Ready to take a break from skis and strap into a snowboard?
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
As a skier, you already know the ins and outs of what it takes to shred powder. Transitioning to snowboarding just requires you to transfer those skills and make a few adjustments.
Of course, there’s going to be a learning curve, but don’t worry! We’re going to cover ten tips for switching from skiing to snowboarding!
1. Get the Right Gear
The right gear doesn’t mean the most expensive gear. Just like your ski equipment, it’s crucial to find a board, boots, bindings, and snow clothes that fit and feel comfortable.
Snowboards come in all shapes and sizes.
All-Mountain and Freestyle boards are excellent options when you’re getting the hang of things. These designs have a soft to medium flex and can be used for most types of riding. Picking the right board is tough though, so take a look at our Buyer’s Guide, and we’ll help walk you through it.
Jacket and Pants
In general, snowboarders tend to choose looser jackets and snow pants compared to skiers.
Snowboarding requires a bit more upper-body movement, so a more relaxed fit may be more comfortable. But everyone has a preference, so choose what works best for you.
Boots and Bindings
Snowboard boots are one of the best parts about switching from skiing to snowboarding. They’re comfier, more flexible, and–let’s be honest–more stylish. As a novice snowboarder, look for flexible boots. Stiff boots are less forgiving, and that’s not what you need in the early days.
Once again, we have a pretty detailed snowboard boot buying guide if you have a spare moment.
Bindings with a softer flex tend to be better for beginners. You may also want to choose a pair that’s easy to strap into and out of (like these); it will minimize those frustrating moments and make the whole experience a heck of a lot smoother.
2. Consider Wrist Guards
When you’re switching from skiing to snowboarding, expect to fall…a lot.
Each time you go down, your natural reaction will be to stick out your hands. Don’t. The last thing you need is to end the day with a pair of broken wrists–no thanks! So, consider strapping on some wrist guards.
Sure, wearing wrist guards might not be the coolest thing in the world, but who cares?
It’ll give you a boost of confidence as you glide down the mountain and try new techniques. Once your fall-rate decreases, then you can take them off and be as cool as everyone else.
But remember, safety should always be your number one priority!
3. Master the Stance
One of the key differences between skiing and snowboarding is the stance.
On skis, you face forward, and your feet typically stay parallel and periodically more away from each other and closer together.
On a snowboard, you’re sidewise, and your feet are locked in place. So, you have to choose a lead leg.
Most people prefer to put their dominant leg in the back. This is the leg you’ll use as you skate toward the ski lift.
Regular Stance: Left foot forward.
Goofy Stance: Right foot forward.
If you’re switching from skiing to snowboarding and don’t know what stance is best for you, try both and see which feels best.
4. Start on Easy Trails
Before you hit the double black diamonds that you destroy on skis, take a step back.
Head to those nice and easy trails with gentle inclines. It will give you a chance to learn the basics and get a feel for things.
And, since you’ll likely be slipping and sliding all over the place, you won’t become an obstacle for more advanced riders.
Be careful on bunny slopes though. On crowded days, there will be a lot of newbies–that’s a recipe for disaster, so don’t stick around too long. As someone with skiing knowledge, you could probably start on green runs and be A-OK.
5. Learn To Fall
Falling on a snowboard is a bit different than what you’re used to. You’ll either fall forward or backward, and, unlike skis, the board will stay attached to your feet.
Mastering the technique is crucial to keep your body safe and intact.
So, what’s the correct way to fall?
How to Fall on a Snowboard:
- Flex your legs and stay as low to the ground as possible. The lower you are, the less the impact will be.
- Don’t reach out with your palms. Falling on your hands is a great way to break your wrists. Instead, tuck in your arms, and rely on your forearms, legs, or bum to take the worst of the impact.
- Roll with the fall. Rolling will disperse the force of the impact, but make sure to keep your arms tucked into your ribs.
No matter how great of a skier you are, you’re going to fall as a novice snowboarder. Practice those first few tumbles on slopes with low inclines. Be very mindful of what you do with your body each time you go down.
6. Practice Your Edge Techniques
Similar to skiing, edge-sliding is a key technique in snowboarding. However, instead of using the sides of your feet to carve and skid, you’ll be using your toes and heels. This may feel a bit foreign as you’re switching from skiing to snowboarding.
- Slightly lean forward onto your front foot’s toes.
- Apply pressure to your toe side edge with both legs.
- Lift your heels to begin carving or skidding.
- If you are moving slowly, slightly dropping your heels will initiate a slide, and raising your heels will slow you down.
- Don’t fully drop your heels to the ground to avoid catching an edge and wiping out.
- Slightly lean onto your back foot’s heel.
- Apply pressure to your heel side edge with both legs.
- Lift your toes to begin carving or skidding.
- If you are moving slowly, slightly dropping your toes will initiate a slide, and raising your toes will slow you down.
- Don’t fully drop your toes to the ground to avoid catching an edge and wiping out.
Start on gentle slopes, and practice switching back and forth between your toe and heel edges. Keep a nice and slow speed while you build up confidence. As you improve, pick up more speed and feel the glory of carving down the mountain on a snowboard!
7. Ride Across the Slope
Your first attempt at snowboarding isn’t the time to be a speed demon. Instead of pointing the nose of your board down the mountain, ride across the slope.
Riding side to side allows you to get comfortable riding on both edges, turning, and controlling your speed. It’s a fundamental technique you can build more advanced maneuvers on top of.
The more perpendicular your crossings are, the slower you’ll go. Gradually point your nose downhill as you build confidence.
Always keep an eye out for riders uphill. Before you change directions, check your surroundings. By being aware, you’ll avoid collisions and confrontations with others.
8. Watch Others
The other snowboarders on the mountain are the best teachers when you’re switching from skiing to snowboarding.
Take the time to watch how others handle their boards, position their bodies, and deal with certain obstacles. Visual learning is an excellent tool, so expose yourself to new styles and techniques, and give them a try!
A great place to observe others is on the ski lift. You’ll have the perfect view of riders taking turns, hitting jumps, and sliding on boxes.
If you happen to be sitting next to a fellow snowboarder, ask questions. Most people are happy to share tips and tricks with new riders.
9. Set Realistic Goals
Be prepared to be a beginner again. Although some of your skiing skills will transfer over, snowboarding is its own beast.
Try to stay realistic and set attainable goals. It will give you a clearer direction for improvement and a sense of achievement when you accomplish each milestone.
Make a plan to conquer one technique at a time. For example, dedicate one session to mastering the toe-side edge. Once you’ve got that down, dedicate the next session to mastering the heel side.
Make sure to pat yourself on the back for every new skill acquired!
10. Embrace the Learning Curve
Here’s the deal, your attitude is everything when switching from skiing to snowboarding.
Accept the fact that learning to snowboard will demand time and effort. It may take a few years to reach your level of skiing, but that’s okay!
Embrace the learning curve and have fun with it. Consistently challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to push your boundaries.
Expect setbacks, wipeouts, and ice sliding down parts of your body where it shouldn’t. But that rewarding feeling you’ll get from seeing yourself improve is worth it!
Switching from skiing to snowboarding is a big decision… but also an exciting one.
You have a whole new world to discover, and your skiing knowledge will be a massive help.
Sure, the idea of being a beginner again may be daunting, but the rewards are worth it; there’s nothing quite like the feeling of bombing a mountain on a snowboard.
So, keep these tips in mind, and enjoy your days as a snowboarder!