Snowboard Code: Smart Style

By: Lou G

It wasn't that long ago that the little orange ovals posted over snowboard parks worldwide did not exist. When freestyle snowboarding starting to move further and further mainstream the resorts and the snowboarders decided to create a method for approaching the features in a park and they called it Smart Style. But what does it mean? I know that the orange oval means there's going to be some fun stuff to hit, but what is this 'snowboarder's code' all about?

There are four parts to Smart Style:

Make a Plan


Pretty much common sense, this section is about knowing what you want hit in the terrain park before you drop. This means not only knowing what features you are going for and where they are, but also the trick you want to do and the mechanics (speed, approach, take off, execution, and landing) involved. This must be why they call it Smart 'Style', because if you took that approach to your runs I don't think you would ever fall.

This implies a reserved style of riding, a 'stick to what you know' mentality. On the weekends or when snowboarding a packed run this would be a pretty good approach to avoid hitting or being hit by others.

But what about progression?

Look Before You Leap


Ties right in with the last point, just know everything about what you hit before you are hitting it. Also pay attention to conditions. If it gets cloudy then the temperature can drop drastically, colder snow moves faster so never assume that the feature will be the same.

Another really important idea brought up is the spotter. Especially for bigger kickers, you don't want to be mid 1080 looking down at the skier that climbing up the landing for his pole. Every snowboarder throwing down at the park probably has someone spotting him. They not only make sure the only thing you have to worry about is doing your trick, but they make sure that the new kid behind you doesn't just assume you landed and then land on you.

Snowboarding is inherently dangerous, it is definitely worth it to take the time to check off all the things within your control that could go wrong so you only have to worry about landing... right? Well said Smart Style.

Easy Style It

This is where they talk about progression. The first rule is to know your limits, which is of course necessary if you want to push them. It's all about working way up, taking tricks from flat, to small jump, to the kickers. Don't assume that just because you've got one trick then you have the others... make sure you really know the tricks.

People spend hours a day doing hundreds of laps, lifting thousands of reps and snowboarding is a lot like that... except you are going to need to do hundreds of backside 360s to know you can do a backside 360. That's the essence of being good at any sport, repetition and easy yet constant progression.

Did you know that inverted aerials (rodeos, backflips, etc.) were not even allowed for a while? If you did one you would be greeted by ski patrol at the bottom of the run. Crazy! Things finally changed and parks use the term 'not recommended'. Inverted aerials put you in a position where you may not land on your feet, so you need to know exactly what you are doing in the air. Get a trampoline first and work your way from there. Don't just try a backflip on the first medium kicker of the day.

Respect Gets Respect


Like being in kindergarten all over again. Just understand that terrain parks are risky business regardless of skill. Also note that other people are around you and anything can happen (like being cut off on the freeway you know?).

Calling your start is just a really awesome way of letting everyone know who's next. Ever been caught up at the pipe and you drop but then another guy drops and everything just gets screwed up? Always call you start on a busy feature to ensure that you and only you are going for it. If you fall and you aren't hurt get the heck out of the way spotter or not. You'll have plenty of time to laugh about it later. I have seen people blow right past the spotter (who at this point is screaming and flailing his arms) only to land on the guy who already is having hard time, what with the fall and everything.


So now that I've been through it again I think Smart Style is a pretty good approach to snowboarding in general, not just freestyle terrain. The good thing is that after reviewing it I can say that for the most part we all follow it, whether we knew it existed or not. We are all snowboarders and snowboarders abide by the snowboarder's code: Know the code! Smart Style!

You can get the full scoop from http://www.terrainparksafety.org. It's a pretty cool site anyway, check it out.

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