Riding in a half pipe is extremely different than snowboarding on a regular slope. Not only are the techniques for the same tricks different, but the actions often have different names or meanings and traversing is a good example of this. When snowboarding on a regular slope traversing is the action of crossing the face of the slope. When in a half pipe traversing is the action of crossing the flat section on the bottom of the ramp.
Traversing a half pipe is very easy and straightforward. You simply ride across it like you would any other flat surface. While the action is simple the purpose of the flat on a half pipe, and thus your options while crossing, vary. The flat on a half pipe can be used for several things including correcting stances after landing a trick, gaining or reducing speed, exiting the ramp or setting up for a trick about to be performed.
The first thing to learn is to correct your stance while traversing. Many times you will find that your stances was a little off or you didn’t land perfectly straight. The key to correcting this is to use the flat of the ramp. As you leave the transition crouch down a little to lower your center of gravity and thus regain some stability. Also make sure you are evenly weighted on your feet. Due to the forces acting on you while riding the transitions it is very easy to become sued to forward or reverse weighting your snowboard without knowing it. As you undoubtedly know from regular snowboarding, if your weight is not evenly distributed on your snowboard it is very easy to have an edge unexpectedly bite in causing you to fall.
The act of re-balancing yourself can also be used to help you gain more speed. To gain more speed you must begin by crouching as low as you can while traversing. In order to gain more speed you need to release energy when you start to ascend the transition. This is done by raising up as quickly as possible at the bottom of the transition. If you repeat this process each time you encounter a transition it is known as pumping the ramp and will result in you getting some major air.
The flat on the half pipe is also and excellent place to exit the half pipe. There are many ways to do this and the option you select will depend upon the size of the ramp, your speed and skill. Generally the most common way to exit the ramp is to walk off after you bail when doing a trick but if you have not bailed then you will need to reduce your speed. Perhaps the most elegant way to exit is with the use of a J-turn. Slow your speed down as much as possible perhaps by doing a Fakie or Wheelie while traversing. Then pull a J-Turn while ascending the other transition without biting too hard into the surface of the ramp and aim your snowboard for the side of the flat.
Riding a half pipe is unlike anything else you will have ridden before. While you will use many of the same skills you have already learnt, the purpose of them may be very different. Traversing is no longer just for crossing over to the other side of the slope.