Snow Zone

Board Tips

By JAMES RADKE

 

Since snowboards require the use of bindings, your stance on a snowboard
will determine how you mount those bindings. The first element of your stance
you’ll need to figure out is whether you will ride regular-footed or
goofy. Regular is left-foot-forward and goofy is right-foot-forward.
It’s kind of like being right- or left-handed—almost everyone has
a built-in preference one way or the other. If you skateboard, surf or
waterski on one ski, you may already know which foot you prefer to have in
front. But sometimes your preference will vary from sport to sport.
Personally, I ride snowboards goofy-footed. Pro riders Jussi Oksanen and Gian
Simmen snowboard regular and skateboard goofy—go figure.

You won’t know for certain if you are regular or goofy until you head
up to the mountain and give it a try. But here are some tricks to help you
predict your preference:

• Run through the kitchen or across a hardwood floor in your socks.
Suddenly stop and slide. Which foot went in front?

• Have a trusted friend sneak up behind you and give you a little shove.
Which foot did you use to catch yourself? (That will be your front foot on
the snowboard.)

• When you’re riding downhill on a bike and stand up on the
pedals, which foot do you put in front?

The width of your stance, or your bindings, should be a little wider than
shoulder-width. It should feel very comfortable and stable, as though
you’ve just jumped off a small ledge and landed in a balanced crouch.
For most people, your feet will be somewhere between 18″ and 22″ apart,
depending on the length of your legs. If nothing feels comfortable, try
adjusting your stance according to your height. If you’re less than
five feet tall, your stance should be between 17 and 18 inches; if
you’re between 5’ and 5’5″, place your feet 18 or 19 inches
apart; if you’re between 5’5″ and 5’10″, place them between
19 and 21 inches apart, and if you’re taller than 5’10″, try
standing with your feet between 20 and 22 inches apart.

The angle of your foot in relation to the board is also based on personal
preference and riding style. You won’t need to dig out a protractor on
this one, though; the angle measurements are printed on the binding. For
freeride and freestyle riders, the front binding should be angled anywhere
from 10 to 30 degrees. I recommend starting at 15 degrees for the front
binding and then adjusting based on what feels most natural and comfortable
to you.

The back binding can be angled toward the front of the board like the front
binding, or toward the back of the board. (This is known as riding duck-foot;
duck-footed positions have binding angles in the negative range.) The rear
binding should be angled anywhere from about -15 to +10 degrees, depending on
what’s most comfortable for you. To find your optimal setting, I
recommend starting with a rear binding angle of 0, or straight across the
board. Then adjust from there until you feel at ease.

Like snowflakes, no two stances are exactly alike. Unlike snowflakes, they
will evolve over time. Remember: snowboard bindings are extremely adjustable
and easy to change, so play around with your settings. You may find that you
prefer a particular stance for heavy snow days and another for riding the
pipe or rails. V

James Radke is a longtime snowboarding instructor who lives in
Calgary.

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