Most kids, or adults for that matter who start to snowboard usually find themselves gravitating towards the snowboard park at one time or another.
Even if you go into the park to just, “give it a try”, you’ll want to know some ins and outs before hitting that first jump or riding that first box or rail.
Below, we’ll be going over how to snowboard in the park. From basic safety tips, to etiquette, to some tricks you can try as you are venturing in for your first time.
First things first, know your limits
The snowboard park can be a pretty intimidating place to ride into. Chances are you will see very experienced riders throwing massive tricks on huge features all while making it look as simple as walking down the sidewalk. This may temp you to try to follow them on the same line they are taking. Trust me… I know… I’ve been tempted that way too.
Know your limits though.
If you have just started riding or it is your first time in the park, take it slow and easy. There are no medals for getting to ride down the mountain in a sled pulled by the Ski Patrol.
There is no shame in starting on a small jump to get that air awareness down or grinding down a very wide box to get your feet under you.
Secondly, know your size
Next is to know your size and where you fit on the mountain. You want to start where you are comfortable and work your way up from there.
Most if not all snowboard parks will have a sign at the top of them designating what size of features are in that park. And they make it pretty simple to understand what you are getting yourself into.
- S – Stands for small features.
- Don’t be a hero. If you are just starting, you should start in the small feature section. Don’t mind that you may be riding with some youngsters as they are learning right along with you.
- M – Stands for medium features.
- The jumps in this area will be bigger. Not huge yet, but bigger. Also, the rail features will be thinner and more difficult requiring more technical riding.
- L – Stands for large features.
- This will have the biggest jumps and most technical rail sections. Think, X games or Olympics. It can be fun to watch some riders hucking big air off of these jumps, but if you’re not ready to fly, stick to the smaller sections.
Another way these could be categorized is for the small to be for beginners, medium to be for advanced, and large for experts.
It hurts enough to just fall while trying to learn and make turns on a groomer so if you know that you are not at the more advanced levels, stick to the smaller features and move up when you feel comfortable and ready to do so.
Third, easy style it
Make sure you are familiar with the terrain park before you start throwing yourself around it. The signs are the top of the hill will also tell you about the best way to go about riding in the terrain park.
If need be, take a run through the park without hitting any of the features to familiarize yourself with the features you want to ride. Check out the landing areas of jumps and all the on and off points of the rails. That way, you will not have any sudden surprises as you are about to land a jump or exit off of a rail. (surprises are the worst in the park)
As I mentioned, start small and work your way up to bigger and better features as you get more comfortable with your riding.
For safety before hitting a jump, make sure the landing is clear from any other riders. You can do this by waiting a few seconds from when the last rider dropped in before you start your run. The best situation is also to wait until you see them ride away from the feature after completing it.
Proper etiquette would also suggest to not cut anyone off at the top of the hill when starting. You don’t want to be starting your run at the same time as another rider.
Even a quick eye contact and head nod to others showing you are about to drop in or letting them go first will help elevate any confusion as to who is going next.
If someone has hit a jump or rode a rail and has fallen in their attempt either skip that feature or wait until they are back up and gone. It doesn’t go well to plow ahead and hit the same feature all while trying to avoid the rider who is down. That can be a dangerous situation for sure.
Fourth, bring on the tricks
Now that you have learned some safety and etiquette on how to ride in the parks, let’s get to some fun parts. Trying out some basic, yet fun tricks while riding in the park.
- 180 jumps
- Start riding either in a regular stance or switch. Hit the jump and rotate either forwards towards your toe edge or backwards towards your heel edge and land with the opposite leg forward from your beginning riding position.
- 360 jumps
- Once you master the 180, work on the 360. This is the same as a 180, but instead of doing a half circle rotation, you will do a full rotation and land with the same foot forward as when you hit the jump.
- Straight air with a shifty
- Hit the jump straight on. Don’t spin your body like a 180 or 360, but instead just rotate your body so the board turns 90 degrees and then rotate back so the board hits the ground going straight again.
- Straight 50/50 board slide on a box
- Ride on to the box with a flat board going straight down the box.
- 50/50 board slide with a shifty turn
- Start riding down the box straight with your board flat on the box or rail, and then rotate your body so the board is at 90 degrees and then rotate back to straight.
Get out and try these basic tricks and once you master them, you can move on to more complex tricks and more advanced features. These tricks and moves will open up a whole new world to you and your snowboarding!
One of the best feelings I have found in my snowboard riding is hitting a trick or feature in the park and stomping the landing and riding away. It is such a feeling of accomplishment and so satisfying!
So next time you are on the hill and keep passing that terrain park wondering if you should go in, I say “Do it!” Give it a try. Start small and then move up once you are comfortable. It really does open up a whole new world to you and your riding. There are no shortage of tricks you can learn, try, and perfect in the park. So get in there and give it a go!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments below. I always get back to anyone who reaches out! Until then, I’ll see you out on the mountain!
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