Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snowboard boot arch and foot pain

Having foot pain in your snowboard boots is a common reason why people quit snowboarding.  Who likes to be in pain all day?  It isn't fun.

A common cause for snowboard boot pain is lack of proper support for the foot.  Feet come in different lengths, widths, arch height, and shapes.  Stock snowboard boot insoles can rarely accommodate all types.

People that seem to experience the most foot pain while snowboarding are those with high arches.  If they aren't supported, you'll experience foot pain.  If one wears custom orthotics in ski boots, you'll need them in snowboard boots too.


Before shelling out the cash for expensive orthotics, see if some of the other insole products out there will relieve your foot pain.  A few like Aline will also realign the lower legs when fitted properly.

Other arch support insoles for snowboard boots include Superfeet, Down Unders, and Shred Soles.  If you can't find these in your local snowboard shop, one can often find other great options offered online.  These include Sof Sole insole products.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ski Chair Lift Safety

Chair lift safety should be a prime concern for every skier, snowboarder, skibiker, or parent. Ski resorts have lift loading policies posted near their lifts and on trail maps for a reason - safety.

According to the Responsibility Code printed on almost every paper napkin found inside ski resort restaurant, "Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely."

The Competition Center at Winter Park Resort in Colorado printed the following Chair Lift Policy in its recent newsletter. It's a good reminder of how dangerous chair lifts can be when not used properly.

"Riding a chair lift is serious business. Please review the following tips for safe lift riding.

  • Always sit still with no horseplay.
  • If you choose to lower the bar, it should be done by the people on the side where they can reach to the side to raise and lower it. Shorter people can arch their way off of the lift when lowering if they aren't tall enough to reach it easily in the center.
  • The bar is not a "safety bar" and you should never lean forward onto the bar as you can still slide out where there is a gap between the bar and chair seat.
  • Never lean forward to look below or to mess with your skis or boots. Optimally, all riders should sit back so their entire back is against the back of the lift chair. This may make short legs stick straight out rather than hanging down. A good way to remember this is "back to back and seat to seat".
  • If someone does not load properly, yell out loudly "stop" so the operator can stop the lift. They may not be able to see that a person is not seated properly.
  • Ask your coach if you have questions about chairlift riding and tell your coach if someone is goofing off while riding and endangering themselves or others. Remember that the consequences of falling out of a chairlift can be severe. "
If you don't know how to use a chair lift, please take a lesson and learn.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tips for beginner snowboarders

Learning to snowboard is much easier than back in the late 1980's. Real snowboard boots didn't exist - try learning in Sorrels. Snowboards were basically stiff planks of wood that required kick turns. Snowboard bindings were pretty bad too.

After 20 plus years of snowboarding and close to ten years of instructing, I can say a thing or two about beginner snowboarding tips. Most snowboard lessons are beginner lessons so there's plenty of chances to try different teaching techniques.

If you're just starting out and looking for beginner snowboard advice or tips, I wrote up some articles just for you. One piece of advice to start - take lessons from an AASI Certified Snowboard Instructor and take several lessons. You'll learn to turn and usually without alot of hard falls.

When first learning to snowboard, many people don't always know what to wear. I've typed up some guidelines. The Top Ten Worst Things to Wear While Skiing or Snowboarding

Need some basic beginner snowboarding tips? This article has lots of good advice. The Best Tips for Beginner Snowboarders

Having properly tied snowboard boots is key to learning to snowboard. This article gives the basics for lace up boots. How to Tie Snowboard Boot Laces

First time on a snowboard? More good tips. Tips for First Time Snowboarders

Struggling with getting off a chairlift without falling? Tips for Getting Off a Ski Chair Lift on a Snowboard

The snowboard rental shop can be confusing to beginners. What's really important to do before your lesson. Beginner's Guide to Renting a Snowboard and Snowboard Boots

Learn to snowboard at an uncrowded ski resort. You'll be more relaxed and not worrying about hitting someone. The Top 5 Ski Resorts for Beginning Skiers and Snowboarders in the USA

And this article spells it all out when it come to beginner snowboard tips.Complete Beginners Guide to Snowboarding from a Snowboard Instructor

Learning to snowboard dosen't have to be full of pain and fear. If it is, don't tip the snowboard instructor. Had a fantastic lesson? - tip the snowboard instructor and go fill out a guest services card so management will know too. Tipping isn't something new - it's a reward for giving good guest service.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things that don't belong in ski or snowboard boots

I've seen some crazy things over the years. So I thought I would make a list of things never to put in ski boots or snowboard boots. There are a few other newbie things to be aware of too.

