Looking for a new adventure? Thinking about trying snowboarding this season? We’ve got you covered. Telluride snowboard instructor Howard Denton has five great pro tips to get you started and ensure your success on the slopes. Denton has been teaching snowboarding in Telluride for the last 15 years, and before that, for a year in California and three years in France, and he’s happy to share some of his trade secrets to get you going in the right direction.
1. Equipment is Everything
Denton says to focus first on getting your boots to fit—no tucking in your pants or your long johns, just boots and socks, and make sure they’re snug by lacing them up tightly. “Tight and firm is really important,” says Denton, “you don’t want any heel lift, because you will lose balance on your toe-side edge.” Denton also recommends a little forward lean in the binding to promote ankle flex. And the bindings should be set on the board without too much of an angle; as a rule of thumb, the angles shouldn’t exceed 30 degrees, and Denton rides with a 12-degree angle.
2. Eyes On The Prize
Denton says that one of the most common problems with new riders is that they tend to look down, instead of up at the terrain. “Looking down has a negative effect on your stance,” he warns. You want your head upright on the spine. And as far as your stance, you should be riding the board flat, hips over knees. When riding the heel edge, get your upper body back by using the hip socket, but still sit up straight, like you’re sitting in a chair.
3. Safety First
It’s really, really important to look before you turn, says Denton. “It’s kind of like checking your rearview mirror in a car.” You always need to pivot your head (and not your upper body) to look for your turn. On your toe-side edge, your body and chest is faced uphill, so look at the traffic and ride defensively. On your heel-side edge, you’re making a turn to your blind side, so be sure to look over your shoulder and pay attention.
4. The Hula-Hoop Trick
Especially if you’re a skier and used to skiing with poles, you might be wondering what in the world you’re supposed to do with your hands while snowboarding. It’s super important not to swing your arms around to turn your board—your hands and arms should anticipate but NOT initiate the turn, says Denton. He tells students to visualize that they’re holding a hula-hoop, that way your hands are not up too high or too low, but about waist-high. Your front hand moves in one direction, and your back hand moves in the opposite direction.
5. Pro Tip for Powder
Speed is your friend in the powder, says Denton. The snow will have more resistance, so you’ll need to carry some speed into it. The best way to do this is by making Superman “S” turns, not closing them out completely. He also says not to balance on your edges, just move your weight over to each side and engage the board.
Got all that? Are you ready to tackle the slopes? Great! It’s all downhill from here. And if you want some more pointers, make sure to take a lesson from the pros at Telluride Ski Resort.