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nooboarder 03-28-2013 01:38 PM

Not sure how to progress next
Got hooked on snowboarding this season in January and can't get enough. This forum has been awesome for tips and gear info so figured I'd see what you guys recommend. I'm feeling like I'm having trouble making the next step in my progression. Not sure how to link turns or even start trying.

Have gone up 5 times, and just had my 7th day up on the mountain yesterday. I can't get up on my heel (still) but I'm pretty much an expert at falling leaf toeside. My last time out I worked on toeside to heelside turns so I could start learning how to ride heel, and finally got it after a lot of wipeouts. Yesterday I could do toeside to heelside turns regularly and even at some speed down blues. I started working on heelside to toeside turns, and can do it, but not as well. Just not as comfortable on my heel as I am on my toe.

I'm not sure what I should be working on, and the "aha" moment I had the first time I did a toeside to heelside turn the time out before yesterday just didn't come yesterday. I feel like I'm at a plateau or something. At this point I'm an expert on falling leaf toeside and think with another day will be an expert on falling leaf heelside (lol) and hopefully be able to turn heelside to toeside much better.

The problem with my turning, though, is that by the time I am initiating the turn I'm usually going pretty fast so I overcompensate and turn all the way, slowing myself down into a sideslip. I see these people zoom by me constantly just doing regular linked turns and I just have no idea how to even practice that. I was on a green yesterday that got pretty shallow and slow and I had enough speed to go toe to heel to toe for a bit but I know if there was a steeper slope I'd just basically end up going down in a strait line and frantically trying to stop myself with a sideslip.

I think I'm going to troll youtube for some snowprofessor vids on this but was wondering if this is a common place for beginners to hit a wall and how to break through. Going up again tomorrow after a rest today and am hoping to finally be able to actually snowboard linking turns, but I'm not too confident that I'll be able to.

At this point terrain doesn't really scare me---I've been on blues and greens all over the tahoe resorts and just stay away from blacks. But I am sort of frustrated with my inability to link turns and don't really know how to work on it.

BTW Thanks to all you guys for the info and tips that I've lurked on as I've gotten hooked. I ended up getting a GNU Carbon Credit, Nike Kaiju Boots (sooo comfy), and union SL bindings for my first setup. I love snowboarding and being up on the mountain no matter how many times I fall getting off the lift! 27 right now and hope to do it for another 40+ years! Had some icy days, slushy days, and one awesome powder day at Sierra and another at Kirkwood--but you might be mad at me as one of those guys that "ruins" the powder :).

Think maybe I just need to lower my expectations and not expect to truly snowboard down in my first season.

KansasNoob 03-28-2013 01:57 PM

That happened to me too learning last year... Most of it is just getting yourself to commit to the turn. It feels like you're going down too fast but once you get used to it it's easy. Practice makes it easier. And I know when I went this season I felt way more comfortable than last year and had no issues skating off the lift and felt in control. And after I felt at home progression went wayyyy faster. I can't believe the stuff I'm riding now. I'm having a blast too, well worth all the hard falls in the beginning.

Casual 03-28-2013 01:58 PM

I suggest you invest in some lessons the next time you are out, you should be able to link turns by now. Everyone learns at a different rate but I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to link turns by this time for you.

Honestly you will get some much more out of your days on the hill with a little help from a good instructor. And why not set your expectations high? I told my gf everyone can link turns by the end of their first day, so when she was carving greens up by the end of the day she thought she was right on pace... until I told her she was way ahead of what most people after 5-10 days on a hill haha.

Seriously though, get a lesson and you will be linking turns in no time.

behi 03-28-2013 02:00 PM

For most beginners, a major problem is getting the weight forward. Weight on the front foot = fast turn initiation -> less speed picked up.

Even if you think your weight is centered, chances are, you are leaning back.

Mel M 03-28-2013 02:06 PM

Congrats on the new addiction! I started at 30 and hope to do it forever.

You'll get some good advice from guys here that have boarded for a really long time, but from a second year rider with 50+ days on the mountain I can share some experiences that helped me along the way.

First, stay out of the blues if you can't even do linked turns consistently. Many here will say speed helps, but only after you've got the fundamentals down. Greens will give you plenty enough speed to practice whatever you need to do. Going down terrain too steep for your ability level can actually hinder your progression. I've seen it too many times with friends I ride with.

Second. Really focus on your front foot. Do whatever you have to get that front foot engaged. I used to actually unstrap my rear binding and go down some really mellow terrain with just my front foot. Learning to engage the sidecut of the board, especially by initiating with the front foot, will work wonders for board control.

