There're a lot of variables that factor in to how good of a snowboarder you are.
Whilst there's no magic wand you can wave to make you the most seasoned shred-dog in the lands, there are things to consider to maximise your potential on the mountain.
These are some tips we've put together that come from personal experience. They might not work for you, however we feel that they're all valid points to consider when trying to improve your overall technique on the mountain.
We've tried not to venture too deeply into the sport's psychology, but they are a few things to think about before heading out on your next adventure.
There’s an old saying that a bad workman blames his tools. Now, that’s true to a certain extent, but if you’re using a jackhammer to put together an Ikea wardrobe, you can probably blame the jackhammer (as well as the unintelligible runes that they call Ikea furniture instructions).
The best way to avoid having the wrong tool is to talk to the right tradesman. Go out and test as many boards as you can – there’s a whole range of demo events across Europe and the rest of the world.
Go in and speak to your local shop, and if they are shit, just go to the next one! Worst-case scenario is you’ll have spent a days talking about snowboarding, not really the end of the world is it?
Watch Riders in Real Life
Do you think when a surfer pitches up at Pipeline, they just paddle out and catch the first wave? Probably not…
In a similar vein, it’s all too common to see people roll up to a park or certain natural feature and just gun it and hope for the best. Whilst we commend them for their enthusiasm, it’s important to take time to actually look at the terrain in front of you.
In the park, this means looking at how much speed riders are taking into the features, whether they’re flailing as they hit the apex of their flight, and how compressed they are in the landing. As a rule, that lets you know how much speed you need to take in, how much pop the kicker has, and whether the landings are flat.
It’s even more important to do the same in powder. The more time you spend watching riders in real life tackling a descent, the more you'll gain for your own riding. It’ll completely change the way you look at terrain and ride it.
Spend Time All Over the Mountain
It’s a well-known fact that Xavier De Le Rue, started his big mountain adventures on the banks and berms of the boardercross course. When you think of Terje, Nico and Rüf, they owe their board control and knowledge of transition to an education in the halfpipe.
If you spend time out of your preferred playground, it’ll pay dividends…trust us.
Ride With People Better Than You
There’s few feelings worse than coming away from a trip with the feeling of ‘What did I actually do this week? Did I actually learn anything?’.
The single easiest way to progress and push yourself is to ride with people better than you. Nobody wants to be the last person down the hill, and nobody wants to be the person doing straight airs whilst everyone else is sending front 540’s to the depths of the landing.
Riding with people better than you is a surefire way to bring your skills up to point in no time.
Scare Yourself Once a Day
We (as we assume many people do) have a playlist on our Spotify that’s called ‘The Fear’. This playlist is reserved only for those moments where you think that your internal organs are attempting a great escape through your anus.
We reckon it’s important to have one of these moments at least once a day. A moment where you just have to go for it and see if you can escape the Grim Reaper's clutches. Snowboarding will always be a game of risk vs experience – you can do your best to make sure experience outweighs risk, but sometimes you just have to say fuck it, and drop in.
...Preferably Before Lunch
We’ve all been guilty of waiting until the end of the day to throw down our best stunts. Your internal dialogue always tells you to wait until you’re properly warmed up or wait until the sun is out or until Jupiter is in the third moon of Saturn, or another ridiculous reason.
You should however, be aiming to send your best tricks by lunchtime as it’s the confidence boost you need to then build on them. How are you gonna stomp that cab 540 if you’ve waited until last lift to send your cab 360?
Know and Listen to Your 'Juice'
Another important aspect to riding is to know how much ‘good’ riding you have in you.
For example, this author knows he has 4 hours of ‘juice’ in him. Therefore, he plans to be doing his best tricks 30 minutes to 45 minutes after starting to ride. He then knows that he’s got a few hours of being able to take slams comfortably, before it’s gonna start getting nasty. After that, he can cruise to his heart's delight.
It’s important to listen to your body when you ride – when you ride when your body’s not feeling it, that’s when you get hurt.
Whether it’s raining, shining, sleeting or greybird, you get outta that bed and get those laps in. Shy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse pitching up in resort to wreak havoc, there are only a handful of reasons not to ride.
Our personal rule of thumb is that if the lifts are open, it means you can ride as well. If some poor liftie has woken up at the crack of dawn to earn a pittance transporting people up the mountain, you can sure as fuck do them the decency of pitching up as well.
Whiteouts test your ability as a snowboarder, you’ve gotta stay loose and ready. Slush is just fun, period. Rain means you can actually justify spending money on a decent jacket and means you sound less of a prick when you’re in the bar boasting about it...
We’re not going to lie; we have a list of tricks we want to get down each season.
It’s very easy to get stuck in the rut of just putting down the tricks you know and playing it safe. One of the ways to counter this is to have a set list in your head of what tricks you want to learn each season – this way you can keep track of what you’ve stomped and what you have to work towards.
Whilst some people might consider this a little bit ‘non-snowboarding’, taking things that you use on an everyday basis and applying them to snowboarding is a great way to progress. Imagine if you tried to keep track of everything you needed to do without writing it down?
The hands down and absolute best way to be a better snowboarder is to just have more fun than anyone else on the mountain. Just enjoy the ride…