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How to Ride a T-Bar

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How to Ride a T-Bar
How to Ride a T-Bar
Peter Dutton/flickr/CC BY 2.0

Not falling down when both feet are strapped to the snowboard is challenge enough for most beginners, so the idea of being dragged up the hill by a stick between your legs with only one foot strapped in can be daunting. Because of this, many inexperienced riders prefer to ride a chairlift. Although riding a t-bar is a bit tricky at first, it only takes most people a few tries to get the hang of it, and it’s much more beneficial than riding a chairlift. Sure, the prospect falling in front of a line-up of people is intimidating, but riding the t-bar is one of the fastest ways for new riders to improve their balance and confidence.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Strap your front foot into your front binding and push yourself into line using your free back foot. If you haven't mastered this technique yet, you should practice pushing yourself around on a flat area until you feel comfortable with it.

  2. When you reach the front of the line get ready to move into position. As soon as the people in front of you have cleared the boarding area, push yourself quickly into the boarding area. You don’t have to go barreling in there. There’s lots of time. You just want to move fairly quickly so that you can get yourself into position before your t-bar arrives. Nothing makes loading a t-bar harder than feeling rushed and off-balance.

  3. Once in the boarding area, point your board up the hill. Place your back foot on your board in front of your back binding (on the stomp pad if you have one). Make sure that your board is flat on the ground and bend your knees a bit. This will lower your center of gravity and help you to keep your balance when the lift starts to pull you. Now, look back at the lift operator so you can see what they’re doing.

  4. The lift operator will pull the t-bar down from its holder and place the horizontal bar of the t-bar between your legs so that it rests against the inside upper thigh of your front leg. As the lift operator moves the bar into position, grab the neck of the t-bar with your front hand and the horizontal bar with your back hand. This will feel natural and you’ll probably do it without even thinking about it.

  5. The t-bar will jerk you forward. This is the part where most people fall. Keep your knees bent, your board flat on the ground, and keep your center of gravity over the board. You may lean toward the back of the board slightly to compensate for the pull of the bar on your front leg. Once you’ve gotten past the initial pull you’re halfway there.

  6. Keep your board flat on the ground, your weight centered over your board, and your board pointed uphill. Grooves in the t-bar track will probably bump your board around a bit, but it should naturally correct itself.  If your leg becomes sore you can relieve the pressure from the bar by pulling the neck of the t-bar toward you with your front hand.

  7. When you reach the unloading area, use both hands to move the t-bar out from between your legs, hold it at arm’s-length in front of you, and then let it go.

  8. There are several methods for exiting the unloading area. Advanced riders will often make a controlled turn and cruise out of the unloading area. Less experienced riders will turn abruptly and stop (with only one foot strapped in this is actually easier than a controlled turn) and then push themselves out of the area. Some inexperienced riders feel more comfortable falling onto their hands and knees and crawling out of the loading area. All of these methods are perfectly acceptable. We all had to learn somehow, right?

Tips:

  1. It’s easiest to learn to ride a t-bar alone. Try this by yourself at first.

  2. Putting a stomp pad on your board in front of your back binding will help to keep your free back foot from slipping off the board. They're cheap and a good investment.

  3. Some people like to brace their back foot against their back binding for extra stability while riding the t-bar.

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