FLOW-HOW: How-To Conquer the Chairlift

How To Ride the Chairlift - Snowboarding
The chairlift can be an intimidating obstacle. A giant metal bench swinging on a bar coming right at you doesn’t exactly seem that inviting. However, underneath that cold exterior, the chairlift is our friend. It eliminates the grueling task of hiking up the mountain for every run. This Flow-How will help you become a chairlift master and turn the lift into a friend instead of foe.

Get Comfortable:

#1 On Your Board

Don’t rush into a situation that you are not ready for. Practice on flat snow simply pushing around. Your front foot is the only foot that should be strapped in while your back foot pushes and glides you along. Build up your confidence on flat ground and get comfortable with your board. If you are unsure of something, ask a fellow boarder (snowboarders are pretty nice people).

Tip: When pushing, keep your back foot behind the heel-side of you board instead of pushing from the toe-side. This will keep you from tripping over yourself.

#2 With the Idea of the Chairlift

Confidence is key with almost everything in snowboarding. Don’t try, do. Trying is doing something with the intent to fail. That being said if you don’t feel ready for the chairlift, then wait. Hit the bunny slope a few more times and build your confidence. When you’re ready to finally try the lift, don’t be scared. Be aggressive and confident, everyone has to start somewhere.

#3 With Others Around You

Depending on the lift, you could be riding with just one other person or three other people. As you get closer to the lift entry, people will start to line up in rows of 2 to 4 people (Note: The chairlift operator will make this clear to you as you approach the lift). Stay close to the people in your group, yet give them their space. Sometimes you will bump them as you push forward to sit on the lift. This is normal, stuff happens.

Entering the Chairlift:

#4 Position Yourself to Succeed

As you approach closer to the lift entrance, observe what others are doing. Note where they are going and where they are getting on the chairlift. The best way of learning for most is observation. Monkey see, monkey do. When it is your turn to hop on the lift, push yourself forward following the chair of the group in front you you. There will be a line painted in the snow (usually red or blue), stop here and look behind you. Your chair should be approaching you. At first it may seem like it is coming extremely fast towards you, but it slows down as it reaches your location. Be patient, let the chair come to you. Keep your board pointed forward and as the bench nears, gently sit down and lean back (Note: Make sure your whole butt is on the seat, don’t just sit on the edge).

Riding the Chairlift:

#5 Pull the Safety Bar Down and Relax

Once you’ve made it safely on the lift, pull down the safety bar and enjoy the ride. The ride up is a perfect time to catch your breath and enjoy the beautiful views around you. Also, you can view the runs below you and map out which run you want to ride. In order to relieve strain on your legs, put your un-strapped foot underneath your board. This will distribute the weight of the snowboard equally and keep your legs rested and fresh.

Tip: The chairlift can take a while to get to the top. This is a perfect time for a snack and/or beverage to relax and recharge.

Exiting the Chairlift:

#6 Take Your Time and Be Confident

As your chair approaches the top of the lift, raise the safety bar and prepare to exit. Prepare to exit the lift by facing the nose of your board towards the ramp. The chairlift will do most of the work for you, do not try to exit too early. As your board touches the ramp, gently stand up and glide yourself down the ramp. Have your back foot wedged against the inside of your back binding in order to give yourself stability and control. Make sure that you completely ride down the exit ramp before attempting to turn to either side. The exit ramp can be very icy and a rider is more prone to slipping out on icy surfaces. Once you are safely down the ramp, push yourself to either side of the lift to a bench. Step in your bindings and enjoy your run!

Like anything, perfecting the chairlift takes time and practice. Stay within your abilities and only attempt the chairlift when you feel comfortable enough. Get out on the mountain and have some fun!


-Come join us and Flow The Feeling!


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3 thoughts on “FLOW-HOW: How-To Conquer the Chairlift

  1. Chairlift speed varies greatly.

    I find it easier sitting on the outermost seat. Sitting on the outside gives you more space to manoeuvre if you’re uncertain about what you’re doing and means you won’t collide with others upon exiting.

    Slow the chairlift down with your back hand as it arrives and just sit, this will avoid it hitting the back of your legs. Using your back hand to push away from the seat makes it easier and gives you momentum when exiting the chairlift.

  2. When practicing scooting around also practice using your back heel as a brake and also seeing if you can turn (personally I find that with only the front foot strapped in I can do a pretty good heelside turn). When you work out which turn is easiest try and get on that end of the lift.

    If you do fall there is no shame. Just get clear quickly and make sure that the next chairlift doesn’t clout you on the back of the head. Most of the time the lift op will stop the lift anyway.

  3. Pingback: FLOW-HOW: How-To snowboard down the mountain and make perfect S-Turns —Flow Snowboarding Lifestyle Blog Flog

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