Don’t Be Put Off By The Crowds And Cliques At The Snowboard Park

You’re sat at the top of the park, waiting to go… It’s been your turn for a while now, but you keep waving people through. You’re nervous. There’re a lot of people here, that means a lot of people watching. What’s worse, there are a lot of really good snowboarders here. You don’t want to mess up in front of everyone!

It’s very easy to be put off by crowds and cliques in these types of situations. I’m sure it’s happened to almost everyone in life, at some time or another. I know that I experience both sides of this with snowboarding. Here are a couple of examples:

  • I really like snowboarding at the Halifax dry slope. One of the reasons that I enjoy shredding there on a Saturday is that’s it’s really quiet. Sure, that means less waiting, but it also means I can try things out with just me and my friends. No one else watching. If there were other snowboarders there, I’d make friends, I’d learn stuff, I’d generally benefit. Yet I still like the slope being quiet.
  • The indoor slope at Castleford is short at around 150m. On a freestyle night there are always people queueing for the jumps or rails. Arriving at a feature it’s common for someone to say “no, you go first”, even though it’s their turn. They don’t want to be watched.

There are three very good reasons that you shouldn’t allow yourself to be put off by other people watching. To be honest, you only need think about the first, but you may be thinking “that’s easier said than done” so I’ll list all three…


1. Snowboarding is about having fun!

We all snowboard because it’s fun. A lot of fun. When you’re telling friends about your recent snowboard trip, you’re telling them how much fun it was. And when it comes to fun, there’s no right or wrong (you can trust me, Burton made a movie about that very concept).

So if you’re at the park as a beginner/intermediate/expert freestyler, and fun to you is trying something out on the kicker line, or maybe the rails and boxes, just do it. Block the other people out if you’re worried about them watching. You’ll feel a lot better if you just give stuff a go, rather than waiting and stewing; or worse, not even trying at all.

Even better, interact with your fellow snowboarders, you’ll probably have more fun. Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re up to. They might offer some help or tips, you might be able to help them, whatever. You’re there to have fun, and guess what, they’re there to have fun too!

Ideally, you shouldn’t let anyone else stand in the way of your own enjoyment. But that can be a little easier said than done, so read on…


2. If you’re put off by other people, you’re expecting the worse in them

Give people some credit. If you’re new to freestyle and you mess it up on a box or a kicker, it’s pretty unlikely that people are going to laugh at you, or tell you to get out of the park and stop wasting their time. What’s more likely, is that they’ll be sympathetic to the bail, to the learning process. Everyone slams when snowboarding.

As an example, check out my stupid bail on a kicker in Avoriaz:

At the end you can hear the crowd go “oooooh”. From the top it probably looked pretty hairy. They sympathised with the error, the potential pain. Sure, a few people might have thought it was funny, in retrospect it was, but the overriding reaction wasn’t laughter or criticism.

The people that let me through at Castleford – if one of them stacked it, the first thing I’d do is ask if they were alright. If someone asked me for help, I’d offer my best to them, with the caveat that I’m no pro.

Give people some credit. If you’re nervous about them watching you – ask yourself if they should be nervous about you watching them?


3. Everyone gets nervous at some point

It might not seem like it, but everyone gets nervous at some point. Remember that.

Way back in 2006 there was a series on the Extreme Sports Channel called Snow P.I.G. All professional snowboarders; one of them would do a trick, and if landed, the others had to follow. In the final, it came down to Scotty Arnold and Travis Rice. For the whole series, everyone had been using the 60′ kicker. Travis Rice decided to amp it up a bit and moved to the 90′ kicker. I’m pretty sure the trick was a backside 180, briefcase. He landed it.

Then it was Scotty Arnold’s turn. He’s at the top, ready to drop in, and he’s nervous. You can see it. It had started snowing, the run-in was changing, he was unsure. He gets the guy on the sled to radio down to Travis Rice and ask him if he speed checked. When he gets the answer, he asks the radio guy to make sure Travis isn’t playing around. He’s nervous about hitting a huge kicker.

