free web tracker ...

Snow Sports Merit Badge

snow sports merit badge guide

Snow Sports Merit Badge – For centuries, people in northern countries faced the problem of getting about in deep snow.

Humans needed some means of staying on top of the snow and taking advantage of its slippery qualities, rather than floundering along with maximum exertion and minimum progress. The invention of the ski filled a great need.

Modern skis and ski styles began developing in northern Europe during the 1800s when Sondre Norheim of Norway developed the telemark style of turning with skis that used a free heel binding system such as that used in modern cross country skis.

The Alpine, or downhill, skiing style was developed in the 1880s, using a toe-and-heel binding piece similar to what is used in downhill skiing today.

These 19th-century skis were long and cambered, or curved, to support the weight of a skier on any but the softest snow. They also were slippery enough that a skier could glide down mountainsides and along with flat places.

Scandinavian settlers who came to North America late in the 19th century brought skiing with them and taught others how to enjoy it.

Snowboards did not come along until the 1960s, when Sherman Poppen, a skier from Michigan, invented the Snurfer. He built this early snowboard as a toy for his daughter.

It looked like a cross between a plywood sled and a skateboard deck and was sold in toy stores. Poppen organized some early competitions on the Snurfer, but it was not until the 1980s that the Snurfer evolved into a modern-day snowboard.

Skiing and snowboarding remain the fastest and most thrilling ways to travel on foot in snow country.

These sports also provide the physical benefits of fresh air, rhythmic action, and strenuous exercise. Many games and contests give snow sports variety and added rewards.

snow sports competition

Snow Sports Merit Badge Requirement

  1. Do the following:
    • Explain to your counselor the hazards you are most likely to encounter while participating in snow sports activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
    • Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in snow sports, including hypothermia, frostbite, shock, dehydration, sunburn, fractures, bruises, sprains, and strains. Tell me how to apply splints.
  2. Do the following:
    • Explain why every snow sport participant should be prepared to render first aid in the event of an accident.
    • Explain the procedure used to report an accident to the local ski patrol for the area where you usually ski, ride, or snowshoe.
  3. Explain the international trail marking system.
  4. Discuss the importance of strength, endurance, and flexibility in snow sports. Demonstrate exercises and activities you can do to get fit for the option you choose in requirement 7.
  5. Present yourself properly clothed and equipped for the option you choose in requirement 7. Discuss how the clothing you have chosen will help keep you warm and protected.
  6. Do EACH of the following:
    • Tell the meaning of the Your Responsibility Code for skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers. Explain why each rider must follow this code.
    • Explain the Smart Style safety program. Tell why it is important and how it applies to participants at snow sport venues in terrain parks and pipes.
    • Explain the precautions pertaining to avalanche safety, including the responsibility of individuals regarding avalanche safety.
    • Tell the meaning of the Wilderness Use Policy. Explain why each skier and snowboarder must adopt this policy.
  7. Complete ALL of the requirements for ONE of the following options: downhill (Alpine) skiing or cross-country (Nordic) or snowboarding OR snowshoeing.

Downhill (Alpine) Skiing

  1. Show how to use and maintain your own release bindings and explain the use of two others. Explain the international DIN standard and what it means to skiers.
  2. Explain the American Teaching System and a basic snow-skiing progression.
  3. Discuss the five types of Alpine skis. Demonstrate two ways to carry skis and poles safely and easily.
  4. Demonstrate how to ride one kind of lift and explain how to ride two others.
  5. On a gentle slope, demonstrate some of the beginning maneuvers learned in skiing. Include the straight run, gliding wedge, wedge stop, sidestep, and herringbone maneuvers.
  6. On slightly steeper terrain, show linked wedge turns.
  7. On a moderate slope, demonstrate five to 10 christies.
  8. Make a controlled run down an intermediate slope and demonstrate the following:
    • Short-, medium-, and long-radius parallel turns
    • A sideslip and safety (hockey) stop to each side
    • Traverse across a slope
  9. Demonstrate the ability to ski in varied conditions, including changes in pitch, snow conditions, and moguls. Maintain your balance and ability to turn.
  10. Name the major ski organizations in the United States and explain their functions.

