9 Tips for Intermediate SnowboardersPublished on 03/07/2023 · 8 min readSnowboard Expert Aniah Warne reaches out to intermediate snowboarders, offering tips on how to gain confidence and new skills.
Photo by Yann Allegre
During the intermediate stages of snowboarding, you are going to learn a lot of new skills and ride on new terrain. Learning new skills will allow you to gain confidence on your board and ride on more areas of the mountain. Here are some snowboarding tips for the intermediate snowboarder.
1. Learn How to Control Your Speed
For intermediate snowboarders (and something you may have even realized as a beginner), one of the most common problems can be going too fast and not being able to slow down. Learning how to control your speed on the mountain will not only give you confidence as a rider, but it will also allow you to take your riding to the next level.
Speed control can be developed pretty easily, simply by making sure to do skidded turns when you are first learning how to get comfortable with speed. Applying the skid in the turn will slow you down, while still allowing you to practice your turns.
You can use speed control to learn how to ride at higher speeds, to learn a new trick on freestyle features, and to learn how to maneuver through off-trail areas of the mountain as well as steeper terrain. Speed control will help in many different situations you may find yourself in overall, and is an essential skill in intermediate snowboarding.
2. Practice Riding Switch
Switch riding is a skill that you are going to need as you become better at riding and find yourself in new terrain where you will need to use a variety of different skills in order to navigate. It's important to practice both toe-edge and heel-edge turns while riding switch.
The easiest way to learn how to ride switch is to pretend you are learning all over again, but have the opposite foot you normally ride with in front. Switch your lead leg and practice riding down a gentle slope. Once you get comfortable with this, start going down the green slopes switch, simply doing S-turns the whole way down.
Once you have this down, it will be beneficial both off-trail and in the terrain park if you find yourself doing 180s or trying out any of the equipment. In the park, the best equipment for intermediate riders are boxes and small jumps.
3. Try Taking an Expert Lesson
Once you get to the intermediate level of riding, it’s a great idea to consider an expert lesson with a knowledgeable snowboard instructor at a resort. Oftentimes at the intermediate level, riders aren't sure where to go next or just need a little bit more instruction in some areas.
An expert lesson could help the intermediate rider in many different areas. One of the biggest areas intermediate riders usually need instruction in is learning how to carve and being introduced to off-trail riding.
Experts can really help the rider, as they are able to pinpoint the areas in which they need help and give them specific tips and tricks in order to be able to achieve their goals. If you are an intermediate rider, I definitely suggest taking a lesson from a professional instructor at your local mountain.
4. Learn How to Absorb Impact
When you get to the intermediate stage, you might find yourself learning how to hit jumps or some of the easier features in the terrain park. If you are in this position, it's really important to learn how to absorb impact after a jump to ensure stability and safety.
Absorbing the impact is essentially just squatting down after landing a jump, making sure your weight is center, and absorbing the impact in the bend of your legs. This will help in many types of snow conditions, especially in deep snow like powder, and riding off-piste terrain that isn't groomed. The improper jumping technique can lead to injury. Increasing leg strength will also help with absorbing impact.
When going to hit a feature, remember the acronym ATML. This stands for approach, take off, maneuver, and landing. This will help when preparing to go off any hit or when trying any park feature.
5. Learn How to Carve Your Turns
At the intermediate stage of riding, you are going to start to learn about the difference between skidded turns and carved turns. The biggest difference is that carving is going to make you go faster, while skidded turns are going to control your speed.
Carving is when you are riding fully on the edge of your board, using linked turns to create a fluid motion, giving you edge control and moving from heelside to toeside over and over again. You can tell you are carving by looking at the snowboarding track left in the snow. If you are carving, the track will be a thin line, as you are fully on an edge. A skidded-turn track will look wide. You'll want to keep your hips and shoulders lined up and make sure your carves are smooth, with your front foot controlling the direction of your turns and your back foot acting as a rudder.
Of course, carving is going to help you pick up speed, which is where speed control comes in. It's important to learn how to control your speed before you get into learning how to carve. As you practice and advance in snowboard carving, you will be able to do other turns, such as surfer turns.
6. Learn How to Ride Dynamically
Riding dynamically is similar to absorbing the impact of a jump, but all over the mountain. Riding dynamically means there is going to be a lot of movement in the knees, and you are going to absorb any bump you go over.
Riding dynamically doesn't just apply to bumps—you can apply dynamic riding to simple groomer turns as well. You can try doing this by bending your knees at the initiation of the turn and extending as you come out of it.
Another way to practice riding dynamically is to find some form of rollers and absorb each roller by flexing at the peaks and extending in the valleys. Riding dynamically will help as you explore new areas of the mountain and will help you ride more difficult terrain and avoid obstacles.
7. Customize Your Setup
When you get to the intermediate stage of riding, you might start getting your own gear or having a bit nicer snowboarding setup. As you get better, you are going to want equipment that is comfortable for you and you may even want to tweak your snowboard stance. Finding the right snowboard gear and customizing your setup will make going to the mountain more exciting.
With intermediate riding, a lot of finding the right board is about finding the right price. The best way to find a good price on an intermediate board is to get one that is brand new but from a couple of years ago. You may also want to consider the type of snowboard profiles that will best suit your riding ability and terrain preferences, like full rocker, hybrid camber (which includes both rocker and camber), or full camber.
For snowboard boots and bindings, it's important to make sure they are sized to work with each other and that they are both comfortable and durable. You'll also want to make sure you have protective gear like a helmet and wrist guards, decent goggles, warm (and waterproof) gloves or mittens, a warm (and again, waterproof) jacket and snowboard pants, socks, and base layers (wool recommended over cotton) that will keep you warm while also wicking excess sweat and moisture.
Having the right equipment in the right size, as well as equipment that you love, makes a huge difference on the mountain.
8. Understand That Skills Take Lots of Practice
As fun of a sport as it is, snowboarding still takes a lot of practice to master the new skills you are going to learn as an intermediate snowboarder, and really perfect those basic skills. No matter how often you are able to get to the mountain, it's important to make sure you are growing and improving every time you go to become a better snowboarder.
Most likely, you aren’t going to land every new skill you attempt perfectly on the first try. Snowboarding takes a lot of patience from riders learning new skills. For instance, if you're interested in freestyle riding, there are a wide variety of snowboard tricks out there, and starting with something like an ollie or nollie is a good way to build confidence and start building those skills in the park.
Skills take practice, and as you keep practicing you will see yourself getting better over time. The best thing you can do is be patient with yourself and allow failure in order for you to succeed in the learning process.
9. Make Sure to Have Fun!
Snowboarding doesn’t have to be super serious—the sport is meant to be fun! As you learn new skills, have fun with it, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things on the mountain!
Whether you are going with family and friends, or even just going on a few runs by yourself, snowboarding is fun and there's no denying it. The learning process is difficult, but having fun along the way is the best way to make it a good experience!
Snowboarding is a super fun sport that combines so many unique skills. As you progress, trying to implement these skills into your riding will significantly help you in the future. Learning how to carve, control your speed, absorb impact, and ride dynamically are all skills that advanced riders use every time they ride. Getting better and having fun on the mountain is what most intermediate riders look for, and with practice, every rider is able to improve.