I bet you never thought you would have to learn how to sit in a chair again. Of course sitting in a chair is a simple skill that we all learnt as babies but it is something that we have to learn all over again once we start snowboarding. The reason for having to relearn how to sit is because you will be standing on a moving snowboard that is all too happy to slide out from under your feet while trying to rest your bottom on a moving chair. While this does take a little practice to master it is fairly easy to do once you get the hang of it.
Learning proper technique is the most important key to mastering chair lifts or any other type of lift. Proper technique starts with how you approach the lift. As is standard with most lift approaches, you will want to use a one-footed stance. Glide towards the lift with your rear foot free of the bindings and resting on your skid pad. While in this ‘Superman’ like position, you can move around much like you would when riding a skateboard. It is a good idea to practice this riding style on flat and slightly sloped ground before trying to mount the lift.
The next step is learning the timing of the motion required to mount the chair lift. It is best to time your motion based upon the rider in front of you, not where the chair lift is. Watch as the lift catches the rider in front of you and then follow behind them to catch the next chair. The point of following the person in front of you is to gain a suitable amount of momentum based upon the speed of the lifts. When preparing to get on to the chair lift stand with your snowboarding pointing straight up the lift line and look over your shoulder to see where the next chair is. As the chair gets closer to you, begin to move forward up the lift line, reach out with your hand to grab the chair lift just before you sit down.
In order to accommodate riders of all sizes, chair lifts are generally a little lower to the ground than a normal chair. Since the lift is lower to the ground it is easy to catch your leg between the chair and the snow and fall out of the chair. You can avoid this by keeping your free foot up and out in front of you. Of course you must also make sure that your snowboard is pointing straightforward too or you may end up hitting your chair partner with it.
Once you’ve mounted the chair lift you are free to relax and enjoy the ride and view until you hit the top of the lift. Do not wait until the last moment to get ready for dismounting from the chair lift. As you approach the top of the lift twist your body in such a way that you are ready to drop off the edge of the chair and on to your front foot at a moment’s notice.
Just before you are ready to dismount the lift, prepare to glide free of the lift by point your snowboard forward and place your rear foot on the stomp pad. As you reach the top of the lift run let your snowboard glide across the top of the snow. When you are in the disembarking zone begin to stand up and place your weight on your forward foot as the chair pushes you off the lift. Make sure you glide clear of the lift before you stopping for any reason. Nothing causes a headache faster than a chair lift to the back of the head.
The chair lift can be a little intimidating but if you practice you will find that it gets easy and even becomes natural over time. Follow these tips and practice gliding on a snowboard with only your front foot strapped in and your worries will glide away smoothly.