An interesting dilemma that all snowboarders’ face is the controlling of speed. This problem plaques us from the time that we are learning to snowboard to the time that we are carving turns to swerve through trees and rocks on extreme runs.
There are many reasons why we may wish to control speed and just as many ways to do so too. The first place to start if you are new to snowboarding is by taking a lesson from an instructor. Your instructor will be able to not only teach you the correct procedure for the situation but will also be able to demonstrate it and make sure you know what you are doing.
The edge of your snowboard is often the key to your stopping ability. The edge will dig into the snow and slow your rate of decent in most cases. Learning to use your edge this way is fairly easy once you have mastered balancing your snowboard.
Start on a slight slope and glide down the hill with your snowboard flat. As you move down the hill begin to push your toes down. This action will force the toe side edge of your snowboard into the snow and slow you down until you stop. The more force you use the faster you will slow down. The inverse of this is heel side braking. Again move down the slope but this time raise your toes up in to the air. This will force your heels in to the snow and again bring you to a stop.
The next methods of stopping all involve other elements of snowboarding such as turning and carving. The principal for these and other methods is all the same. Either you are slowing yourself down by using the edge of your snowboard or you are changing the direction you are travelling in so that you are going uphill or slightly uphill.
A very common way is to snow plow. To snow plow you again begin by sliding down the hill. When you are ready to stop or slow down, spin your snowboard so that you are skidding down the hill sideways with your toes pointing downhill. Now slowly begin to raise your toes up in to the air thus bringing the entire effective edge of your snowboard in to contact with snow. You must be certain to have the snowboard and your body weight evenly distributed or you may end up shooting across the slope instead of slowing down.
The final method of stopping that will be mentioned here is a gravity stop. A gravity stop can be done many ways but the key element is always the same, you turn so that your new direction is uphill. A perfect example of this is the J-turn, which will bring you to a stop very quickly. Another subtler method of stopping is to slightly alter your direction after turning. Instead of heading across and down the slope, change the angle of your path so that you are heading slightly uphill. This action should become second nature to you, as you will find that your speed actually increases after performing maneuvers such as a carved turn.
Stopping and speed control is a vital skill to learn and as you can see there are many ways of doing so depending upon how quickly you need to stop or reduce your speed. Make sure you learn what the best technique is for your circumstances and practice it a lot. Nothing will ruin your day more than loosing control and slamming in to an obstacle.