One of the best ways to practice your control on a snowboard is to practice riding it downhill. A preliminary to this is that you should have already mastered the use of the board on more flat areas, ideally in the easier settings of park jumps. One you are good at navigating flatter surfaces on your board, it is time to take it up one notch and try your hands on downhill snowboarding.
Downhill snowboarding, as the name obviously suggests, is when you snowboard across a downhill slope. Just like water glides from the top of the hill all the way to the bottom, so would your snowboard if you can’t control its speed and movement. So it is vital to know that snowboarding downhill requires some skill at controlling the speed and movement of a snowboard using a wide range of tips and tricks.
Here are some vital steps and tips on how best to snowboard downhill.
Determine your downhill facing side
This is important because it will determine which will be your dominant foot during the downhill glide. While snowboarding downhill, you will have one foot in front of the other. Typically, it should be your stronger foot, one with which you can direct the movement of the board more strongly. Also, it is usually the same foot which you would keep in front during any snowboarding sessions on a flatter area. Once you have determined the right side to face downhill, stick to it during your downhill boarding session.
Find a suitable slope
If you are trying your hands at a downhill ride, it is highly advisable that you choose a slope that isn’t too steep and has a wide bottom. At one hand, this will give you confidence, given that such a slope isn’t dangerous even if you can’t control the board perfectly. At the other hand, it will give you plenty of room to practice downhill riding before you go on to try it on a steeper slope.
Learn to control your speed
If you keep going downhill without tempering the speed of your snowboard, you are likely to collide into a fellow snowboarder or something else. A part of having control over your snowboard is to be able to control its speed as well. There are many ways of controlling the speed of a snowboard while riding downhill.
A popular and highly effective method is to make S-shaped turns, called linked turns, in the snow. When you are going straight downhill, these turns will help reduce the speed of your board and give you time enough to control the board more effectively.
Also, if you are riding at a slope where there are no other riders, you may try making wide zipper-shaped turns on the snow. This will be even more effective in reducing the speed of the board and giving you more time on the slope.
Look where you are going
Always keep your eyes focused on the direction you wish to take, especially when making turns on a slope. This is because your head and shoulders will automatically follow the direction of your sight and so will your snowboard, almost like a reflex action. So keep your eyes focused on where you are going when riding downhill.
Keep your pressure on the heel side
When you are riding downhill, your front foot is called the toeside of your board while the rear foot is called the heel side. It is very important to remember that you must exert pressure on the heel side when riding downhill.
Basically, you will want to keep your toeside agile and light while basing your pressure and stability on the heelside. This will leave your toeside to easily move the board whenever and whenever you need to.
If you apply too much pressure on the toeside, it will force your snowboard to sink into snow and stop, immediately causing you to fall over. So it’s worth remembering that you should never apply pressure on the downhill edge of your board.
However, at the same time, you must keep sufficient pressure on the toeside so that it can direct the movements of your snowboard effectively. If the toeside becomes too light and you focus too much weight on the heelside, this will diminish your control on the direction or movement of the board.
Learn to stop the board
When you are riding downhill, mastering the art of stopping the snowboard takes a bit of practicing. In simple terms, all you have to do is bring the board perpendicular to the slope.
This will make your board’s edges scrape against the downhill slope for a brief while and then effectively bring it to a stop. An important thing to remember here is that the pressure you apply on your snowboard when bringing it to a pause will determine the quickness with which it stops.
So for instance, if you are going downhill too quickly, you can bring the board perpendicular to the slope and stop it. But doing it too quickly may cause you to lose stability and overturn the board. Hence, it is advisable that you apply only so much pressure which wouldn’t disturb your stability on the board when bringing it to a stop on a downhill ride.