Ski pants - do not ever stick your ski pants, pants, or blue jeans into your boots. That means don't tuck your pants inside your boots. They belong outside and over the boot. You'll have excruciating pain in your shin if the pants are inside the boot. Snow and other moisture can get into the boot too.

Two pairs of socks - Ski or snowboard boots do not fit properly if one needs two pairs of socks. In addition, they will cut off the blood circulation to your feet and they will get cold. If you need more than one pair - go see a bootfitter.

Shoes - Yes, I've seen people put their feet with shoes on them into ski boots. Ski boots are meant to be worn with one pair of socks - period. Take the shoes off and put them into a locker.

Tie your snowboard boot laces all the way up. And make them snug too. The laces on snowboard boots are meant to be used for every hole and hook on the boot. Don't tie them off in a big knot at the ankle. Lace them up and give your feet and ankles some support. You'll be more in control of your snowboard this way.

Put the boots on the correct feet. On ski boots the buckles will clamp down to the outside of the boots. If you have to clamp the buckles down to the inside of the boots, they are probably on the wrong feet. They'll hurt like hell too.

Check for stray objects. I heard about one guy who complained about racking foot pain in one ski school class. After taking the boot off, he found a spark plug in the boot. The garage generally isn't a good place to store ski boots anyway.

There's a learning curve with every new sport. You'll now be ahead of everyone else in your ski school group.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What's easier - skiing or snowboarding?


I get asked all the time which is easier - skiing or snowboarding? This is usually asked by people who are from warm weather states, those who aren't really very athletic, those not in shape, or those not interested in falling alot when learning.

The answer? Neither. Skibiking on a skibob is easier than skiing or snowboarding. If you can ride a bicycle, a competent skibike instructor can teach anyone to ride a skibob in four turns. They are that easy. No falling required -really!

Those who have blown knees, back pain, little leg strength, physical limitations due to disease or injury, are overweight, or morbidly obese couch potatoes can be cruising down green runs in one run on a skibob. They are affectionately known as 'grandma bikes' in Europe for a reason.

Just put your chin on your shoulder, turn the handlebars, and lean in the direction you're turning. Start out on gentle terrain and use big wide turns. It's hard not to be making linked turns in 100 yards.

There's no need to work up a sweat learning to ski or snowboard anymore. Sore muscles and joints are a thing of the past too.

More ski resorts are becoming skibike friendly around the country. See if one is near you. There's no reason for the entire family not to be out on the ski slopes.

One note: Don't confuse a skibob with more technical peg skibikes. A peg skibike will probably take 3 hours under competent instruction to get the basics of turning and stopping down. Rentals will usually require a mandatory lesson or skibike license.

Skibike articles I wrote a few years ago -

How to Ride a Traditional "foot Ski" Ski Bike

An Introduction to snow bikes, ski bikes and board bikes



Photos: Ski bikes and snow bikes found in Colorado

Where to Rent a Skibike in Colorado

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The most awesome snowboard stomp pad

Hate wiping out getting off the chairlift on your snowboard? Me too. That's why I, and several other snowboard instructors have agreed that one snowboard pad is hands down the most awesome snowboard pad one can have.

And the winner is the Dakine Spike Stomp Pad. For a mere $10 one can look like a professional snowboarder when exiting the top of Chair 2 at Loveland Ski Resort in Colorado. For those of you who know that ramp - one can conquer that ramp in icy conditions with this stomp pad.

Oh, and don't cut it up into strips when mounting it onto your board. Install it as one unit a few inches in front of your back snowboard binding.

Don't know how to mount a snowboard stomp pad?

I wrote up some installation directions. Don't skip any steps and it won't come off until you rip it off the board.

How to attach a stomp pad to a snowboard
How to install a snowboard stomp pad


© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why wax your snowboard

Waxing the bottom of a snowboard is basic maintenance that needs to be done. Snowboard wax is pretty cheap and it's really easy to apply.

The wax helps your snowboard glide on the flats, helps with smoother turning, and adds some protection to the base of the board. Use the wrong snowboard wax and you could be sticking to the snow like glue.

