How To Use A Ski Lift On A Snowboard

Ski lift

Ski lifts. Some snowboarders love them, giving them time to relax and take in the stunning surroundings. Others aren’t so keen, and are filled with dread every time they approach.

For beginner snowboarders in particular, ski lifts can be a cause of much agitation and concern. There really is no need to be afraid, though, and once you’ve been up a few of times, you’ll feel much more comfortable.

However, if you’re still worried, we spoke to Mark Barber, Snowboard Editor from Snow.Guide, about how to use a ski lift without making a complete fool of yourself…

How to use a drag lift on a snowboard

As you approach, have one foot out of your bindings and skate up to the drag lift. Position yourself so the drag lift travels in front of you and that you’re sideways with your snowboard facing up the slope.

Grab the cable as it goes past and place the seat in-between your legs but do not try and sit on it! Have one foot out of your bindings and skate up to the drag lift. Place your free foot onto the snowboard in front of the unused binding (a stomp mat or Crab Grabs will help prevent your foot from slipping off the board. Push your foot slightly against the binding for more traction.

Related: Snowsport England Interview - staying safe on the slopes

Bend your knees slightly, hold onto the bar with one (or two) hands and prepare for the initial pull, leaning back slightly on your board. Remember, don’t sit down and keep your board facing upwards at all times. Also, keep your weight slightly to the back of your board. Keep the board flat to the surface and try not to get an edge.

At the exit, discard the pulley and snowboard away while keeping your board flat to the snow.

Snowboarder on chairlift

How to use a chair lift on a snowboard

Have one foot out of your bindings and skate up in front of the lift. As the chair approaches, make sure the board is facing up the slope, and place your free foot in front of you so you can swivel to a sitting position for the chair.

To dismount the chair lift, as the lift enters the end zone, place your hands either side of you and edge your bum slightly towards the edge of the seat in preparation.

Try and get your snowboard facing the direction of the lift as much as possible. As soon as you can reach the ground, swivel slightly into position and place your snowboard on the snow, with your free foot placed on the snowboard in front of the unused binding.  

Related: Snowboarding vs Skiing - which should you take up?

Don’t rush this next move - gently ease yourself off the seat by starting to stand up as it reaches the exit point and push slightly with your hands. Ride away on the exit run while keeping your board flat to the snow.

Do you have any tips for people worried about using ski lifts for the first time?

Watch how other snowboarders approach and disembark from ski lifts.  Watch what they do with their boards and how they manoeuvre themselves into position.

Don’t rush the exit from a chair lift and let the momentum push you forward. Ride away with your board flat after disembarking and do not try and stop too soon.

We mentioned them earlier - use stomp mats or Crab Grabs on your board for more traction on your loose foot.

When using a ’T’ bar lift, ride it alone and hold onto the other side of the ’T’ for balance.  All the other steps for riding a drag lift applies.


Switching from skiing to snowboarding, does using a ski lift differ?

Ski lifts are designed for skiers and so are more difficult for snowboarders to do. Essentially, skiers face the way the lift is going at all times where snowboarders have to be sideways!  Also, skiers still have both of their skis on while a snowboarder has to take one foot out of their bindings.  This makes it more challenging to disembark from the ski lifts.

Are there any common mistakes people make when using ski lifts?

Trying to ride away too quickly at the end and also panicking by trying to stop too quickly on the exit run.  As mentioned, keep the board flat to the snow and let the momentum take you until it is safe to gently stop.

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Are there any safety precautions snowboarders should take?

When getting ready to disembark from a chair lift, do not edge your bum too close to the edge of the seat as you don’t want to slip off!

You can read more great snowboarding tips over at the Snow.Guide website.

Are you a skier? Check out these tips on how to use a ski lift on skis.

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