When you move down the slope, you do not necessarily move down straight the fall line, or the straightest path down where you easily gain speed. You would want to move from one side to another in order for you to control your speed and avoid certain objects blocking the path, e.g. other snowboarders and large rocks.
There are four important techniques that you need to master in order for you to move down the slope, which are traversing, falling leaf, and garlands.
Mastering these techniques would allow you to move down different types of terrain and make you learn how to control speed and direction depending on the situation that you are in. If you have mastered sideslipping using both edges, then you should not have difficulty learning these techniques.
If you want to move from one side of the slope to another slowly, traversing would be the skill that you need to master. It allows you to make use of your downhill edge to control the speed of the board. To learn how to traverse a slope, follow the following steps.
- Look at the direction that you want to go. To keep your balance, spread your arms.
- Turn your upper body towards your target direction and shift your body towards your front foot. That would make your board slightly angle downhill. You would begin to move downward. However, if you think that you are moving too fast, shift the weight towards your back foot to slow down.
- Now, it’s time to move towards the other side, just like you did in the earlier steps, look to the other direction and turn your upper body to that direction. However, shift your weight towards back foot to move towards the opposite direction,
Learning this trick would also teach you how to control speed and direction simply by shifting your weight.
Falling leaf is the technique that allows you to ride back and forth in pattern, which is similar to the movement of a falling leaf. The only difference is that you can control the direction where you want to go. This movement allows you to move in a steeper zigzag pattern and allow you to move down a lot trickier and steeper slopes.
The falling leaf is very similar to doing the traverse, except that it mainly uses the edges of the board, allowing quicker movements. Follow these steps to learn this technique.
- Like in doing the traverse, look towards the direction that you want to go to and spread your arms to gain balance.
- Put your weight towards your front foot to move forward. Cut across the slope’s fall line to gain speed, but do not forget to angle your board like you do in traverse. Doing so would help you move in a diagonal direction and have more control over your board’s speed.
- Balance your weight to the edge that you are more used to. If you are more confident to use your toe edge, do not lean back and shift to your heel edge to help you maintain your center of gravity. To shift to the other direction, simply shift your weight to your back foot and do Steps 1 and 2.
- Continue doing zigzag movements until you reach your destination.
Garlands surely look like Christmas tree decorations because of the pattern that you would make in the snow after performing this technique successively. When you do a garland, you are performing half-turns and not changing the edge, which allows you to make use of the fall line and perform breaks as you slide down the slope. Follow the following steps to perform this technique.
- Choose a wide area with a moderate slope and find its fall line. Look towards the direction where you want to go and place your board on the snow in a heelside position.
- When you are ready to move, decrease the edge angle by putting more of the back of the board on the snow. Shift your weight on your front foot to move forward.
- Start by gliding in a straight path, following the fall line. You would notice that you will gain speed because you are directly following the gravity by pointing the nose of the board parallel to the fall line.
- After you have gained the speed that you want, start slowing down by increasing your heel edge and shifting your weight to the back foot. Now, get ready to turn sideways.
- Gradually move the nose of the board across the fall lime. Take note that you will be making a complete stop once you turn the board so maintain your balance.
- Once you have turned the board perpendicular to the fall line, you have successfully made a garland.
Linking turns is the final technique that you need to learn before you can call yourself a real snowboarder. This technique is a combination of all the techniques that you have learned in this article.
As implied in its name, linking turns is actually a series of traverses and changing edges. Follow these steps to learn this technique.
- Select a moderate slope and find the fall line. Turn your upper body and your head towards the direction where you want to go. Bend your legs and keep the center of your gravity low.
- Shift your board and point it downhill. Take note that you would immediately accelerate, since you are following the fall line. If you think that you are going too fast, just shift your weight to your back foot to reduce speed or to abort your turn.
- When you start picking up speed, you would notice that your board is pointing straight down. Now, pivot the board from heelside to toeside, and make sure you shift edges quickly to reduce your speed. If you don’t do that, your board will continue to speed up and you might fall while attempting a turn.
- Twist your front foot to turn the board by pushing the board down using your back foot. As you do that, extend your legs and shift your weight upwards. Complete the turn by twisting the front foot and pushing the board using your back foot to move the board away from the fall line. Once you have done that, you have made a toeside turn and you are making a traverse on your toeside.
- Keep traversing until you are ready to link another turn. Make sure that your head and upper body are facing the direction you want to go to.
- Once you are ready, start the next turn by shifting the weight of your body towards your front foot to pick up speed. Like in step 2, you can abort your attempt to turn by shifting your weight back and continuing the toeside traverse.
- Now, your board will be pointing down, following the fall line. Pivot your board and switch to your heelside edge quickly to stop gaining speed.
- Twist your foot and push your weight on your back foot. Similar to step 4, extend your legs to move your center of gravity upwards. Complete the turn by keeping your back foot pushed until you have moved the nose of the board away from the fall line. After that, you have successfully made a heelside turn.
Once you are able to do these techniques repeatedly, you would be able to do more complicated tricks in the near future! Congratulations on being a real snowboarder!