If you find ice crystals sticking to the bottom of board and you can't get the board to move forward, it could be time to wax. It might also be a sign that your board was warm and it got placed on cold snow before it had time to cool down to the outside temperature.

If the base looks white - definitely time for a wax job. Run a fingernail down the base. If wax doesn't come up - time to pull out the snowboard wax, wax iron, and snowboard scraper.

I've written some guides to make things even simpler.

How to hot wax your snowboard

Buyer's guide to snowboard wax


How to wax a snowboard


© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to buy snowboard boots

Buying the right pair of snowboard boots is the most important decision to make as a snowboarder. Without the right pair your feet will probably be in pain all day and you may end up quitting the sport. That's what I almost did in the early 1990's.

While it is tempting to buy that cheap pair of snowboard boots online, you can't get the same fit that one can get at a bricks and mortar store with a good bootfitter. It's better to pinch your pennies somewhere other than on your snowboard boot purchase.

If you are in the market for a new pair, there are some simple guidelines that are good to follow. Expect the process to take a few hours. In the end, your feet will thank you.

Tips for Choosing Snowboard Boots

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stay safe while out on the ski slopes

From personal experience - getting hurt while out on the slopes is a great way to ruin a vacation or a ski season. It can also result in death. Getting hurt snowboarding is generally something to avoid.

With common sense most accidents can be avoided. Skiing and snowboarding at Western USA ski resorts present additional hazards not experienced at Eastern USA ski resorts. Prime examples - treewells and avalanches.

Don't know what a treewell is or how you can die in it? You aren't alone.

I wrote an article last season entitled "How to Stay Safe While Skiing or Snowboarding at a Ski Resort

There's something there for everyone.

Oh, and be sure to carry your health insurance card with you just in case of injury. Most hospitals and slopeside clinics will need a photocopy or they will demand immediate payment of all bills.


© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dealing with foot arch pain when snowboarding

Arch foot pain is pretty common for snowboarders. Unfortunately most recreational riders don't know what causes it or how to deal with it.

Most arch pain is due to ones personal foot structure. Those with high foot arches seem to suffer the most foot pain in my beginner lessons. Rental boots just don't offer the support their foot needs.

An unsupported foot arch will collapse in the boot and then get squashed down with the snowboard bindings. Most start to notice the foot pain within a few runs out on the slopes.

Professional snowboard instructors know their feet need support and cushioning to prevent foot pain while snowboarding. The first thing most do when buying a new pair of snowboard boots is to take out the stock snowboard boot footrest and replace it with either a semi-custom or custom footrest.

If you are experiencing pain in your feet while snowboarding, it might be time to invest in some replacement footrests. Trimmable, semi-custom brands include Down-Unders and Superfeet. One brand that adds lower leg alignment is Aline.

Superfeet and Down-Unders run about $30. Aline cost around $79.

Semi-custom and custom orthotics aren't just for skiers, snowboarders need them too. If you have high arches and suffer excruciating foot pain while snowboarding - there's no need to suffer any longer.

Another article I've written on snowboard foot pain -

Prevent Arch and Foot Pain in Snowboard Boots

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The worst things to wear snowboarding

Beginners and those from warmer climates are sometimes clueless when it comes to dressing for cold winter climates. Adding about 9,000 feet in altitude adds to the mix.

If you are just starting out, here are some things to avoid wearing when snowboarding.

Cotton socks - they hold moisture next to your feet and keep them cold. Use a pair of wool-blend pair of snowboard socks instead.

Two pairs of socks - wearing two pairs of socks inside snowboard or ski boots cuts off the circulation to your feet. They then get cold. Spend the time to get a well-fitting pair of boots instead.

Cotton clothing - while cotton works great for summertime, it will leave you shivering in winter. Again, it holds moisture next to your body and makes you cold. Don't wear blue jeans out on the ski slopes.

Non-waterproof clothing - one sweats from the inside and snow melts from the outside. You'll soon be a frozen soggy mess. Leave the Starter jacket at home. Ski clothing rentals are available at most ski resorts.

Heavy backpack - unless you are spending the day in the backcountry, this isn't necessary. An overstuffed backpack will make it difficult to load a chairlift and will also throw your balance off while snowboarding. Check that backpack into a locker.

Wearing appropriate snowboard clothing can make the difference between a good and bad day on the slopes.

The Top Ten Worst Things to Wear While Skiing or Snowboarding

© 2012 G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Snowboard Instructor World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.