Skiers are regarded as being much faster than snowboarders. This is true, as they have more control, and physics allows them to go much faster than snowboarders. But, when you look around people on the slopes, you’ll often see snowboarders speeding past everyone. So why do snowboarders go so fast?
Snowboarders go so fast because it’s fun. Letting your snowboard run is exhilarating and carving hard and fast is hugely satisfying. But snowboarders also ride fast, so they don’t lose momentum on flat sections. If they can’t go fast enough, they have less control or have to unstrap and walk.
Fast snowboarders are not trying to be rebellious or anti-social. There are some valid reasons you see snowboarders charging as fast as they can. I’ll give you an insight into why we like to speed around like lunatics.
You may have heard the term “speed is your friend.” This statement is true in many situations when you’re snowboarding, but you have to pick and choose when speed is appropriate or acceptable.
When you’re riding at a slow speed on a flat green run, you have less control than if you were riding fast.
Unfortunately, this is one of the times when you need lots of control so you can react to the hordes of kids and ski schools picking their way down the slope.
Riding with more speed allows you to make fast turns to avoid people and objects. This is because the extra momentum you have means you can quickly change edges.
When a skier gets to a flat section, the reduced friction of their skis, compared to a snowboard, means they can often keep going without stopping.
But, if they do come to a halt, they can use their poles to push themselves along until they get to a steep enough gradient to start sliding again.
A snowboarder doesn’t have the option of using poles to keep them going along flat sections. So, as they approach a flat area, they will straight line as early as they dare to get as much speed as possible.
They hope to have enough momentum to carry them over the flat section to have a seamless run.
If a snowboarder doesn’t have enough speed, they need to find another way to get to a downhill gradient.
You’ll often see snowboarders shuffling along flat sections or flopping around like a beached sea lion to keep moving.
More advanced riders will use the flex in their board’s tip and tail to walk across or request the help of a skier.
However, if none of these methods works, they need to unstrap their back foot to scoot along or unstrap both feet to walk.
This can be pretty annoying, especially if you have to stop because someone cut in front of you.
The “speed is your friend phrase” is appropriate for riding powder. The faster you go, the more float you have, keeping your snowboard’s nose out of the snow and making your turns much more effortless.
Also, deep powder has more friction, which becomes a problem when the terrain starts to level out. You’ll have to walk if you don’t have enough speed to get off a powder run.
Every step can mean you are up to your hip in the snow. Battling through deep powder like this is exhausting, and it will make you hot and sweaty, making you uncomfortable quickly.
So, riding fast is the best thing to do. Riding fast in powder is lots of fun, but it will take some practice before you can do it competently, especially as the conditions constantly change.
When you start hitting jumps, you will approach them tentatively. Doing this is understandable and totally fine.
But it only works on small jumps; when you start hitting bigger jumps, you need the speed to clear the knuckle.
The knuckle is the top of the landing area. If you land on it, your knees and face can become closely acquainted. Speed also gives you enough airtime to perform tricks.
When you start to spin, you need more time to complete the rotation, so you’ll need to ride the transition faster to get enough height for your 180s and more for 360s.
Snowboarding is an adrenaline-fueled sport that comes with various risks. Speed is dangerous, which is one of the things that makes snowboarding exciting.
Therefore, the faster you go, the more fun you have, as long as you’re in complete control. It’s not just straight-line speed that gets the blood pumping, though.
One of my favorite things is getting low while pulling a high-speed toe-side carve, immediately followed by one on my heel side. It gives you enormous satisfaction, especially when you get it perfect.
One of my pet hates on the mountain is people going fast at inappropriate times and places. There’s no need to charge at 100% all the time, as it can be downright dangerous for you and others.
So here are my tips for when you should be taking it easy.
It can be tempting to speed through the crowds to find some open space. But going too fast when there are many people around is irresponsible.
Other slope users can be unpredictable, which can cause an accident if you can’t react quickly enough.
It’s best to have enough speed to maintain control and momentum and pick your way through the crowds. It’s best to stay on one side of the slope so you don’t have people coming at you from all angles.
There’s no need to charge as fast as you can into the lift line. You’re not going to get back to the top any quicker, and it’s super dangerous. Plus, you look like an idiot.
There may be a patch of ice, or someone may cross in front of you. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll plow into someone.
Some ski resorts have areas where the slopes cross, or you have to ride across the path of a drag lift/ T-bar. As you approach these sections, you should reduce your speed to time your crossing correctly.
It doesn’t take much effort or slow you down, but you can avoid a potentially severe collision.
Most accidents and injuries happen when you’re tired. Therefore, you need to know when to call it a day and head back down the mountain. But as you ride home, dial your speed back a bit.
It will take longer to get off the hill, but the odds of you getting back without trouble are much better. It’s much better to cruise home and be fine for another day of riding than to end up in the hospital.
You don’t have to be a hero every day. Some days it’s best to take your time and leave your ego at home. The slopes aren’t always in the best condition, and the weather can be horrendous.
These are the times when speed isn’t your friend. Snowboarding on ice isn’t always fun and dramatically reduces your stopping distance.
Also, charging hard when the snow is choppy can be dangerous, as you can quickly lose control. So when the conditions are less than favorable, concentrate on technique rather than speed.
There are many reasons why snowboarders go so fast. But to be honest, it’s mainly down to the fun factor. We aren’t trying to annoy anyone; it’s just sometimes we can’t help ourselves.
While it is a lot of fun, there are times when going fast isn’t safe, and this should be respected, so everyone gets home safe at the end of the day.