We're kicking off a new video tutorial series here at Whitelines: Powder Basics with James Stentiford - the first Brit ever to compete on the Freeride World Tour. Over the next five weeks we'll be bringing you all the knowledge you'll need to get you started in the deep stuff, or even improve your techniques if you've already made some tracks.
When you start riding powder, it's inevitable that you'll be spending a lot of time on your arse. Bizarrely, standing up is one of the hardest and most energy sapping parts of shredding powder, so it's essential that you get this technique down as soon as possible.
Watch the video above, but we've also included some of the most important bits from the WL Basics below to help you out even more.
Standing Up in Powder
Watch a good rider gunning through powder and it all looks so effortless. And in truth, once you get the hang of it, it is. But like Luke tooling around Dagobah with Yoda on his back, the Pow Padawan must go through many frustrating trials before being issued with his or her Jedi-hooded tall-T. And of these, none is more challenging than the dark art of getting up in powder once you’ve fallen over.
"Few things can match the stoke-destroying frustration of floundering around in hip deep snow"
Laugh you might, smug experienced rider. But forgotten the difficulty you have. Because while it might be one of the simplest movements in snowboarding, few things can match the stoke-destroying, tiredness-inducing frustration of a few minutes floundering around in hip deep fresh snow. Especially as you watch your mates shoot off into the distance.
So how do you do it?
Firstly, don’t panic or get stressed. Keep calm and compose yourself. This really isn’t that difficult – but it does take a certain technique.
Check yourself. If it’s a bad slam, you may have lost hat, goggles and, temporarily, your senses. Usually though, it’ll be case of getting the snow out of your pants and getting your composure back.
This next bit is about maneuvering yourself so you’re facing in the right direction, with your board underneath you and pointing downhill. You may have to roll over onto your front or perform a kind of upside cartwheel. Whatever you need to do, get it done.
Now comes the tricky part – actually getting back to your feet again. The problem here is a devilishly simple one: powder is soft stuff. So whereas on the piste you can just push up against the hard pack, try that in powder and your arms will just sink in up to your pits. Try it a few times and you’ll be facing down a rising tide of panic and over-heating like a Wookie in a sauna.
"Try it a few times and you’ll be facing down a rising tide of panic and over-heating like a Wookie in a sauna"
Instead, you need to make sure you get up in one fluid motion. To be honest, different snow conditions and slopes call for different techniques, but there are some tried and tested methods. The easiest - but least practical - is undoubtedly putting your rucksack down and using that as a base from which to push off. The trickiest? Position your board so it’s facing downhill with the tail sticking in the snow. Then pull on the tail of the board to lever yourself up and away. Another favourite, especially if you’re sitting down on your heel edge, is to push your arms in, then pack down the holes with snow. Eventually, you’ll be able to get some purchase and push yourself up.
If this all sounds as tricky as bullseyeing a womp rat in T-16, fret not. It gets easier pretty quickly. Above all, getting up in powder takes fluidity of movement, momentum and determination. Good core muscles don’t hurt either. The next time you’re out in the snow, try each of these techniques in turn and see what works best for you. Good luck!