Learn to snowboard in powder.

A snow storm is probably the best snowboarding you’ll ever get. While die-hards quiver with excitement looking at the snow report, many snowboarders don’t know how to tackle powder. In this episode we cover tips and techniques so you can make the most of powder days.

Improve powder riding by changing your snowboard bindings
You can improve your powder riding by making simple adjustments to your equipment. If you have an all mountain or park snowboard, consider setting your stance back 1-3 inches from center to help keep your tip up. Serious powder riders can set the bindings back as far as the inserts allow. If you have a powder specific snowboard, you’re ready to hit first chair.

Practice sitting back
On a powder board, you can float without having to sit back. For everyone else, you’ll need to lean back slightly in powder to keep your tip up. Sit back too little and you risk burying your tip and crashing. Too much and you’ll be slow to react and get tired faster.

Instead of being equal, you should have about 60-70% of your weight on your back leg. Think of the subtle way you shift your weight when standing. You don’t want to do a manual here, just put more pressure over your back leg. Practice this at the bottom of the hill. You’ll notice that your back leg will get a little tired.

Practice powder turns

On groomed snow you can make any number of turns: carved, skidded and basic. You’re options are limitless. In powder, you’ll want to use skidded turns that are dynamic.

Practice these turns on a steep groomed run (steep terrain will make it easier to be dynamic). Stay bouncy with your legs and keep your snowboard pretty flat to the snow. You don’t want to dig in and carve powder, just subtly tip your snowboard to surf your turns.

Keep movements subtle
Your motions should be very subtle. Since your snowboard will be floating across several inches of billowy snow, you‘ll feel like you’re in slow motion. When you push down, soft powder won’t hold you up. While you can quickly dig in your edges on packed snow, you’ll sink if you try in powder. Motions should be subtle to avoid burying your snowboard with abrupt reactions.

Maintain speed in powder
Though movements should be slow, you want to keep your speed up. Deep powder will slow you down so make bigger turns to maintain your speed. Going fast will make deep snow easier because the added momentum will help you float and maneuver your snowboard. If you’re too slow, you’ll sink down and have to dig yourself out.

Be dynamic and bouncy
To stay bouncy, imagine lifting your feet to your chest between turns. The snow can hide obstacles so look ahead and keep your knees soft. Soft legs will help you absorb and recover from any bumps. Although they say, “no friends on a powder day,” it’s safer to ride with a buddy.

If you feel like you’re floating or surfing, you’re doing it right. If it’s the best day of snowboarding you’ve ever had even though your back leg is super tired, you’re doing it right. If you start saying things like, “wooo!” while turning and high-five strangers in the lift-line, you’re doing it right.

Related videos: Introduction to dynamic riding

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Rating: 9.3/10 (16 votes cast)
Snowboard powder, 9.3 out of 10 based on 16 ratings
8 Responses to Snowboard powder
  1. Moritz
    January 7, 2013 | 1:59 pm

    Hi,

    can you explain how to do turns in Powder, when it is really steep?

    Thank you for the best videos and explanation on the web!

    • Simon
      February 17, 2013 | 8:22 pm

      Option 1. Don’t do turns, just head straight into the pow! If you get too fast move out of the fall line to take speed away.
      Option 2. When turning, put pressure on your front foot and use it as pivot to get your tail to swing into the other direction.
      3. if you fall, it’s likely to be soft anyway.

  2. Christian
    December 30, 2011 | 5:07 pm

    I disregarded the little lean back on powder one day on the zugspitze next to the main slope which then lead to my tip digging in and me doing a full front-flip and riding on which stoked me so much I crashed a few ten meters later.

    Lesson: if you’re not leaning back enough on powder, be at least prepared for a front flip and try to look cool during doing it…

  3. cliff
    December 9, 2011 | 8:21 am

    great vids.. funny
    Q?
    looking for a powder board – thinking of the Abor A-frame – I’m 6’0 – 210.. would the 166 be recommended?
    thanks again for the vids – best on youtube for sure..
    Cliff

    • Rick
      December 11, 2011 | 2:28 pm

      The 166 should work great.

  4. Bo
    November 23, 2011 | 4:00 pm

    Love your vids + you two are funny too! :) Question:

    Is a progressive sidecut useful at all in powder, or pretty much only applicable to carving hardpack/groomers? As I understand it:

    1. you’re suppose to mount bindings “centered” on the progressive sidecut on a board, otherwise your board will ride funny due to the resulting weird board/binding flex

    2. for riding in powder, you can shift both your bindings ~2 inches toward the tail to give yourself more nose lift in those conditions.

    So for powder situations, can I disregard #1 above and just stick to #2? Thanks

    • Rick
      November 23, 2011 | 7:01 pm

      Bo,

      Basically, yes you are correct. In powder, sidecut doesn’t really matter.

  5. soolara
    February 22, 2011 | 12:34 am

    This would have been SO helpful last Thursday instead of my Monday morning quarterbacking – hitting 5 feet of fresh first chair definitely took me a bit to find my mojo and sort out what was going to work! Thanks for these solid tips!



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