Cross-Country (Nordic) Skiing

  1. Show your ability to select, use, and repair, if necessary, the correct equipment for ski touring in safety and comfort.
  2. Discuss classical and telemark skis. Demonstrate two ways to carry skis and poles safely and easily.
  3. Discuss the basic principles of waxing for cross-country ski touring.
  4. Discuss the differences between cross-country skiing, ski touring, ski mountaineering, and downhill skiing.
  5. List the items you would take on a one-day ski tour.
  6. Demonstrate the proper use of a topographic map and compass.
  7. On a gentle, packed slope, show some basic ways to control speed and direction. Include the straight run, traverse, side slip, step turn, wedge stop, and wedge turn maneuvers.
  8. On a cross-country trail, demonstrate effective propulsion by showing proper weight transfer from ski to ski, pole timing, rhythm, flow, and glide.
  9. Demonstrate your ability, on a tour, to cope with an average variety of snow conditions.
  10. Demonstrate several methods of dealing with steep hills or difficult conditions. Include traverses and kick turns going uphill and downhill, sidesteps, pole drag, and ski-pole “glissade.”


  1. Discuss forward-fall injuries.
  2. Show your ability to select the correct equipment for snowboarding and to use it for safety and comfort.
  3. Show how to use and maintain your own bindings, and explain the use of the different binding methods. Explain the need for leashes.
  4. Discuss the four types of snowboards. Demonstrate how to carry a snowboard easily and safely.
  5. Demonstrate how to ride one kind of lift and explain how to ride two others.
  6. Demonstrate the basic principles of waxing a snowboard.
  7. Do the following:
    • On a gentle slope, demonstrate beginning snowboarding maneuvers. Show basic ways to control speed and direction. Include the side slipping maneuver.
    • On slightly steeper terrain, show traversing.
  8. On a moderate slope, demonstrate an ollie, a nose-end grab, and a wheelie.
  9. Make a controlled run down an intermediate slope and demonstrate the following:
    • Skidded, carved, and jump turns
    • Stops
    • Riding fakie
  10. Demonstrate your ability to ride in varied conditions, including changes in pitch, snow conditions, and moguls. Maintain your balance and ability to turn.
  11. Name the major snowboarding organizations in the United States and explain their functions.


  1. Name the parts of a snowshoe.
  2. Explain how to choose the correct size of snowshoe.
  3. Describe the different types of snowshoes and their specialized uses. Discuss factors to consider when choosing a snowshoe.
  4. Explain how to properly care for and maintain snowshoes.
  5. Describe how to make an emergency snowshoe.
  6. Describe areas that are best for snowshoeing. Discuss some advantages and dangers of backcountry snowshoeing.
  7. Discuss the benefits of snowshoeing.
  8. Demonstrate the most efficient ways to break trail, climb uphill, travel downhill and traverse a slope.
  9. Take a two-mile snowshoe hike with a buddy or your troop.
  10. Demonstrate your ability, on a hike, to cope with an average variety of snow conditions.

Getting Ready to Go

Your experience in the snow will be less enjoyable if you head out on an outing without proper clothing or if your level of fitness is not up to the cardiovascular demands of your sport.

In addition, you need to familiarize yourself with the use of ski-area equipment and accepted etiquette.

Snowboarding gloves and mittens often have a reinforced palm to stand up to the wear caused by balancing on the snow. Some also have built-in wrist guards.

1. Dressing for Success and Safety

Dress in layers when you go out skiing or riding. Your first layer should consist of a polypropylene shirt and pants or long thermal underwear made of a fiber such as polyester that will wick moisture away from your body.

For the second layer, wear a lightweight wool sweater or fleece pullover and pants. Your top layer should consist of water-resistant pants and a jacket to protect you from snow, sleet, or rain and to block the wind.

It is a good idea to wear a longer jacket that comes down over your waist to keep snow out of your pants. Overall-style pants are another option for keeping snow out from around the waist. Choose gloves or mittens made of waterproof but breathable fabrics.