Third. Work on your balance. A lot of problems with beginner turning could be balance issues. This means keep your weight centered on the board. Oftentimes because a beginner isn't comfortable on the board, instructors will tell them to keep their weight forward. The beginner will actually think they are forward on the board, but in reality, they are more centered. Riding in the backseat will cause a lot of the problems you mentioned.

Finally, have fun! You'll have plenty of years left to learn. You have a three year head start on me. :)

nooboarder 03-30-2013 12:15 AM

And on the 8th day riding of the season, turns were linked!

They are not pretty but I was able to link turns today after considering the advice here and just telling myself I was going to figure it out by the end of the day.

The tip to not put weight on my back after turning really helped. I still catch myself doing this and it just leads to skidding out of a turn and side slipping. When I really focus on leaning forward, I can actually turn both toeside to heelside and heelside to toeside and come out of it riding down vs sideslipping.

I tried to "carve" on some shallower parts of blue and green runs and think I was able to sort of do it (assuming carving means going from one edge to another without fully turning). On steeper parts of blues, I have to basically traverse the whole run diagonally and then turn the other way---my linked turns are super ugly but I can see how to progress from here. Basically I think comfort with speed will be key, which can only happen with more practice.

I'm trying to make sure I don't develop bad habits, like the leaning thing. I'm basically initiating turns by switching my weight and then using the front foot to start the turn, and let the back foot follow but after a slight delay. I really like the feeling of my board sort of twisting as it's about to turn and think this is what it's supposed to do---please correct me if I'm wrong. Some random dude told me his "one tip" for snowboarding was steering with the back foot, which I thought was the wrong method and not what I do but I think he might have just been messing with me... or maybe not aware of proper technique.

Anyway hopefully there are at least a few more storms up in tahoe in the next few weeks so I can work on linking turns in a less extreme and exxagerated way and work on my comfort with speed. One nice thing about today was zero falls off the chair lift and overall much less falls. The snow got wet and mogully but I was still able to keep my shit together on both heel and toe in terms of balance, which was also a huge win.

Thanks again for all the feedback and I'm glad I was able to put it into action.

Rookie09 03-30-2013 12:45 AM

I don't know if any snowboard instructors here will correct me, but I feel like you should completely eliminate the falling leaf from your riding from now on. The only thing it will do now is make you want to stay on your toe/heel edge instead of switching between them (linked turns). The quicker you break the falling leaf habit, the quicker you'll be able to link turns.

Also I'm not sure if this tip will help you personally or not, but when I went with my friend for the first time he was linking turns a couple hours into his first day. It clicked for him when he thought of it as "heel side ---> straight down the hill for a split second ---> toe side ---> straight down the hill for a split second ---> heel side ---> etc." It caused the transition to make more sense for him instead of going directly from heel side to toe side. Smoothed it out a bit.

Rookie09 03-30-2013 12:52 AM


Originally Posted by nooboarder (Post 881890)
I tried to "carve" on some shallower parts of blue and green runs and think I was able to sort of do it (assuming carving means going from one edge to another without fully turning). On steeper parts of blues, I have to basically traverse the whole run diagonally and then turn the other way---my linked turns are super ugly but I can see how to progress from here. Basically I think comfort with speed will be key, which can only happen with more practice.

You definitely turn while you carve, the only difference being that while carving your edge is fully engaged in the snow and the back of your board isn't dragging/slipping/speed checking. The track you leave while be a thin line of your board edge instead of the wider, messier track of a skidded turn. You're able to go a lot faster while carving and you lean into your turn/carve a lot harder than for skidded turns.

While learning your linked turns I'd suggest learning on greens and shallower blues. It's a lot better to get the technique down right than to "be able to make it down harder hills without falling." If you're not able to link turns on a hill because of its steepness/difficulty, avoid that run if possible until you're more comfortable.

nooboarder 03-30-2013 10:38 AM

I agree --- will try to basically eliminate falling leaf. I usually ride a mix of greens and blues because I really hate limiting myself to the green parts of the mountain and really enjoy seeing the whole thing. I know this might hurt my progression in the short term, although I think hitting harder runs forces me to advance quicker too possibly.

I like how you're thinking about it heelside - strait down - toeside - strait down. This is basically what I know in my mind needs to happen, and it's not hard on shallower slopes, but I am just not confident enough at speed not to freak out during the "strait down" portion on steeps. But each day I'm sure it will become easier.

nooboarder 04-01-2013 11:49 AM

Thanks Snowolf! Love your advice on this forum. I have taken 3 lessons at the very beginning and they were quite helpful, so don't really want to take any more this season since I just want to keep practicing what I know I should be doing. Next season I'll probably take another lesson to see what bad habits I've picked up and try to help my technique. I've actually watched all your vids that you posted - more than once :). I really like your demonstration style and it's helped me a lot.

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