December 24, 2021

How to Snowboard in Powder

by Bernice

Powder refers to snow that is still fresh and untouched. It is thick and very soft, just like powder, and this is the attribute that makes it a perfect surface for snowboarders and skiers alike. Its pillow-like texture makes it ideal for testing new tricks and increasing your speed. 

It is also easier to make sharp turns, hold your edge, and control your speed. However, there are also several challenges, chief among them the risk of sinking and having to dig yourself out. The following tips on how to snowboard in powder will ensure you avoid that, especially if you are a beginner. 


Table of Contents

Use the Right Stance for Perfect Balance

Your weight distribution ensures you can steer your board correctly, and it also prevents you from flipping forward and, at the same time, keeping the nose of the board up to enable you to stay afloat. The conventional way to achieve this is to lean back, but people misconstrue this as aggressively leaning back. However, this causes a couple of problems. 

First, shifting far back will affect the ease you steer since you need the front leg to guide the board. Secondly, you put much pressure on the back leg, making you tire quickly. It also hinders your ability to respond to a dynamic terrain quickly. 

To maintain the correct stance, do the following:

  • Start with your body at the center of the board with the knees, hips, and shoulders aligned. 
  • Slightly shift your weight towards the tail of the board about 2 inches.
  • Ensure you mostly stay over the board.
  • Don’t use your shoulders for steering; instead, use the front leg with hips and ankles. 

Related Article: What Is the Common Link between Rappelling and Snowboarding

Go for Open Turns

Powder snow has the negative aspect of slowing you down and risking sinking. Thus, you will lose momentum and dig your board in the snow with the wrong kind of turn. While closed turns with a short radius are common, the board goes across the fall line, slowing you down. The best option is sticking to open turns where the board does not get entirely across the fall line. It is a faster way of turning, and here is how to execute it:

  • Ensure you center your weight between the feet at the start of the turn.
  • Avoid leaning so much in the turn as that would get you off the center.
  • Keep your turns down the fall line, trying to avoid getting across the fall line fast and hard often. 

Find Rhythm with Subtle Movements 

Snowboarding on powder relies heavily on your rhythm and edging technique. You want to have less edge so that you get more base. It also allows you to lean with the whole body. Aggressive edging sinks the nose of your snowboard into the snow and decreases the speed. To maintain rhythm and achieve an excellent edging technique, do the following: 

  • Stay relaxed and maintain a little bounce during turns.
  • Keep your edge angle low by avoiding digging in your heels or hard cutting, as this will sink your board. If you keep digging yourself out, you will tire out quickly. 
  • Avoid making sudden movements and instead, use subtle ones in your ankle when making edge changes. Doing so allows you to maintain momentum.
  • The perfect rhythm feels like gently rolling a tennis ball beneath the foot, achieved by a slow rocking movement.
  • You can smoothly transition energy between turns by lifting your feet towards your chest using a slight bounce motion. 

Maintain a Higher Speed

Speed is another crucial aspect when snowboarding on powder. In addition to keeping you afloat, it makes maneuvering easier. Higher speed also makes it possible to compact the snow as you ride, preventing sinking. It is not a must to maintain those high speeds, but there are certain areas where you will need that high speed. These include:

  • Extended flat-out areas as they have a higher risk of slowing you down, or you can get stuck.
  • You will also need momentum when going to turns as it helps prevent tip-overs or a standstill edge-catch. It is especially true when going for a stop or start, and any extra movement will significantly impact the result. 
  • It would be best if you used different kinds of turns to control your speed. Thus, you use closed turns for low speed, and to keep or gain momentum, you stick to open turns. 

Know Your Terrain 

There is a good reason why riding powder is usually recommended for advanced snowboarders. That reason is because of the hidden obstacles underneath. They range from tree stumps and fallen trees to rock, and they can be dangerous if you don’t know where they are or how to spot them. 

Tripping on these objects can cause severe knee injury ending your season early. One of powder terrains’ dangers is tree wells. These are formed when a pile of snow powder falls around tree branches resulting in a hidden cavity. Tree wells are dangerous and hard to get out of, and for that reason, we have prepared a guide on how to ski and snowboard in trees.

It helps to look for things like spines, cliff and rock jumps, wind lips, and pillows. It will be excellent if you are snowboarding on a familiar terrain or get a view of it before snowboarding. You can use a gondola ride, a helicopter ride, or a chairlift to get an idea of the terrain before getting a ride. If the above are not options, prior hiking can help, or you use a familiar terrain. 

Pick the Right Snowboard 

The right snowboard can make the difference between successful powder riding and a challenge-filled experience. The consensus is that for powder riding, a specialist snowboard is necessary. You can choose between a full rocker board or a hybrid one. A full rocker improves your float because the nail and tail are higher than the board center. Also, you want a board with a broader nose and a narrower tail. 

The wide nose keeps the tip of the snowboard on top of the snow, while the narrower tail helps prevent leg burn in your rear leg. A hybrid board comes with the traditional camber, but it also has a rocker at both ends. They are excellent since they place pressure at the tail and the nose giving you more control to manoeuver around turns.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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