Especially if you’re on a full lift and surrounded by other snowboarders and skiers.
You might be just ready to leave the bunny slopes and head up a ski lift for the first time or maybe you’ve been riding the lifts for a while now but want to know how to disembark more smoothly.
Practice Riding with Only One foot in the Board
Getting on and off a ski lift, riders have to have one foot out of the binding. This means when you disembark the lift you will only have one foot strapped in.
So, the more capable you are riding with only one foot strapped in, the smoother your lift exit will be.
- Find a very gentle short slope to practice on
- Strap in your front foot (left if you are regular, right if you are goofy)
- Place your back foot on the board between the bindings but so that it is pressed against the back binding for support. If you have a stomp pad this is also great for grip
- Start to move down the slope slowly – wriggle your hips if you need some help to get going
- Ride down and then move your free foot slightly off the edge the board on the toe side and gently dig this into the snow to slow yourself down and stop
- Practice doing little turns – sometimes called J turns – on the toe edge and heel edge. It can help to have your heel slightly over the back of the board so that you can gently drag it in the snow to help you stop during a “heel J turn” and gently dig in your boot’s toe on a “toe J turn”
Alternatively to having a slope you can practice skating on a flat. Push yourself forward on your board with your free foot to get moving and then lift your free foot onto the board and let the board slide with both feet on it for a while.
Repeat this over your flat section. This can be a good way to practice before finding a gentle slope to practice one-foot riding on – and it will also help you practice skating for getting up to the lifts and in other situations.
Time to Brave the Lift!
Once you are feeling more comfortable skating and riding a gentle slope on one foot it’s time to hit the lifts.
Getting on the Lift
- Once you are at the front of the queue there will usually be a barrier or a line where you will wait.
- Once the barrier opens, or the lift for those in front of you has gone past, skate forward to the designated line.
- Once there the lift will come around and you’ll just need to sit down as the lift hits your legs
- Remember to lower the safety bar!
Right that’s the easy part.
Now for the part that most new riders don’t enjoy.
Getting off the lift
This is the harder part but this can be smooth if you follow a few basic guideline.
- As the end of the lift ride approaches start to get your snowboard ready. Turn on your side a bit and twist the board around so that it is facing the direction you want it too when you unload.
- The lift will slow down as it approaches the end so you will be able to place your board on the ground and get your back foot on there before you have to stand up. There’s not a heap of time but there’s enough. You don’t have to jump off the lift!
- Try to get ready to disembark relatively early, especially if you’re new at it. Sometimes your board can get tangled up with other boards and skis – you don’t want to be trying to untangle just as you’re about to unload!
- When you disembark try to remain upright and looking where you are going. If you look at your feet too much and bend right over (which a lot of new riders tend to do when getting off the lift) you might bump heads with other riders doing the same thing or just generally bump into others – which often results in the both of you taking an ungraceful exit from the lift.
- Ride straight out from the lift as far as possible. Most lift exits are made so that the slope eases off after a bit which will slow you down. If you try to turn straight away and dig your foot in to slow you down you will take out others who are getting off the lift
- So wait until you are clear of the lift and then do your J turns to slow yourself down
- Make sure that you are enough out of the way of the lift so that riders and skiers on the next lift have enough space to do what you just did
This may sound daunting for some new riders but it’s really not that bad. And if you practice your one-footed riding you will find it’s not too bad at all.
Here’s a Quick Video
It doesn’t have all the details but will give you a visual demonstration.
Over to You
Practicing before you get on the lift will make a big difference.
That practice will make you confident – and then after a couple of smooth exits (maybe preceded by some not so graceful exits!) you’ll feel even more confident.
Don’t worry if you aren’t smooth at this at first or take a couple of tumbles – that’s all part of it. And if other riders give you the stare remember that they were once in your position – most riders are friendly and will understand.
If skiers give you that stare just ignore them – remember that it’s much easier for them as ski lifts are designed for skiers so they don’t get it. But again most skiers, as much as it pains me to say it :-), are also friendly. If they’re grumpy and uptight then it’s their problem not yours – enjoy your day on the slopes!
Thanks for reading and I hope this post will help to make your ski lift exit a smoother experience!