How to ride the chairlift.

Once you’re comfortable with skating, straight glides and j-turns, you’re ready to take the chairlift. Riding the lift can be a massive source of fear for beginners. And it’s no wonder, what with being 30 feet in the air and the possibility of crashing into the innocent bi-standards sitting beside you. But don’t worry, riding the chairlift is something you already know how to do.

Successful chairlift riding involves 4 movements you already know:

If you’re a loyal fan of, you should have already perfected Skating and J-turns. That leaves us will sitting and standing.

Step 1: Practice sitting

Though similar to sitting on the sofa, there are a few variables to consider. You’ll have your front foot strapped into your snowboard, so your leg will be turned sideways. Stand in front of a chair at home and turn your front foot 90 degrees. Now look behind you at the chair and slowly lower to sit. Instead of planting your entire ass on the seat, you’ll touch down with one cheek first – the cheek over your back leg. Once you touch-down, shift your weight so your whole butt is resting on the chair and scoot back.

Step 2: Practice standing up

Using the same chair, rotate your front foot 90 degrees, scootch toward the edge of the chair and roll up on one bun – the cheek of your back leg. Let your back foot just dangle (your front leg will be doing most of the work). Use your arms to push out of the chair (kinda like your 90-year old grandpa getting up) and, when ready, place your back foot on your imaginary stomp pad and coast away.

Step 3: Know chairlift etiquette

Follow the local lift line rules and be courteous. Don’t bash your board against the person in front and, please dear god, alternate. Taking turns will make the whole line go faster. It’s always a good practice to lower the high-back of your back binding. This prevents it from being crushed by the chairlift when you sit down. It only takes a second, but it might save you an annoying and expensive repair.

Step 4: Load the chairlift

When you approach the loading area, watch the people in front of you. Right when the chair passes you, skate forward and stop at the “Load Here” sign. Just move at a normal, calm pace. You don’t need to rush, but you don’t want to dawdle either. Turn to look at the chair approaching from behind. Just like you practiced inside, lower onto one cheek first then scootch to the back of the chair. It’s totally okay to put your arm over the chair to help you get on.

Step 5: Riding the chair

Riding the chair is pretty much just sitting…but with a 15 pound weight on your leg. Lower the safety-bar and get comfy. You can take the load off your front foot by resting your board on your back-leg.

Step 6: Get off the chairlift

When you approach the top, point your snowboard straight and keep your tip up. When the snowboard makes contact with the snow, roll to one cheek and use your arms to rise off the chair (just like getting off the couch). Rest your back foot on the stomp pad and coast away. Use a J-turn if you need to turn, but don’t try to stop by dragging your foot in the snow. You will do the splits, and no one wants that.


  • Stay calm. Stand-up and stay still until you naturally come to a stop
  • Don’t try to stop yourself. Use a relaxed J-Turn if you need to maneuver around an obstacle
  • Keep your foot on your stomp pad (don’t try to stop by dragging it in the snow)
  • Don’t worry about the people sitting beside you. Let them know you are a beginner and they should politely stay out of your way

Drills that help if you fall when getting off the chairlift

If you do crash when getting off the lift, here are some drills to smooth things out. Head to the bunny hill and practice J-Turns that start off with a distraction—just like when you ride the chairlift.

  • Sit on the snow with just your front foot strapped in. Stand up and quickly turn your board down-hill into a J-turn.
  • Start while squatting down, then rise up into a J-turn.
  • Hop then do a J-turn
  • Raise and lower your back leg a couple times while doing a j-turn

Though it can be a little intimidating, riding the chairlift is easy because you pretty much already know how. Plus, it’s much easier than hiking and opens the door to learn all sorts of new skills, like garlands and turning.

Next step: Get up, Start & Stop

8 Responses to Step 5: Ride the chairlift
  1. Jorge
    January 25, 2013 | 3:51 am

    Hi. Thanks for this video. The next video does not have a link, it just says the name. IT should be an easy fix.

    Keep up the good work

  2. Carmel Davy
    January 2, 2013 | 6:40 pm

    Hi, I am 56 and starting snowboarding for the first time. My 4 children and my husband are all snowboarders (varying levels). We are heading to Japan in 3 weeks andI didn’t want to get to the snow knowing nothing so I have been reviewing your videos and they are very easy to understand and hopefully practice when I get to Japan. Thank you for keeping it simple. Cheers Carmel (Australia).

  3. Michel
    January 2, 2013 | 9:03 am

    Thanks for your great video lessons. I’have been watching them over the years and I still learn.
    Everytime I get off the chairlift I fall. Either my son fall beside me or I feel non-confident.
    Well yesterday I say “it’s enought!” I looked forward the slope and the direction I was going to take. I stand tall and told myself I could do it and I ddn’t fell once. It was psychological more than everything else.
    Thanks for your website!

  4. AC
    February 19, 2012 | 8:22 am

    People have a natural tendency to point their toes forward when sitting which will cause the board to turn sideways. On a rare occasion, you will see beginners faceplant off the chairlift as their toe side edge digs in. I barely escaped this fate my first time but learned a valuable lesson… keep the toe of your board pointing uphill until you clear the ground.

  5. Sven
    November 6, 2011 | 4:20 am

    I really like your videos and watched them more than one time.
    For myself, it was not really difficult to ride a chairlift, but a button- or a t-bar lift is making my knees shiver… I think these lifts are hard for nearly every beginner.
    Why you never made a video about it? Maybe there are not many lifts like these in the US? I’m from Germany and in the alps, especially on the glaciers, are many t-bar lifts.
    Would be great if you find some time in the upcoming season to make a video how to ride a t-bar lift.


  6. Daniel
    October 27, 2011 | 1:02 am

    Your videos are awesome! I will recommend to all my friends who are just starting out! I love how you guys really take everything step by step! As you know this sport is growing and its more fun in a group so im trying all my friends and family to get into it and enjoy it. And unlike Dan here i have no problem with my kid hearing the ass word because i actually teach my kid not to repeat stuff they hear on tv or internet! Plus ass.. really? Is it that bad? I heard worse on day time tv. Anyway you guys are great. Keep up the good work!

  7. Dan K.
    February 18, 2011 | 4:14 am

    Hey, Great videos! I would like to use them to teach my nephews and kids to board. However after reviewing the videos, I noticed that video #5 has the word ASS in it. I cannot use it for my young ones. Could you replace that one word with butt or something more kid friendly.
    Also, it says “Dear God…” I would prefer someting else here but I can live with that. I’m trying to be flexible because this really is a great and well thought out common sense guide to beginner boarding.


    • Jill
      February 19, 2011 | 4:57 am

      Hi Dan! Thanks for watching the videos and for the feedback. I think it’s the first time anyone has thought we are not tame enough! Normally we hear, “you guys are lame.” 🙂

      We’ll keep your feedback in mind as we produce additional content and update old stuff. I don’t really like that word in this episode either (just don’t like how it sounds) — scripts always sound so different on paper vs. on film. We probably won’t be able to change it though; both due to time constraints and because it was authentic at the time we produced it. Our personalities, phrases, teaching style and sense of humor all come across in the videos and that’s important to us. That’s why we don’t wear baggy cloths and act super cool, because we are not. But we do have a sophomoric sense of humor and we say ass and sometimes worse (like when I dropped a dirty diaper “peanut butter” side down last week).

      You can always watch it together and let them know Snowprofessors say the wrong thing from time to time — it’ll be good practice for the lift line where a lot of unsavory language is exchanged. Or adapt our progressions and teach the kids directly (without watching the vids) — I’m sure snowboard lessons would mean more coming from you anyway.

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