Our experience. Snow condition on the piste

The main cause of the problems connected with the change in condition of the slope is the loss of contact with the snow.
So you need to modify your technique of turns depending on certain situation.

Ice slopes

The ice is solid, and therefore the contact surface should be maximum. Here by the way lies one of the greatest myths of snowboarding. It is believed that longitudinally rigid boards ride the ice better than soft ones, but this is not always true. Soft boards flex under the load and fit snugly to the snow with the entire surface of the edge with more or less equal distribution of weight on every inch. At the same time longitudinally rigid boards create redundant pressure on the nose and tail which may result in skidding. Overloaded parts of the edge cut off a thin layer of the ice and lose the contact with the snow.

Well, okay, if you do decide to go riding on such a day, then for carving on ice you should pay special attention to the following things:

  1. Precise weight distribution 50:50 for even distribution of weight along the maximum length of the contact surface;

  2. Clear edging of the board with angles from 45 to 75 degrees :) of course visually;

  3. Do not use aggressive inclinations;

  4. Maximum smoothness and efficiency of movements;

  5. Use mainly down unweighting and, if possible, close the turns up to the Pressure Point - red zone of the carve.

Hard slope

We mean groomed slope that got frozen during the night and became very solid. There are no particular features in riding such kind of slope because all the articles at our site are about riding such slopes.

To sum up:

  1. Keep your legs securely and stiffly enough;

  2. Smooth and quick movements;

  3. If the gradient of the slope is big then you need to end your turns in position perpendicular to the slope in order to control your speed.

Uneven slope with knolls


Here you have difficulties due to the fact that knolls aren’t uniform. Some of them got already frozen and some are just formed. Riding your carve across such kind of springboard will result in losing the contact. That’s why on such slope you need to:

  1. Learn to determine quickly approximate condition of the snow in the place you want to ride your carve. This is not very difficult after a couple of unsuccessful runs;

  2. Take more aggressive position, ‘cover yourself’ with your body and bend your back a little bit;

  3. All your movements should be quick and confident at maximum. You should prepare yourself quickly to the fact that today you will have quick and aggressive riding, half-and-half with drifting and hands waving but probably you will get the most fun this week. As a rule pistes are marked black not only because of their gradient but also because of ‘additional surprises’ that are waiting for the rider. There are even special areas of the slope which are groomed in a crooked way so that you would have more fun :)

  4. Load quickly the nose of your board when riding the knolls that you can cut;

  5. Amortize quickly with your knees the knolls that are better to cross;

  6. Make vertical motion ‘recurrent’.

A little bit more about the last point.
Let’s say when making turn doing down unweighting you straighten your legs. In the centre of the carve you run across a knoll and in the moment of crossing it your knees bend again in order to reduce the load of the edge and to ‘lick’ roughness of the slope. After passing through the top point of the knoll you immediately continue straighten your legs till the end of the carve. Partly smooth unbending of your knees during the whole turn is due to such situations. 

Given that the time when you are in turn doesn’t usually exceed 2-3 seconds this recurrent movement isn’t that simple.

Soft snow or slush

Slope with such snow is always slow; snowboard goes deeply into the thickness of snow and the surface of friction increases. Besides because of this on soft snow soft snowboards flex more and decrease their turn radius and as a result their sliding along the fall line also decreases. It means slowdown.

Here are the moments that you should pay attention to:

  1. Shift your weight slightly to the tail of your board.
    By doing so you unweight the nose and it will not go too deep into the snow;

  2. Be very attentive to the angles of board edging because angles over 50-60° will make the board go too deep into the snow;

  3. Control the radius of your board turn and be attentive that your carve can suddenly shorten;

  4. When there is a plus temperature and slush among other things you should not choose deep inclinations because such slush keeps the board too poorly even when your board cuts a trench of half-width of your board. Pieces of slush fall from the slope and it can lead to the fall of the carver.

Concluding remarks

It happens that in one day you'll come across different snow conditions. That’s why you need to learn various techniques and methods in order to feel secure. Different types of vertical motion, up- and down-unweighting, laid-down turns – all these tricks you should apply in your technique of snowboarding and use them depending on the snow conditions on the slope. In order to adjust your technique from one to another depending on the snow use hot mulled wine in the cafe :)