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Snowboarding is such an amazingly fun sport and for as fun as it is, it’s extremely dangerous. One thing that was drilled into me while I was training to be a Snowboard Instructor was the 3 core tenants of AASI… Safety + Fun = Learning. Basically, if you’re being safe and having fun, you are going to learn.
Hands down the most important thing about snowboarding is safety.
I enjoy having fun and I’m pretty chill. That said, one thing I am extraordinarily strict on is Mountain Safety. And I’m not talking about just body armor and learning how to fall properly either… though I feel those are so extremely important. I’ll go into detail about safety equipment and body armor in another post.
What I feel the most important thing about being safe on the mountain is to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Paying attention is so super important. There are so many people out there who don’t pay attention, don’t care, are on a double black when they should be on a green, on a green when they should be on a double black, people who are out of control, people who blindly turn in front of you and cut you off, or a combination of the above.
Other people can and will hurt you because of their ignorance. Always remember that when you’re on the slopes.
Park & Mountain Etiquette
My girls have great Park & Mountain Etiquette, I have taught them from the time they were each 3-years old. They wait their turn on features, call their drops and don’t snake people or cut them off. If they are going to try something and they need the width of the run to do it they will wait on the side until it’s all clear. They’re super polite unless they’re talking smack to a Jerry, which they do quite often and it’s so funny.
Now if you’re a snowboarder and you’ve ridden anywhere, you know there are Jerrys and Richards (short for “Dick”) at every mountain (Jerry is a name given to idiots who just do dumb shit while Richards do dumb shit and have no Park Etiquette/ acting like an ass on the mountain). If you’ve ridden more than once, I know you’ve seen some bad Park & Mountain Etiquette. That said, there is no place on earth that has worse Park & Mountain Etiquette than Bear Mountain. Fight me?
Bear Mountain is the smaller of 2 resorts here in Big Bear Lake, CA. Snow Summit is the other. Together they are called Big Bear Mountain Resort. I think they’re going to connect both resorts in the next 5 or so years.
Bear Mountain is very small. It’s a top to bottom park and it’s so much fun. From Top Jump to Bottom Jump and every jump, hip, rail, box and jib you can think of in between it’s non stop excitement. For as awesome of a mountain as Bear is… wow… there are more Jerrys and Richards here than anywhere else in the world. There is no Park Etiquette, none whatsoever. Riding or skiing at Bear is a free-for-all riding experience. I’m not joking or exaggerating in the least bit.
With Zoë and Kaylee being so small… my most important goal is to try to keep them as safe as possible. I really stress for them to be aware of their surroundings.
I always have them looking uphill. If someone cuts them off (which it happens often) bail on the feature and yell loud. And even if no one cuts them off and they don’t feel comfortable hitting a feature, bail on it. It’s not a big deal.
Read the Signage and Understand It
Anyone who gets on a lift should read the posted signs all around the base of the resort that give Park & Mountain Etiquette guidelines. Just in case you are curious as to what they are, here you go.
- Make a Plan
- This should be self-explanatory. When you get on a lift, you should know where you’re going when you get off. There are free trail maps at the base everywhere if you don’t already know the resort.
- If you’re going to hit a feature you should know well ahead of dropping exactly what you’re going to do on the feature. If you are going to 50-50 it, boardslide, spin or whatever… you should absolutely know what’s up before dropping.
- We have predesignated meetup spots on all of the runs for when we get separated. Yes, we will get separated while riding together. It’s an oxymoron for sure. That said, we know where to chill and wait for others. And when we go to a new mountain I make sure we look at the trail maps together and create meetup spots along those trails.
- Look Before You Leap
- Before you hit 1 feature, you should ride through and look at them and inspect them 1st. Sounds like common sense right? Yeah, it’s not.
- Regardless if it’s a run I’ve never been on before or if I’ve been on it 100 times, I ride through and look at the features, look at the lips, transitions and landings. Which allows me to Make a Plan for my next run so I have a line in mind.
- Easy Style It (start small and work your way up)
- Just because I can hit big jumps doesn’t mean that should be the 1st thing I’m hitting today.
- Even though we do massive dynamic stretching before we get on the lifts, we want our legs to get warmed up on small things before going to big things. It just makes sense.
- When trying a new trick on a jump, start on the smaller jumps then work your way up to larger jumps… there’s no need to go full send right out the gate.
- Respect Gets Respect
- DON’T SNOWBOARD OR SKI DRUNK OR BAKED.
- You’re not only a danger to yourself, but you’re also a danger to everyone else too. I don’t care if you have a beer or 2 then go ride or smoke a bowl “in the parking lot” that’s no worries. It’s when you’re doing multiple shots, hitting the flask, doing 3 dabs then dropping in is when I have an issue. Don’t be a Richard.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated.
- It’s the “Golden Rule” and you should already practice this in every aspect of life.
- The person downhill from you always has the right of way.
- If you need to pass someone… to make sure they will hear you yell “to your right” or “to your left” so they will be aware.
- Don’t cut people off.
- This is part of paying attention. You may have the right of way. That said… cutting across an entire slope without looking uphill is a pure “Richard Move.”
- If you have to side slide on your board or do a floating leaf to get down a run, you shouldn’t be on it. Same goes with skiers who are doing a pizza. You people need to stay on the bunny hill.
- Wait your turn to hit a feature.
- Hey Jerry… don’t be a Richard and pass everyone who is waiting in line. We all learned to wait in line in kinder. Are you so dense you forgot that lesson?
- Make sure the person has cleared the landing of the feature before you drop in or hit it.
- I’ve seen so many people drop in immediately behind a person and boom… the person in front crashes and the person behind slams into them. Wait 30 seconds, have some patience.
- Don’t bang your board or skis into other peoples’ equipment when you’re standing in the lift line.
- Dude… don’t’ be a Richard… bra…
- No, I don’t like the 1997 Techno bumping from your Bluetooth speaker in the lift line.
- I will scan your Bluetooth device and take it over with my phone then bump “I’m Too Sexy” full blast on repeat. You won’t even know what to do.
- Don’t give the Lifty lip for asking to show your face to make sure it matches your season pass.
- They’re doing their job. And really, how shitty of a job is it to scan people in so they can go participate in the most fun activity in the entire world and you just have to stand there and watch?
- Smile and be kind…
- I mean, you’re only doing the most fun thing on the planet so you might as well be happy about it, right?
- DON’T SNOWBOARD OR SKI DRUNK OR BAKED.
Not only do my girls and I have conversations and speak about being safe, but we also have constant communication on the mountain.
I’m always yelling at them (never in anger, just so they can hear me). We also have our own language the 3 of us speak fluently.
We speak in a short, quick burst that is super easy to understand and gives direct communication. There are no pleases, thank yous or pardon me’s… and it works very well for us. We are super loud on the slopes yelling at each other and we really don’t care.
What’s more? We use hand signals WAAAAAYYYY more than we talk. We have a ton of hand signals we totally understand between us. People who don’t know must think we’re waving around like birds… I’m sure us having across-the-run, hand-communication conversations has to be a sight.
When you’re out on the slopes, be cool. That’s it. If you were to look at your actions from an outside point of view… would you consider yourself cool or that you were being a giant Richard? If it’s the latter, you’re doing it all wrong.
Safety + Fun = Learning and adding communication into the mix makes for a great time on the mountain.