You may have heard the perspective, “Snowboarding is harder to learn than skiing, but easier to master.” From a fellow snowboarder, I can vouch for that statement and encourage you to keep working at it because the return is so worth it! Many aspects of snowboarding can seem intimidating to newcomers, including loading and off-loading ski lifts. Have no fear! We’re here to give you some #protips on how to get on a ski lift with a snowboard.
How to Get On a Ski Lift with a Snowboard
There are a few different types of ski lifts that we will go over to ensure you’re prepared to handle anything that comes your way. A gondola is the most effortless ski lift to get on with a snowboard. A gondola is a closed cabin lift requiring riders to be completely detached from their snowboard/skis. To get onto a gondola with a snowboard, load your snowboard into the rack outside the cabin door and walk into the cabin. If you’re the only one riding in the gondola cabin, and space is not an issue, you may prefer to carry the snowboard with you into the gondola cabin. That’s it! You’ve now successfully gotten on a gondola with a snowboard.
The next type of ski lift that is common for beginners to use is called a magic carpet. A magic carpet is essentially a conveyor belt that you stand on as it moves you to the top of the hill. To get onto a magic carpet with a snowboard, unstrap your back foot from the binding. Your back foot should be your dominant, or controlling, foot. To help you “skate” to the ski lift and to aid in keeping your balance while riding up the lift, your back foot will need to be unstrapped. Once unstrapped, you can skate towards the bottom of the magic carpet. Skating is when you propel yourself forward on your board by moving the back foot in a front-to-back motion along the heelside edge of your snowboard. Once you have reached the point of loading onto the magic carpet with a snowboard, you should ensure that your board is entirely straight with the nose facing uphill and that both of your feet are on the board- the front foot will be secured in your binding in while the back foot will still be unstrapped and can be placed on your board, right beside the back binding. Next, allow the conveyor belt to grip your board, gradually moving your entire board onto the magic carpet. Abracadabra! You’re now on the ski lift with a snowboard. It may be beneficial for you to step back with your back foot, placing the foot directly on the conveyor belt as you ride up the hill to help maintain your balance. The main things to remember when getting on this type of ski lift with a snowboard are:
- Ensure your back foot is unstrapped.
- Remain standing for the duration of the lift ride.
- Keep your board with the nose pointing uphill.
The most common and advanced type of ski lift to load is a chair lift. Rather than heading directly for a regular speed chair lift, I encourage you to find a beginner chair lift at the bunny slopes. A beginner chair lift will move slower and allow you to practice and master correct technique before heading over to the more advanced chair lift. Similar to getting on a magic carpet with a snowboard, your back foot should also be unstrapped from your binding to get on a chair lift. Take the following steps to get on a ski lift with a snowboard:
- Unstrap your back foot from the snowboard binding.
- Use the skating technique to move yourself and your board towards the chair lift.
- Ensure that your board is completely straight, with the nose facing up the hill. Skate out in front of the oncoming chair- generally, there is a line or a sign that shows where you should load.
- Step over your board, planting your back foot in front of your board. This allows you to sit down more naturally than if your foot were behind your snowboard.
- As the chair gently hits the back of your knees, sit down. Slightly pick up your feet to raise your board, as this ensures the board doesn’t drag and get tangled with the ground.
- Pull down the bar to ensure safety, and enjoy the ride!
Getting on a ski lift with a snowboard can seem intimidating, but practicing on a magic carpet before moving to a chair lift is hugely beneficial. A pro tip for the learning process is to let the lift operator know that you’re learning! Often, the operators can slow the chair down for you, grab the chair to help you get onto it, or simply be more alert to stop the chair if you fall. Just like anything, it takes practice! You’ll be getting on a ski lift with a snowboard effortlessly in no time.
How to Get Off a Ski Lift with a Snowboard
Well, how has the ride been? You successfully got on a ski lift with a snowboard, likely got some great views throughout the ride, and now it’s time to get off the ski lift with a snowboard. Let’s look at the three different types of ski lifts again, beginning with the gondola. If you took the gondola up the mountain, getting off is as easy as getting on: just walk out of the cabin, and be sure to grab your snowboard along the way!
Getting off a magic carpet and a chair lift is very similar. The key to getting off a ski lift with a snowboard is to ensure your board is completely straight, with the nose facing forward while keeping your shoulders square and aligned with your board. It can be tempting to turn your shoulders to face forward, but doing this is the quickest way also to rotate your board. Aligning your shoulders, hips, and feet in the same direction is vital to controlling the direction of your snowboard because your board follows your body.
As you approach the off-loading point of the magic carpet, place your back foot on your board again, keep your board straight, and let the conveyor belt move you off and onto the snow. As a beginner, it is sometimes helpful to stretch your arms out straight to the sides, aligning with your board lengthwise. This helps keep your shoulders in the correct position. You’ll slide off gently, and your board will come to a stop, allowing you to skate out of the off-loading area.
Getting off a chair lift with a snowboard requires a little more skill but isn’t that different from a magic carpet:
- As you approach the off-loading area, raise the safety bar.
- Turn your leg so that your board is completely straight, facing up the hill.
- As the chair lift approaches the off-loading area, prepare to stand. Place your back foot on your board, and align your shoulders with your hips and feet.
- Gently push yourself with your backhand off the seat of the chair lift- this ensures that the chair lift doesn’t hit you in the leg and knock you down.
- Remember to keep your board straight and let it slide down the incline until it comes to a stop. You can now skate to exit the off-loading area.
Getting off a chair lift with a snowboard can seem intimidating, mainly because there is generally a small incline at the off-loading point. A natural reaction is to turn your shoulders forward or bail to slow yourself down. However, the key to successfully getting off a ski lift with a snowboard is keeping the nose straight (lifting those arms to align with your board if necessary) and keeping your back foot in place until you’ve slowed down or come to a stop. Remember to start with a beginner chair lift because it will move at a slower speed, allowing you more time to get in the correct position and focus on your technique.
Tips for Getting on and off a Ski Lift with Kids
- Begin with a magic carpet, as most magic carpets permit parents to ride on the conveyor belt with kids without being attached to a board or skis. Take note of any signs that may ask you to exit to the side of the carpet before reaching the end. Riding the carpet with them without your gear allows you to be stable and handy should they need help.
- Get a vest for them with a handle on the back. This is very common for children in ski school. The vest allows you and the lift operator to pick them up into the chair lift, should they be too short to load onto the lift fully.
- Take some time with your child to watch others get on and get off a ski lift with a snowboard. Kids pick up quickly, and this helps them understand the goal.
- Ask the lift operator to slow the lift down at the loading and unloading point. They can communicate to the operator at the top of the lift and tell that operator to slow the lift down as your chair is approaching.
- Allow the child to get on the ski lift on the side where the operator is standing. This allows the operator to help your child if they fall, etc.
Good luck on the slopes, and congratulations on trying something new! Remember to take it slow, point your snowboard straight, and keep your body aligned. With these tips and tricks, you’ll master how to get on and off a ski lift with a snowboard in no time!