You may think that while learning to ski or snowboard most people would focus on making it down the hill facing forward, but many people ride switch, often unintentionally, while learning and then never do it again once they’ve learned how to ride regular, especially snowboarders.
Even though riding switch isn’t a skill you’ll use on every run, if you get spun around by another rider or want to hit a small feature you’ll definitely wish you had it in your back pocket. Plus, riding switch is a vital skill for many freestyle and terrain tricks, so if you want to progress your riding check out ASO Mammoth’s guide to learning how to ride switch!
Riding Switch on Skis
The majority of skiers can ski all day without needing to ski switch, as the fact that you need to ride with your back facing down the slope makes it more trouble than it’s worth for many. Still, if you want to push your riding in the park or as a freestyle skier then it’s a great skill to learn. Once you’re comfortable skiing regular, practice skiing switch on a blue or green run. You’re going to be uncomfortable at first, so make sure you’re away from other riders and skiers.
Once switch, your first instinct is going to be to turn your head around so you can see where you’re going. It may take some practice and stretching, but you should turn your head, shoulders, and lower back around as far as you can so you have as much vision as possible. The next thing to focus on is your stance. Like when you’re first learning to ski regular, you’ll likely be tempted to spread your legs out, but try to bring your feet together and staggered underneath you. With your feet staggered, you’ll have better edge control and will be able to turn back around much easier than with your feet spread apart.
If you want to take your switch skiing even further, look into a pair of twin-tipped skis that will help you jump and land switch.
Riding Switch on a Snowboard
Many beginner snowboarders ride switch as a way to avoid riding on their edge, but forget about it once they’ve got their regular stance down. Learning to ride switch will improve your riding all-around though, so devote some time to your switch skills.
First, you’ll need to find a green or blue run that has few other skiers and snowboarders on it. Fortunately for you riding switch on a snowboard is a little more natural than on skis, but it’s still going to feel like you’re learning to ride all over again so be patient.
You’ll want to focus on mimicking your regular stance, so keep your knees bent and back straight as you try to balance. As you start turning and using your edge you may be tempted to switch back to regular, but if you’re on a gentle enough slope you won’t need to so plan appropriately, even it means riding a green at the base of the mountain.
In both skiing and snowboarding, you’re going to need to be patient while learning to ride switch as you’re basically learning to ride all over again. The good news is that as your switch riding progresses you’ll be able to incorporate it into your regular runs more often with less effort. Once you do, small bumps and jumps all over the mountain will be perfect for quick 180s and fun butters. For more ski and snowboard tips, gear, and Mammoth Mountain information, give ASO Mammoth a call!