Catching An Edge
Catching an edge is when a snowboarder is tripped up by the leading edge of their snowboard getting caught in the snow. It is a common reason for beginners to crash, and the main reason that learning to snowboard has a reputation for being a bit painful. As a snowboarder gains experience, they learn to avoid the situations where they catch an edge, to spot the warning signs, and to recover when they get close to an edge catching. Catching an edge is still an important part of learning to snowboard however, and you are not a real snowboarder until you have had a bad edge catch.
When Can You Catch An Edge?
Catching an edge can happen whenever a snowboard is travelling sideways. It is the sideways component of a snowboarder's velocity that causes an edge catch. This means that catching an edge is possible when the snowboard is travelling completely sideways, or even when it's travelling almost straight along its length with only a small sideways component to it's velocity. It can be either edge that catches, the toe edge or the heel edge, it depends on which way the board is sliding sideways, but it is always the leading edge relative to the snow that catches.
How Does The Edge Catch?
The snow should go under the base of the snowboard before it meets an edge, this makes the snowboard try to travel in the direction of the bottom of the base, and stay on top the snow. If the snow hits an edge before it meets the base, the snow exerts a force on the outside of the edge, which pushes the snowboard into the snow, and stops the board from sliding. This is what happens when an edge catches, stopping the snowboard from sliding any further, and tripping the snowboarder up.
What Happens Once The Edge Is Caught?
The basic concept of catching an edge is the same as tripping over something. The edge is stuck in the snow, but the body's momentum continues to push the snowboarder forwards. The body continues to move forwards but the caught edge anchors the body, making the body rotate downwards, and throwing the snowboarder at the ground, so that they land roughly flat on the snow. There is more than one type of edge catch however, and exactly what happens depends on the speed, height and position of the snowboarder.
The different kinds of edge catch are covered further in the Types of Edge Catch section, but first it is best to understand the different ways in which an edge can catch.
On to the Ways An Edge Can Catch section.