by Doug Werner
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Snowboarder's Start-Up: A Beginner's Guide to Snowboarding
Isn’t Snowboarding Like ...
I can understand why some people call snowboarding snow surfing. At a glance, you see a surfer-type guy or gal standing surfer-like on a board, whizzing and twirling and jumping through the snow. Like a surfer whizzes and twirls and jumps (well, sometimes) on the face of a wave.
They certainly seem to belong to the same genre and there is a lot of crossover. In most surf shops within a half day’s drive of the slopes you’ll find snowboarding equipment for sale. There are contests that feature participants competing in both sports and they’re held the same day (there’s a long drive in between events). Both sports are naturalistic, individualistic, thrilling, young (thinking) and daring. Both require balance, flexibility, quick reflexes and a strong pair of legs.
But the physics of the sports are very different. A surfer rides a moving mass of water on a strapless (usually) surfboard. A snowboarder slides down a snow covered slope due to gravity and the planing surface of a board secured to his or her feet. Surfers intuitively turn off their back foot which is planted on the tail of a surfboard. Snowboarders on the other hand must learn to act counter-intuitively as they maneuver with their weight somewhat forward.
Skiing is not a dissimilar pursuit. Both skiing and snowboarding take advantage of the same physics at the same places. Both involve sliding, snow and mountains. Riders in both sports turn in and out of the fall line using the edges of their planing surfaces.The obvious difference is that skiers wear two slats and snowboarders wear one. So the two camps suffer different injuries, and depending whom you talk to, one sport is easier to learn than the other. Skiers also utilize bindings that release when you fall whereas snowboarders do not.
If you already know how to ski you probably have an advantage. Unlike blank slate novices, you have a feel for sliding on snow, edging on the slopes and soaking wet gloves.
Skateboarding has had a tremendous influence on snowboarding. So many of the acrobatics are inspired by the sport on wheels, especially those performed in the halfpipe. The ranks of snowboarders are replete with sidewalk shredders, including the guy who just may have started it all, Tom Sims. Of course, the stance is similar and the act of skating downhill shares the gravity feed aspect of downhill snowboarding. That is, gravity provides the pull, hence the sliding on an inclined surface.
But skateboarders don’t dig the edges of their boards into the asphalt to make a turn.They shift their weight and work with the special trucking devices that the wheels are attached to. Skateboards roll. They do not slide. The demands of edge control aren’t involved in the physics of this sport.
Snowboarding is somewhat like skiing and not so much like surfing or skateboarding. As a student it’s best to approach the learning of snowboarding without the baggage of similarities. Snowboarding is definitely its own thing.
Anatomy of a Snowboarder on a Board
The novice snowboarder must decide which foot to strap in ahead of the other. Usually a righthander will opt for left foot forward and a lefty the right foot forward. Try sliding in your stocking feet on the kitchen floor to see which foot you naturally place ahead of the other.
When you know which foot leads, you’ll know your toe-side, your heel-side, your front shoulder and arm, and your rear shoulder and arm...
About the Author-
- Doug Werner is the author of nine books in the Start-Up Sports series. He lives in San Diego, California.
- Library Journal “Start-Up Sports tackles the hottest sports. These inexpensive titles are forthright and simple, with good illustrations and social pointers.”
- Skiing Magazine “A fun look at learning to ride.”
- Library Journal “Important chapters on safety and courtesy augment the no-nonsense sections on gear, terminology, and basic moves.”
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