Thermal socks will help keep your feet toasty. Socks designed specifically for snowboarding, Alpine skiing, or cross-country skiing are available and maybe a good investment to make.

Cold or blistered feet are a sure way to kill the enjoyment of a day out in the snow.

Headgear. Alpine skiers and snowboarders should wear a helmet to protect the head and for warmth. Nordic skiers should wear a hat for warmth and carry a fleece neck gaiter or face mask to protect the face when it is really cold.
Eye Protection. Snowboarders and Alpine skiers should wear goggles to protect the eyes from the wind and from harmful solar radiation, and to keep ice pellets or snow from irritating the eyes. Be careful when choosing eyewear. Select goggles that allow an appropriate range of peripheral vision. Look for wide-angle frames or sport shields. For Nordic skiers, sunglasses or double-lens goggles are a good choice because they do not fog up easily.
Dressing for safety

2. Getting Fit

To enjoy snow sports, you must be in good physical condition. You need strength, endurance, and flexibility-strength for the muscular power needed, endurance for the stamina to enjoy a full day of skiing or riding, and flexibility for a complete range of movement and to prevent injury.

3. Warming up

A good warm-up can mean the difference between a great expe. rience on the snow and a trip to the emergency room with a torn muscle or something more serious. Be sure to take the time to prepare your body for the sport.

Start your warm-up with some activity to get your muscles ready, such as jogging briefly. Then perform these stretches, holding each one a minimum of 30 seconds up to two minutes.

Calf stretch. Use a wall or something solid to lean into, one leg forward and one leg back. Keep the back leg straight and push into the wall until you can feel the calf stretch. Repeat, reversing the front and back legs.
Quadriceps (“quad”) stretch. Stand next to a wall in case you need support. Pull one foot up behind yourself until you can feel tightness in the quad muscle. Repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring stretch. While standing, bend from the waist with your legs straight. Stretch your hands toward the ground until you feel the back of your legs stretching. Work toward placing your palms flat on the ground.
Lower backstretch. Sitting on the ground, cross one leg over the other knee and place that foot flat on the ground. Rotate the torso toward the bent leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Warming up

4. Trail Marking

source :

Another thing skiers and snowboarders need to become familiar with is the international trail marking system.

This system has been designed to help skiers and riders identify the trails best suited to their level of ability as well as hazards within a ski area. The signs are there for everyone’s safety and should always be followed.

Each ski area determines whether a trail is a green circle (beginner), blue square (intermediate), black diamond (advanced), or double black diamond (very advanced) slope. Nordic trails often use this system as well.

Terrain parks use an “orange pill” to identify terrain features. There may or may not be ratings to indicate difficulty.

5. Skiing and Riding Etiquette

source :

Skiing and snowboarding are popular sports, so ski areas and trails can become crowded, especially after a fresh snowfall. To ensure that everyone out on the slopes and trails has an enjoyable and safe experience, it is important to follow certain rules.

1. Stay on designated trails. Trails are laid out for skiers and boarders’ safety and convenience. Leaving the trail might cause you to encounter unknown hazards and become lost.

If you are a Nordic skier and the trail is one-way, be sure to ski in the proper direction. If a trail has two sets of tracks, ski the set of tracks on the right side.
2. Take care when passing. If you are attempting to pass a slower downhill skier or snowboarder, it is your responsibility to see that you do not collide with the person. Snowboarders or skiers who are below you always have the right-of-way.

Yield when passing, and when on narrow trails, call out “left” or “right” to indicate on which side you will pass. If you are cross-country skiing, pass a slower skier on the flat. Call “track!” before you pass. The slower skier should yield by stepping to the right out of the track.
3. Never obstruct other skiers or riders. Do not stop in the middle of the trail or run. If you need to rest or regroup, make sure you are out of the way of others. Do not descend a hill until other skiers are out of your path.
4. Check-in and out at ski centers. Ski area personnel often spend time searching for skiers or boarders who failed to sign out upon returning.
5. Use caution in crowded areas. Slow down and be prepared to stop when you enter a heavily populated area.
Skiing and Riding Etiquette


source :

Alpine skiers and snowboarders need to learn to use ski lifts to get to the top of a hill. Ski lifts include surface lifts such as rope and handle tows, T-bars, and platter lifts.

