Snowboarding in fresh powder is one of the most unreal experiences, unfortunately, some snowboarders are not confident enough to experience this–but don’t worry! I will give you six tips on how to improve snowboarding in powder.
Writing this article wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for my friend, Sigmund Chan(CASI Level 3 Instructor).
Tip 1: Let’s get back to the stance
People who are not used to powder riding may feel that the board will easily sink. Therefore, let’s get back to the stance setting to help the board float. This stance is called setback.
The setback stance helps the nose float.
If you want to setback, personally I recommend about 2 cm.
My friend Sig said, “You might even find that your board reference point is already set back. For example, Burton’s Custom board is already set back by 1.25cm(half an inch).
A lot will depend on the rider… for example , a deep powder day with alpine students might be better to have them set back more than 2 cm, maybe more like 1.5-2 inches .. so 3.5-5cms.
I have my boards set back one set of holes from center normally.
Around 0.75-1.5 inches is normal for set back which is 1.8-3.7cms”.
Here is Sig’s pow riding below. Use it to imagine your powder riding.
Long snowboards also help floating
If you’re renting a snowboard, it’s a good idea to ask for a longer or wider board that will have more surface area. This helps you float, making them ideal for powder days.
Tip 2: Put your weight on your hind leg
When riding the powder, you need to put your weight on your hind leg.
It depends on speed, slope and snow condition.
If the speed is fast, you don’t have to ride on your hind leg so much.
On the other hand, on gentle slopes where speed is likely to slow down, you need to ride more on your hind leg.
Also, the lighter the snow quality, the less you need to ride on your hind leg, but if it’s heavy fresh snow, put more pressure on your back leg.
There are roughly three types of weight ratios that you put on your front and hind leg.
45 : 55
It’s almost like normal riding.
45 : 55 is when the speed is good or when the slope is steep.
This is also the case with uneven slopes, which is common during a fresh snow day.
40 : 60
This is what you should feel while riding in the fresh snow; the slopes are intermediate and advanced.
30 : 70
When riding powder, there is more friction so you will end up going slower.
Even when riding on intermediate slopes, there are often times when you’ll get stuck.
In such a case, try to put your weight on your hind leg.
In preparation for riding with powder, practice the movement of riding on your hind leg on a flat surface first.
Tips 3: Use hind leg instead of front!
When you are riding in normal conditions, the front leg will act as a steering guide when making turns. When you are riding on pow, use more of your hind leg instead of the front leg. Steer with your hind ankle, kind of like pushing on the accelerator in a car.
When you go to the toe side turn, bend your hind knee and ankle firmly. The point is to make it feel like you’re pressing the shin against the snow surface.
When you go to the heel side, the main idea is to lift your toes towards your chest.
Tip 4: Ride on the base instead of the edge
Normally, when you ride on a non-powder area you use the edges to make turns, but in powder you should be riding with your base.
Riding with less edges will allow your board to better float on the powder—the more you float, the less you sink!
The parts painted in red and blue in the pictures above are the parts I focus on while riding in powder.
You should be applying this part of the base onto the powder, kinda like putting butter onto bread.
If you ride without this mindset, you may find that you are turning too sharply, the nose of the board is being caught in the snow, or your board will start to sink.
This is especially true on the toe side turns.
When entering the toe side turn, make a roundabout turn as if you were drawing a circle with a protractor.
Tip 5: Keep your eyes up!
People tend to look down when they are riding powder.
First, stand at the top of the slope, and then visualize a line to ride.
When you start riding, keep your eyes up! If you look down, you are more likely to slow down and get stuck.
Tip 6: Keep speed/try to go faster!
When you are riding in powder, it will be slower than usual, so don’t be afraid to try and speed up before hand! More speed will help the board float better. Riding powder is one of the best experiences for snowboarders.
It doesn’t hurt if you fall—full send it!
To understand your basic snowboarding stance, I recommend reading the content below, too.