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Snowboarding tips you didn’t realize you needed: How to ride on ice

Not every day is a powder day so spend time learning to snowboard on ice

OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve become a powder snob. I realized this the other week when I was questioning whether to get on the bus to the hill. It hadn’t snowed, so why bother? Well, the reason to bother was twofold. First, I was there on holiday to snowboard, and the alternative was to sit in our budget accommodation that closely resembled a shed. Second — and more importantly — it wasn’t exactly bad conditions. OK, so there were some patches of ice, but so what?

Well, if you’ve ever snowboarded on ice, you know exactly how that feels. It’s hard snowboarding on ice. It’s even harder falling on ice. But icy patches and icy days are unavoidable if you want to maximize your resort days every winter. What’s more, they’re good for you. Not every day is lined with freshies — if only, eh? — and knowing how to snowboard in mixed conditions is an important part of progressing as a snowboarder. But just how do you snowboard on ice? Here are some snowboarding tips for those conditions — for veterans and even snowboarding for beginners.

Snowboarders walking

How to snowboard on ice

My number one snowboarding tip for any conditions still applies when you’re snowboarding on ice. Look up.

If you’re looking at the nose of your board, you don’t know what’s happening around you. If you look up, you can spot patches of ice in advance — they’re the barren-looking bits, often shiny looking, and if you’re in a busy resort, you can hear people trying to turn on them.

Once you know where the icy patches are, you can deploy one of two tactics.

Ride it out flat

The first option is to ride it out flat. I’ll caveat this with the advice that this is only a good idea if you’re on a mellow run and know you can control your speed farther down the line. For example, if the middle of a groomer has been ridden out to the ice, but there is slough at the edges, I will often ride out flat until I hit that softer snow and then use that to make my turn. Remember to be aware of other riders around you doing the same.

Are you more of a visual learner? Check out this video for guidance.

Should You Snowboard Flat based | No Edges

Embrace the slide

The second is to embrace the slide because unless you’re unusually committed and have razor-sharp edges, you’re not likely to be hitting clean carves on an icy groomer. This doesn’t mean backing out, and you should still drive through your heels — or toes — as you turn. But be ready to turn a little as you did as a beginner snowboarder, with longer sliding turns that you use to control your speed. It’s OK to spend a little more time side-slipping in icy conditions. Keep your weight over the snowboard rather than trying to get laid out for a carve, and transition your edge just before or as you hit the fall line of the slope.

These two tactics have seen me through plenty — and I mean plenty — of icy days on the mountain. But in order to use them properly, you have to stay in control. Icy groomers aren’t the place to get sendy or ride at Mach 10 speeds, especially if there are other riders around you. One slip can send you a long way downhill, so stay in control and use the day to practice other parts of your snowboarding, mix up your turn radius, try riding switch on a gentle slope, or hit the terrain park if you want to get some air or cruise around a new ski resort — oh yeah, and don’t forget your butt protectors on icy days.

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Tom Kilpatrick
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