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Old 12-20-2005   #1
Self-Aggrandizing jackass
heliodorus04's Avatar
The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
Snowboarding & Injuries

Alright folks, as usual, you mountainbuzz hippies have enriched my life.
I've been snowboarding four times now (and had 2 prescriptions for vicodin afterward!) and I've gotten my linked turns down.

Last time out, I went to Keystone for the first time (LOVED it! Definitely going back). I got on Schoolmarm, which is 3.5 miles long, and ran it 4 times in the day. I did "okay"

I've reached the point where I'm going to have to push my comfort zone a little, which means going faster. Speed, and the risk of injury at speed, is what I find frightening (you can call me a sissy, just don't call me a gaper). But I gotta go a little faster - I ended up stalled on some flat spots of Schoolmarm several times - sucked!

I want to ask if there are any ways to practice injury protection during falls. Now, I wear kneepads and wrist guards and a helmet, and I'm really happy with that set up.

One of the things I learned (I think) when I fall forward onto my front/knees is to lift my legs so the board isn't scraping the snow - keeps it from getting caught up and wrenching my legs.

Is there anything else I can practice?

My bad habit right now is still leaning my torso up-mountain instead of down, so that my weight is on my rear leg (I'm goofy foot) and it's not as easy to twist the board as I need to switch edges.

I figure I'm going to head back to keystone alone next time and just try schoolmarm over and over till I get more comfortable. That was my first time off of the "bunny" slopes...

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Old 12-20-2005   #2
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,910
While Schoolmarm's a good beginner run, you may want to consider another one that doesn't have the flat spots. A friend recommends a hockey girdle for beginner snowboarders in addition to the kneepads and wrist guards.

As for your torso turning uphill, that's a serious no no. To help combat this, imagine that you're holding a machine gun and pointing it in the direction you want to go. Your leading arm's elbow will be at your side with the forearm pointing directly ahead, and your trailing arm will be across your body as if its in a sling, both forearms parallel to the ground. Then take that forward hand and point it in the direction you want to turn - this will help you transition your weight so that you're on the proper edge. You'll point slightly behind you when you need to do a heel side turn and your weight will shift to your heels, and so forth.

Don't stop taking lessons either.

Good luck and remember to have fun!


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 12-20-2005   #3
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 112
A hockey girdle will impede your movement. If you really want to be safe try shoulder pads, shin pads, and maybe some elbow pads. This is if you don't mind looking like a special needs kid. Bumps and bruises are part of the sport. No matter how much equipment you have on you are still going to get some scratches. It will give you and your buddies something to talk about in the lodge. At this point I wouldn't worry too much about equipment youÂ’re not going to be doing anything major. I wouldn't be doing anything major, anyway. The most common injury to snowboarders is broken collar bones and arms. That's because they are taking jumps they can't handle. The wrist guards are a good idea though.
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Old 12-20-2005   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Snowboarding and skateboarding have some similarities in that learning to take a fall, and to avoid falls is key. Many beginner wipeouts are due to catching the downhill edge, and wipeouts are swift and painful. When you catch your heel edge, you flip backwards and hit your tailbone really hard (as you already know!). I have a pair of "ass-buster" pants that are like football pants with spots for pads (got it at a snowboaring shop). The key pad is the tailbone pad for beginners. It will literally save your ass. All of the other pads (hips etc) are bulky and inhibit movement In my mind helmets are key protection too. Beginner wipeouts on flat slow icy spots can produce concussions. Best to always wear a helmet, just like kayaking. Good job for getting a helmet off the bat, and don't think about not wearing it when you get better or you are having a chill day. About taking falls, many people break wrists and arms because they put their hands out instinctively when they fall. Even with wrist gaurds on, you can save your wrist and break your arm. Learning to keep your arms in and land on your side and take the hit on the torso vs. all on the arms is also important.

As far as going faster, a few thoughts. Green runs with flat spots are some of the worst to snowboard on. Slowspeed wipeouts on icy greens hurt more to me that wipeouts on blues or blacks because you slam straight into flat ground. Ouch. A good green run, as Andy said, is one without flat spots with a consistent downhill grade. Also, if you go too slow, control is very hard, if you go too fast, control gets sketchy too. For progression its probably best to find that medium speed for yourself where you feel comfortable and in control, yet you feel like you carry a good amount of speed. In this realm, practice turns, stopping, etc over and over again. Just as in kayaking, spending time working hard on the easier run before jumping off in harder runs is a good idea. If you can, wait for a decent powder day to start venturing into harder stuff. The wipeouts are less painful on powder days.

