After 15 years, I finally got a taste of Colorado’s famous pow—an almost unnervingly different experience than riding the groomers I was used to. But with Vail snowboard instructor Mike Dunworth’s help, I did it without face-planting or, worse, careening into a yard sale. His tips for any novice powder-hound:

1. Keep Your Nose Up: Do the opposite of what you’d do on a groomer, Dunworth says. “Lean back, flex your back knee, and keep the tip of your board up.” This lets you maintain momentum and avoid major spills.

2. Tone Down The Turns: Actually, Dunworth told me NOT to turn. Even on a reasonably steep pitch, the thick snow will naturally check your speed. To further slow down, lean gently one way and let the board do the work for you.

3. Be Lazy: Boarding on groomed runs can be intense—you’re concerned about foot placement and your edges. Not so in powder. “Just relax. Be lazy. Don’t fight it,” Dunworth says. In other words: pure snowboarding Zen.

If You Go: Vail Ski & Snowboard School, $140 group lesson, $525 private lesson (lift ticket not included), 970-754-8245;

This article was originally published in 5280 March 2012.
Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke
Geoff Van Dyke is the editorial director of 5280 Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffVanDyke