how to wreck safely

How To Fall or Wreck Safely On A Snowboard

How To Fall Safely On A Snowboard

Introduction

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What up shredder? 

Falling on a snowboard sucks… 

I’ve broken bones, had the wind knocked out of me, knocked myself out and bruised my internal organs.

I’ve had whiplash, torn ligaments, bruised body parts and a bruised ego.

For most of us, oftentimes the reason we don’t want to try a new trick on a  snowboard is the fear of getting hurt, or wrecking.

But today, we’re going to show you how to wreck safely. Because, believe me, there is a right way and a wrong way to wreck.

And when you understand the right way, you’ll get hurt less often, try more tricks and get better at shredding, without being afraid of getting hurt.

Here we go. 

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Snowboarding Fails

how to wreck safely

For anyone who has ever strapped in on a snowboard, you know that wrecking is an inevitability. It’s not a matter of when we will wreck, but how.

And if you know just a couple tips, you can drastically increase the chances that wrecking won’t actually hurt you enough to stop shredding.

The worst wreck I ever had, I broke 3 bones in my back and bruised my lung and kidney, and it’s because I broke the 3 rules of wrecking.

Avoiding Snowboarding Wrist Fractures

Rule #1: Keep your hands to yourself 

The most common snowboard injury, especially in beginners, is a wrist fracture. That’s because beginners go to fall over, and the stick out their weak, brittle wrists, which snap like twigs falling from even a few feet up. 

I know, because I’ve done it. In 2006 I broke my wrist on a backyard jump.

This rule is Especially important for beginners, you’re going to catch edges, and the #1 thing you can do to prevent breaking your wrist is learn this rule. We found the highest rate of injury among young, inexperienced, female snowboarders.

Wrists are weak. Butts, hips and backs are much stronger. All we have to do is pull our hands in when we fall, and choose to either fall on our backs or behinds, or roll over our shoulder on to our feet. 

Bend your knees deeply when you’re going down, and you can soften the impact. 

Now, if youre brand new, the best thing I can think of to prevent a wrist fracture until you get the hang of it is to wear wrist guards.

If you really want to soften the blow, you can even get body armor aka crash pants, although I’ve never tried it so I can’t tell you how these affect your riding.

Snowboarding Head Injuries

If we go back 15 years, just 25% of skiiers and snowboarders wore a helmet, but today that number has risen to 85%, and even higher than that with children

We’ve seen enough pros taken out by head injuries that we now know our brain is not something to mess around with. 

While a helmet reduces the incidence of any head injury by 30 to 50 percent, the decrease in head injuries is generally limited to the less serious injuries.

There has been no significant reduction in fatalities over the past nine seasons even as the use of helmets overall has increased, meaning, a helmet doesn’t save you from serious head trauma. That’s because if the brain twists inside your skill, or has a serious concussion, it doesn’t much matter that you’re wearing a helmet on the outside. Recent developments such as MIPS have started to do better in this area, but it’s still unclear how this affects overall head injuries and mortality rates. 

Don’t worry though, the fatality rate is still extremely low at 1 per one million ski resort visits, and 72% of those fatalities are skiiers.

Your best bet of not dying on the ski slope, is don’t ski! As a side note for all the anti-snowboard crowd, skiiers cause more serious accidents with other people on the mountain, than snowboarders do. Skiiers run in to more people.

Just to stress that you don’t need to worry, last year 35,900 Americans died in motor-vehicle accidents; 5,300 pedestrians were killed; 8,600 died from unintentional public falls; 4,500 died from unintentional public poisoning; 2,400 people drowned while swimming in public areas; 800 died while bicycle riding; and only 54 died at a ski resort.

Snowboarding is safer than many other things you do.

Stopping Abruptly While Snowboarding

Rule #3: No head on collisions – and what I really mean by this, is don’t come to an abrupt stop in any situation. Especially headfirst.

This means no running in to other people, hitting trees or lift posts, or landing on the knuckle or the flats. It also means learning to not catch our edge.

Most of those fatally injured are above-average skiers and snowboarders who are going at high rates of speed on the margins of intermediate trails.

Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

If we can stay on an incline and let the energy from our wreck disperse itself, we’re usually going to be ok. 

Kind of like a car sliding out on a country road with no one around. Usually the car is going to be just fine.

The issue happens when a car hits a brick wall, another car, or flies off the road.

Likewise with snowboarding, it’s ok to fall as long as we do it properly, and don’t go from a high rate of speed to a complete stop.  

How Not to Fall on a Snowboard

Here’s how to wreck in different scenarios. 

How not to wreck on the slope: 

  • Don’t catch your downhill edge – keep your downhill edge lifted at all costs 
  • Don’t stop in a blind spot 
  • Don’t run in to anyone else 
  • Don’t ride drunk 
  • Don’t ride fast at the edge of the trees 
  • Don’t ride drunk near the trees

I have a friend with a metal plate in his face. He may or may not have been doing all three of these. When I was in 5th grade on my first ever visit to Colorado, I ran in to my dad’s friend’s daughter, *while I was skiing, who was hosting us, and we had to call ski patrol. Needless to say, our host was not very happy with me. 

Keep in mind, only 21.8% of snowboard injuries occurred in the terrain park, so most injuries are going to happen out on the slope. How to wreck on jumps: 

  • Land on your feet first 
  • Don’t catch an edge going off the lip 
  • Don’t land on the knuckle 
  • Don’t overshoot the jump 
  • Get your speed right, and land in the actual landing 
  • If you do wreck and can’t get up: Get out of the blind spot so no one lands on you 

Your best bet here is to start small and work your way up, and don’t do things you have no business doing unless you have put in the required practice. 

How to fall on rails: 

  • Get away from the rail before falling over 
  • Don’t get your board stuck under the rail 
  • Detune your edges 
  • Wear a helmet

From personal experience, stay away from handrails in the city

What to Do When You Get Injured While Snowboarding

If you or a friend do wreck and get seriously injured, there’s emergency help at the bottom of the mountain, and you can use emergency phones to call. It’s also good mountain citizenship to help others who are in need. 

These days honestly I try not to ever really wreck at all. It’s more like sliding out. Disperse the energy, keep your wrists away from the ground, don’t hit any trees, hit the sweet spot on the landing, wreck away from the rail and start small and work your way up. 

The last thing I want to say is this – most people get hurt because they get out of their element. They try things they have no bsiness doing. They abide by the motto go big or go home, and then they end up going home on a stretcher. You have to start small and progressively work your way up. Don’t try to hit big jumps before mastering the medium jumps. Don’t try to hit a huge rail if you can’t even hit a box.

Don’t charge through the trees if you can’t even carve down the open run. Ride at the edge of your abilities rather than beyond your abilities and you’ll get better every time you ride, and before you knnow it, you’ll be shredding with the best of them. 

Peace out shredder

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