Have fun!
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Old 12-26-2005   #5
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 67
If you know you're going for a fall, be very conscious of what the moment is about, tuck your arms into your chest and "go with" the fall. Whatever you do, NEVER catch your fall using your wrists and arms. That's how shoulders get screwed, thumbs and wrists get broken. Also, stay away from the bullet-proof fake groomed early morning runs when learning to snowboard.
Go where there's at least 4 to 6+ inches of fresh to learn your turns. I'm a self-taught snowboarder. I go by the "1...2...3" method in getting the turn down. Learning to stop is the hardest, and many boarders have somewhat of a "blind spot" on the hill (unlike skiers), and we cannot get out of the way as easily as skiers do (which is why some skiers hate us one-plankers out there). That "blind spot" will become less of an issue once you get real good and comforable at what you're doing.
I found that slowing down and stopping on a board is similar to doing it on skis, if you're an ex-skier like me.
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Old 12-26-2005   #6
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Lakewood, Colorasta
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 843
When I fall I always tuck and roll. This works great on a snowboard because usually you can ride out of it with ease. It hurts on hardpack to fall so I usually don't go unless we got > 6 inches. If you don't have a helmut you should get one, this will keep you from serious head injuries when you do catch an edge.
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Old 12-27-2005   #7
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
Thanks for the updates.
To let you know how my season is going, I made a "breakthrough" on Christmas day at Breckenridge. I warmed up on an easy green, which is something I've realized does wonders - getting the soles of my feet and calves loosened.

My friend, a 3- or 4-season boarder, noted that a little more bend in my knee would help my heel-to-toe turn, and she was right. As that improved, my toe-to-heel, which I thought was strong, got weaker, because, as she noted, I'm using too much shoulder to make it happen. But by the end of the day I was getting it right again. Muscle memory and sports is starting to make sense to me.

Anyhow, about the falls: Whoever said flat-spot falls are worse was darn right. I got into my first blues this time - I think at Breckenridge we stuck to Bonanza and a few deviant paths that took us through loosely treed areas, which was a LOT of fun - gave me ways to practice turning for precision paths.

I fell on one of the steeper parts of the blues and slid 20 or 30 feet, but it was nothing. I was on my knee pads and coasting. All my falls this time were places where I was pushing my speed a bit, and lost my uphill edge so that my feet went out from under me. None of the "over-the-top" splatage that hurt me so bad the first few times out.

By the way, I ALWAYS wear a helmet. I'm the kind of accident-prone guy that makes counties spend money on signs that say "open manhole cover" on the crosswalk.

I compared my Christmas day snowboarding "breakthrough" to kayaking. It was like that day I showed up at a river and my heart no longer started racing at the sound of the water. I could look down the hill and know "I can do this".

I'll be out again Friday, not sure which place. I'm tempted to go back to Keystone and do Schoolmarm because I'd really like to learn how to handle MORE speed to get by those long flat spots. But that's being a small dilemma.

As always, thanks for taking the time to help me make these activities more fun. Considering I'm the type of guy a lot of you would have punched in high school because you knew you could get away with it, I'm surprised how welcoming you are to me now. Maybe it's the 'concealed carry' permit that makes you all so gregarious now...

See you on the slopes.

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Old 11-06-2009   #8
Vail, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1066
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 165
Take a lesson with a good pro. Go on a quiet day and you will have a small class and an A-list instructor because they get the work first.
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Old 11-07-2009   #9
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I'm betting Helio is snow boarding just fine right now. four years practice since then you would hope he got it.
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Old 11-09-2009   #10
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
damnit helio. you need an instructional guide on how to eat shit. damn shouldve posted it in the eddy and generated a response from Rush junior and them damn health care palnazi's! let me tell you something.SON. grow sack take your falls and and grin them teeth and hit the hill. hit more speed next time and the time after that. no good coming from asking bunch buzards about snowboarding. you sound like some goofy footed grommit, who barely knows what goofy foot is and more than likely is unsure if they are infact goofy footed. comprende,senior. seriously helio. you get the big pussy award for the year. i thought you were more core man. anybody know a way to not get pussy> do what he did^^^^^

just playing brother got get my rips when i can.

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