Snowboarding Steep Terrain
Steeps are a lot of fun and essential to navigating the whole mountain. If you can carve intermediate runs, steep terrain will be easy as long as you have good posture and speed control.
The posture you need on steep terrain isn’t any different from normal snowboarding -- it’s just more exaggerated. You want your head looking downhill, your shoulders parallel with your stance, your knees bent, weight centered and your body level with the terrain. The steep slope makes it harder to maintain this posture. Many of us instinctively sit back on steeps—causing you to fight the hill. Keep your body weight centered between both legs and your shoulders level with the terrain. Think of installing a shelf…if it’s not level, stuffs gonna fall off.
Step 1: Practice snowboard posture
Stand on a steep incline to get the feeling. It helps to exaggerate putting weight over your front leg and imagine driving your front shoulder down the hill. This is the confident posture you need to attack the run. If you sit back, even a little, it’s hard to react.
Step 2: Practice pivot turns inside
Now that you know the posture, learn ways to control your speed. There are quite a few options. You can always just sideslip if you get in trouble, but we prefer you try skidded turns, pivot turns, carves or just straight-line it.
Step 3: Pivot turns on an easy run
Pivot turns are a great way to control speed. Shift weight over your front leg, dig your edge in and pivot your back leg around. It looks like a wind-shield wiper. Try it at on a slippery floor. Put a towel under your back foot, transfer weight over your front leg and swing your back foot around. You need to shift your weight forward at the start of the turn and back at the end.
Practice these turns on an intermediate run. Imagine shifting weight over your front leg and lifting your back foot to bring the snowboard around. Stay bouncy up and down. Imagine being light as you initiate the turn and heavy as you finish it.
Options Controlling Speed: sideslips & pauses
Steep terrain will cause rapid acceleration and these pivot turns help you make agile turns without accumulating too much speed. If you’re intimidated and freeze up, try skidded turns with a side-slip in between. From a heel side-slip, make one toe turn and pause again in a toe side-slip. Continue to make these single turns and gradually reduce the side-slip in between. Use the hill to slow you down by turning back uphill. You’ll be able to maneuver in a pinch and avoid careening out of control.
Options Controlling Speed: Control speed carving uphill
More experienced riders can step up to carved turns, especially when the snow is good. Carving can be a fast, exciting and stable way to tackle steeps. You’ll generate speed so USE the hill to help you slow down. Instead of making loose S-carves, complete your turns and head uphill to scrub speed.
Options Controlling Speed: Straight line
Experts can point it. Instead of flat based, you’ll probably be on your toes or heels (this will add control with less chance of catching an edge). Now, use discretion with this technique. You still need to stay in control, but it is handy if there’s a steep face above a long, flat traverse.
Keep it level, control your speed and have fun getting down the mountain. You’re adrenalin with thank you.