Winter Sports

How to Jump From Skiing to Snowboarding

You’ve been downhill skiing since you were barely old enough to lift a ski pole, so stepping into your skis and heading down the slopes is about as natural as it gets.

But in your time skiing, you’ve undoubtedly seen snowboarders skimming by, effortlessly carving past you, maybe catching a little air here and there, just having fun. Ever think to yourself, “I want to try that?”

You should.

“Variety is the spice of life,” says Jennifer Lockwood, a personal trainer at Peak Fitness NW and a ski instructor at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort.

“Knowing how to do two sports on the mountain opens up endless opportunities, terrain, challenges and fun.”

That said, snowboarding is not skiing. And while you use some of the same core muscles and movements, you use them in different ways. So step out of the planks and into a board — but only after you check out this advice from the pros.

Take a lesson

Stevens Pass
Nothing beats professional instruction to get you started off on the right foot. Lockwood, a longtime skier, first tried snowboarding by switching gear with a friend at the top of the mountain. The ride down was the longest of her life.

“We like to say in our ski school, friends don’t teach friends,” she says.

Take the lead

According to Lockwood, it’s important to figure out which leg will be your lead leg on a snowboard. To do this, think about which leg is forward when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a golf club. That’s your lead leg.

Forget moving forward

Ski Hill
Skiers have always been focused on moving forward; for snowboarders, it’s all about moving sideways. Focusing on this new direction and movement is tough but will help smooth the transition.

“Your instincts and muscle memory are now your worst enemy,” says Sean Bascom, an instructor at Meadows. “It takes extra concentration to use movements effectively while sliding sideways.”

Get in shape

If you’re a regular skier, then the key muscle groups you need for snowboarding are already tuned up. If not, or if you just need to crank up your fitness levels for the slopes a bit, check out these snow-sport-specific exercises.

Mind your mindset

Learning to snowboard after years of skiing can be challenging, and it can be easy to become discouraged. Don’t, says Rachel Lynn, another instructor at Meadows.

“Be kind to yourself,” she says. “Know your limitations and laugh when you fall. You’re an athlete and it will start to be easier after the first few times.”