No matter how experienced a snowboarder you are, there is no doubt you’ve had problems with chairlifts at some point. Whether it be you had run-ins with other skiers and riders when unloading or simply falling on your own, chairlifts can be a little stressful.
Since we can think of nothing worse than getting injured on a chairlift, Never Summer wanted to review this fundamental part of snowboarding. By practicing movements and visualizing processes, you will learn to safely get your snowboard on a ski lift.
Why is it Hard to Get on a Ski Lift with a Snowboard?
If you have ever ridden with skiers, you’ve probably noticed that they have a much easier time with chairlifts than snowboarders. This isn’t because skiers are better athletes, it's because chairlifts were designed specifically for skiers!
Since skiers face straight down the mountain when skiing, have poles, are connected to skis with both feet and can snow plow, they have a much easier time with chairlifts. When you add the side-facing posture of a snowboard to a chairlift built for forward-facing skiers and you only have one foot connected to your snowboard, things can get a bit tricky. Especially on some of the steep, icy off ramps you will encounter getting off the chairlift at certain resorts.
Challenges with chairs grow even more difficult on large 6-pack lifts that are packed full on busy weekends and holidays. While many riders have certain places they like to sit on chairs for an easy exit, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Work on Your Skating
Since snowboarders face sideways and don’t use poles, getting around on the flat ground in a lift line can be tough. To keep moving with the crowd, you have to release your rear foot and use it to skate forward. The skating motion can be a bit awkward if you aren’t used to it.
Because skating is also a valuable tool to keep moving in long traverses and catwalks, it's a good idea to practice before hitting the slopes. It’s also good to practice riding with only your front foot connected on a gentle slope to get used to doing this while getting off the chairlift or traveling across flat areas. Since you only have a bit of flat ground to practice skating, you can do it anywhere with snow - even in your backyard! Skateboarding or longboarding can also help with this.
Rehearse Snowboard Lift Loading
It’s also possible to practice loading a chairlift in a snowy backyard. This time, draw a line in the snow to mimic the place where you would line up to load a chairlift.
Remember, you must always have your front foot fastened into your bindings when loading a chair. If you attempt to load with your back foot strapped to your board, it could cause serious injury – and even pull you off the chair altogether.
Skate forward and center your board over the line you drew in the snow. At this point, you will still be in the snowboarding stance, so you need to turn your hips and upper body to anticipate the incoming chair. After you turn, looking back to see where the chair is, be ready for the chairlift that will hit the back of your legs and while you sit down.
Visualize Unloading from a Chairlift
While the process of unloading a chairlift is tough to recreate off the mountain, you can visualize the movements to make it easier when the time finally comes.
When approaching the unloading area, turn your front foot so the nose of your snowboard faces forward. At this point, it's also a good idea to ask the other people on the chair which direction they will be turning. With this info, you can avoid running into someone. Take a quick look down and make sure your board or bindings aren't tangled or against other people’s equipment. Look forward to anticipate any hazards like fallen people or people standing in the way and calculate an escape route.
As the chairlift slows down for you to unload, keep your nose pointed forward and stand up with your back foot placed between the bindings or wedged against a binding. Never Summer’s Co-Extruded polymer textured top-sheets, like our Carbonium, Hex-Tech and Tru Grit provide some grip for your back foot. Working as a or in conjunction with a stomp pad.to help control your board getting off the lift.Riding away from the chair, look directly ahead, standing flat footed and try to move in a straight line. If someone is in your way, put slight pressure on the side you want to turn away from them. Before stopping, wait until you are far enough away from the lift to not get in anyone’s way. When you come to a stop, quickly move out of the way of other people exiting the chairlift and find a flat area that is out of the way to strap or Step On to your back binding.
Practice Riding with One Foot Strapped-In
Since you need to unload the chairlift with only a single foot strapped in, it's a good idea to practice a little bit of riding with one foot. Again, this motion can be practiced on a slope or small hill in your backyard or neighborhood.
With your front foot strapped in, ride down a gentle hill with your other foot resting between the two bindings. Stomp pads are especially helpful for keeping your foot on the board in these situations.
When headed downhill, you can gently slide your toe or heel off the board to slow yourself down when your toeside or heelside turns.
Contact Never Summer
Additional questions about getting off a snowboard lift safely? Contact Never Summer today.