-footed stance already with the bindings. You guys think I should go ahead and give myself 5 - 10 degrees of forward angle to make myself more comfortable or leave them as is?

The concept of putting some rotation in with the edging is still throwing we off a bit. With my feet bolted together, I feel a bit lost on the rotation component. Edging toe side dry land feels fine, but heel side feels a bit sketchy. Guess I'll pick it up when I'm on the snow (oh, what the hell, this is PA... might as well admit it'll be ice )

--A_0
post #13 of 21

before you go!

You said: "Any other advice (other than getting an AASI instructor for a lesson -- that's a no-brainer)?"

Most PA areas have learn to ride packages which are very reasonbly priced. They are cheaper than buying a lift ticket and lesson seperately plus you get the rental included. If you go to a Burton Learn to ride mountain use their board at least for the lesson. Your board might be a more advanced board and will be harder to learn on. Use your boots.

Every day (on the slopes) I see people pay good money for a lift ticket, give up thier day and travel expense just to beat the hell out of themselves on the beginner hill all day. It's stupid. Really stupid. But if they finally succeed on thier own they usually go on to be really good at boarding the wrong way. 95% of all boarders and 99.9% of self taught boarders never learn to stand correctly and ride correctly unless some caring professional crosses their path with a few minutes to share.

Take the lesson. Then practice then if you can afford it take a second lesson preferrably private. The skills you will learn will be for a life time.
I feel that you are probably worth it. How do you feel?

That little PA ski area you spoke of, do they have the Burton LTR program? GO back to your roots. If is the old DOE area, since renamed, they do have the Burton LTR. Look me up after you take the lesson. If available, I will make it worth your time. I teach Saturdays for sure and most Sundays.

Bruce


"
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emdur View Post
Every day (on the slopes) I see people pay good money for a lift ticket......


I teach Saturdays for sure and most Sundays.
You know, there are five other days that the slopes are open as well.

Do you teach at BC? Have we met?
post #15 of 21

fiveother days?

Five other days? Do you know the difference between a pizza and a snowboard instructor? A Pizza CAN feed a family of four, I am six.

And yes to your other question. I am the old guy with all gray hair.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emdur View Post

Most PA areas have learn to ride packages which are very reasonbly priced. They are cheaper than buying a lift ticket and lesson seperately plus you get the rental included. If you go to a Burton Learn to ride mountain use their board at least for the lesson. Your board might be a more advanced board and will be harder to learn on. Use your boots.
I'm heading out to Camelback which apparently does have the Burton L2R program. What's special about L2R? I can't find any details on the Camelback site other than

I'll probably blow the extra money to get the full lift... the board I've got is a twice-used board picked up from a Rental shop from the "little ski area" I used to teach at, Blue Marsh, when they shut down. I've got a new pair of racing skis I'd like to take out on their NASTAR course and see how they rip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emdur View Post
Take the lesson. Then practice then if you can afford it take a second lesson preferrably private. The skills you will learn will be for a life time.
I feel that you are probably worth it. How do you feel?
As I said, I'm taking the lesson before I ever strap that thing to my feet... I'm a firm devote to the need for lessons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emdur View Post
That little PA ski area you spoke of, do they have the Burton LTR program? GO back to your roots. If is the old DOE area, since renamed, they do have the Burton LTR. Look me up after you take the lesson. If available, I will make it worth your time. I teach Saturdays for sure and most Sundays.
I haven't been back to Doe since they renamed it Bear Creek... no I used to teach at a little place called "Blue Marsh" near Reading... funny thing is we actually had an instructor named Bruce who moved on to teach at BC after Blue Marsh jerked the instructors around one too many times (I know, don't speak ill of a dead ski area...)

That's not you, is it?
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleph Null View Post
I'm fortunate to have my own board and boots (not alpine). They've got a slight duck-footed stance already with the bindings. You guys think I should go ahead and give myself 5 - 10 degrees of forward angle to make myself more comfortable or leave them as is?

The concept of putting some rotation in with the edging is still throwing we off a bit.
Stance angles are mostly personal preference. Try different angles and see what you like. That's why we carry a "tool". The first time I tried duck I did not like it. But I tried it again later and grew to like it the best.

Rotation combined with edging is subtle, but the added torque on the nose can do wonders. It's just another skill to add to your bag of tricks.
post #18 of 21
I taught full time, both skiing and snowboarding at Blue Marsh for the '96/'97 season. I really loved that place. It was tiny, but it was a hoot.

The LTR system is a good one, if the instructors actually use it. Use of the system implies a good training program at the mountain for the instructors. I have seen several mountains with LTR programs, but their instructors, through lack of a staff training program, really don't teach it.

My suggestion to you is to find the aforementioned AASI instructor, but better yet, find one who both skis and rides.
post #19 of 21

to Null

There is another Bruce at BC who is the ski technical director and skier only. He is about my age (57).

Special about Burton LTR? True that many instructors may NOT be schooled in teaching the system but the board itself has advantages in learning. The first day board has an edge cut 3 degrees less than normal to make it less likely to catch and flip you. The board is more flexible latterally to make toe steering (carving) almost automatic. Our old boards were like Humvees and stiff as a Burton Dominic or Custom. As you move up you move to firmer boards. The second Board is the Burton Cruzer.

Every LTR instructor should hang their personal board up and ride the LTR boards a few times or teach on them.

BC is no taller than when you were last there but they have rebuilt the infrasture to make you think you are in the Alps. The second new hotel is under construction along with a spa.

If you are hitting CamelBack or Blue on a holiday like last week the lines could be a problem. Even BC had to shut its gates. One of my kids went to Montage last Friday and said he had the place to himself along with plenty of fresh powder hidden under the lifts and along the sides of the diamonds. My doughter teaches both skiing and riding at another local place near her college and chose not to ride do to the crowds.
post #20 of 21
You know this thread is bad. I've been skiing for 35 years, teaching for 10, took one SB lesson the year before I became a ski instructor. Now all of a sudden I have a very very strong impulse to learn to SB. I told myself years ago I'd pick up a second discipline after I got my L2 Alpine, either tele or SB, and got my L2 last year. I'm actively working at a mountain so I can take out rentals and get lessons for free. It's just a matter of getting to the mountain another day a week which is really tough with job and family obligations. Also, I like to keep my skiing up to snuff and think a second discipline might spread myself thin. Still, I've been reading this thread and be doing a lot of visualization in my head. It's like I can feel myself SBing in my brain even though I haven't done it but once ten years ago.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
[snip]Also, I like to keep my skiing up to snuff and think a second discipline might spread myself thin. Still, I've been reading this thread and be doing a lot of visualization in my head. It's like I can feel myself SBing in my brain even though I haven't done it but once ten years ago.
Seriously, after the initial ramp-up period skill-wise I think youll find the riding complementary to the skiing rather than spreading yourself thin. Give it a go.

You KNOW you want to...
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