I thought it was brilliant. Not because Scotty was nervous; I really like Scotty Arnold, I wanted him to win. What I really liked about it was the real life view of a pro shredder. Hey was nervous too, and with good right.

Getting nervous is part of snowboarding. It’s normal. But don’t get nervous because other people are there; they’re in a similar situation to you – having fun and trying to get better.


Have fun in the park

You’re at the park to have fun. So is everyone else. On the off chance that you do run into a real douchebag, someone with real attitude, just ignore them. Who’s bothered by what they think anyway?

What’s more likely is a park full of friendly snowboarders. So remember:

  • You’re having fun – relax and just do your thing
  • Give the other snowboarders credit – they’re there to have fun, not to criticise
  • Everyone there has been nervous at some point. You’re no different, that’s just part of snowboarding


  • Reply September 29, 2010


    Sweet post, after all what’s better then snowboarding with some friends.

  • Reply September 29, 2010


    great post!!! I love it!!! just what I need! I dont go to the park very often because i`m very shy….now Im going to try!!!! thanks!

  • Reply September 30, 2010


    Hey guys, glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 Looking forward to getting back in the park myself!

  • Reply October 17, 2011


    Couldn’t agree more Gav. It can be properly nervous watching having people watching while your trying to dial in a trick and your pretty certain your going to bail. Its that reason I particularly dislike the so called baby park in Avoriaz. Not just other boarders and skiers watching but the whole mountain it seems as the proclu chairlift runs overhead.

    I tend to think in this situation that the other boarders and skiers in the park will appreciate the fact that your having the balls to hit the features even if you bail. Those watching from the lift have no right to judge your ability if they themselves dont step up to the plate and have a go themselves. This tends to put me at ease as i drop.

    In reference to your fairly epic bail, I too had a pretty spectacular slam in that very park on probably the same kicker. It was very flat light and in hindsight i shouldnt have hit it… but i threw down a 360 and lost the landing in the poor vis. next thing i knew was crash landing pretty hard at the bottom of the landing, skis ejected and scattered just past the knuckle.
    Anyways, to cut a long story short, a few of the guys who were waiting to hit the jump came down to see if i was alright and help me pick up my skis and patch up my busted nose and lip which were spewing blood all down my stuff. My point is that the park is actually quite a social place and one where people do tend to help each other out, and keeping this in mind there is no need to be too nervous about other people seeing you hit the features.

    Great Article.

    p.s. i dont think you will remember me, but you and Ciara stayed in our chalet in morzine for two weeks in 2010. Really enjoying reading through your articles, however i must disagree slightly with your snowboarding better than skiing piece! but i guess its just a matter of opinion! lol

  • Reply October 17, 2011


    Hey Pete,

    how’s it going? Yeah I remember you 😉 Glad that you’ve enjoyed reading some of the articles. The snowboarding/skiing article created a bit of a stir – probably a mistake in the end, as although it is only an opinion, putting it out there like that is bound to generate some heat – especially when there’s no right answer!

    I’ve just started riding again at Cas’ – it’s been quite a while since the accident (July 2010). I’ve always enjoyed riding at Cas’ – but being a bit rusty and feeling like I’ve got some ground to make up, the first 30 – 45 minutes is a definite “warm up”. Once I’m starting to get in to it, I’m in a rhythm where I know that I’m progressing. I’ll hit a feature, then hit it again, but the second time with more confidence, so I commit that little bit more. Etc.

    It’s like that in any park if you’re feeling nervous because of other people. You’re not in a good position to be progressing, you’re worried about other stuff instead.

    I totally agree about the park being a social place – and the weird thing is, a lot of (new) people seem to assume otherwise. Most people will check you’re ok if you slam, they’ll offer help if you ask for it, they won’t ignore you etc. Sometimes it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing. As you get a little bit better, you get more confidence, then you’re more social yourself. Then you start to get more out of the environment, the scene. But without feeling confident, it takes that much longer to get better…

    Riding with like minded friends definitely helps with this situation – you’ve got your own little group to bounce off each other.

    Good to hear from you mate, I assume you’re skiing somewhere this season?

    Take it easy,

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