When you step into your bindings for the first time, your first concern is simply making it a few feet without falling, not riding the steepest runs on the mountain.
Some people always ride that way, others strive to just be comfortable on their skis or snowboard, and most people end up wanting to have fun on blue and green runs all over the mountain. After enough blue runs though, some snowboarders and skiers get the itch to ride more challenging terrain and look to the black diamonds to scratch it. If you’ve got an itch for riding expert terrain but aren’t sure how to make the transition from blues to black diamonds, check out the ASO Mammoth guide below!
The Same Skills, Different Terrain
Although black diamond terrain is rated for experts, the skills needed to ride it are the same ones needed to ride a blue run.
Whether it’s being able to carve on a snowboard or stay centered on skis, the fundamentals you learn on green and blue runs are the same skills you’ll use to make it down a black diamond safely. For this reason, it’s vital that you master the fundamentals of skiing or snowboarding before you ride onto your first black diamond.
Take it Slow
You may hear expert skiers and snowboarders talk about becoming better by pushing their skills to the edge of their abilities, but if you’re riding your first black diamond then you are not an expert skier and there is no need to push your skills on your first run.
Be patient on your first black diamond by focusing on your technique during your turns instead of the terrain or other riders around you. Everyone needs time to physically and mentally get used to the steeper terrain on a black diamond, and the best way to go faster is to start out slow.
Take Advanced Lessons
If you’re determined to master black diamonds as quickly as possible, the best way to do it is by taking an advanced lesson.
Although most people think of ski school as for beginners only, most ski schools have a wide variety of lessons including advanced riding courses. For example, Mammoth Mountain’s ski school offers private lessons as well as group lessons for everyone from beginners to backcountry pros.
Book a private lesson or find a group of friends for a group lesson for what you need!
Stay Centered in the Black Diamonds
We mentioned the importance of mastering the fundamentals earlier, and here’s another reason why.
When most people push their skills, they revert to bad habits because that’s what feels comfortable. For skiers, the best example is putting too much weight on their heels and leaning back as they ride. Although this may feel more comfortable, skiers need to have their weight balanced and centered in order to make turns.
Don’t fall into this habit just because it’s comfortable. If you find yourself leaning too far back, have a friend film you while skiing and watch for when you tend to lean back.
Ride with Someone Who Knows the Terrain
If you’re pushing your skills by riding a black diamond for the first time, then the last thing you want to run into is unexpected terrain.
Fortunately, it’s easy to see what’s ahead on most groomed black diamonds. If you’re riding moguls or tree runs that are black diamonds though, you may run into surprises that throw you off your game. In order to avoid any surprises that could lead to accidents, ride with someone who knows the black diamond you’re riding.