Surface lifts are used on short, gentle slopes that beginners use when they are learning basic skills. Chairlifts and enclosed gondolas, or trams, are common at snow resorts.

When you use surface lifts and aerial chairlifts you may keep your skis on or your front foot attached to your snowboard. When riding in an enclosed gondola, however, you will need to remove your skis or snowboard.

1. Rope and Handle Tows

To use a rope tow, reach out in front of you to grab the rope or handle. If you are a snowboarder and your back is facing the rope tow, reach over the tip of your board to grab the rope.

If you are using a handle tow, you might want to grab the cable between the handles to start so that you do not get pulled off your feet initially. Let the rope or cable run through your hands briefly and then grasp it more tightly.

Once you start moving, grip the rope firmly so it does not slide through your hands. At the top, be prepared to move away from the tow to clear the unloading area.

2. T-Bar Lifts

A T-bar lift is a rotating lift that is designed to handle two people. To grab the bar, flex your knees slightly but do not try to sit down or lean back.

Stay erect. When you reach the top, the second person off should gently release the T-bar. Quickly move away from the unloading area.

3. Platter Lifts

Platter lifts (also called Poma lifts) are similar to T-bar lifts, but they have a disk that can be grabbed with the hands or placed between the legs. When you use your hands, you get more control and shock absorption-a real advantage if you are a beginner skier.

To grab the platter with your hands, bend your elbows fully and lean back a little so that you can absorb the shock when the cable finishes running out and starts to pull you up the hill. If your arms get tired, try sticking the platter under your armpit.

When you reach the top, release the platter gently and quickly move away from the unloading area.

4. Chairlifts

To take a chairlift, get in line and watch for the chair to come up behind you. Once in the chair, distribute your weight evenly and lower the safety bar.

Do not bounce or swing the chair. To exit, move to the edge of the chair and get your weight forward on the chair. Lift the bar, position your weight over both feet, and stand up.

If you are on a snowboard, immediately put your free foot on the stomp pad between the bindings. Do not let your rear foot drag in the snow.

Once off the lift, both skiers and snow. borders should focus on balancing and getting to the bottom of the ramp under control. Then, move away from the unloading traffic as quickly as possible.

Snow Conditions

Snow conditions vary from outing to outing. They may even change during an outing, for example, if the temperature rises and the snow starts to melt.

Because the condition of the snow can affect your ability to maintain control, it pays to become familiar with various snow conditions and understand how your equipment is likely to respond. Snow conditions you may encounter include the following:

Powder is soft, freshly fallen snow.
The crust is a powder that has an icy, crust-like surface. Crust often forms when the sun melts the top layer of snow and then the temperature drops, refreezing the melted layer.
Slush is snow that has started to melt and has a high water content.
Ice is snow that has melted and refrozen a number of times and has become compacted, hard, and slippery.
Snow Conditions

You can make adjustments to the way you ski or ride to accommodate different types of snow.

For example, when skiing or riding powder, be sure to keep your weight evenly balanced to keep from sinking. You may find that crust and slush make turns more difficult to execute and control.

Ice is the most difficult type of snow to contend with because of its excessive slipperiness. Your instructor can give you specific tips for coping with various snow conditions.

Also Read : Weather Merit Badge


Many snowboarders have backgrounds in sports such as skateboarding, skiing, surfing, and wakeboarding (a relatively new board sport that combines skills used in waterskiing, snowboarding, and surfing). Some skills acquired in those sports

can be helpful when learning how to snowboard. Most places that offer ski instruction offer beginner courses in snowboarding.

Just a few hours of instruction from a certified snowboard instructor will put you well on your way to a safe and enjoyable experience. Instructional videos also are a useful addition to instruction.

1. Snowboarding Equipment

To begin snowboarding, you will need boots, bindings, a helmet, a snowboard, and a leash to prevent the hazard of a runaway board.

You can rent equipment by the day or week, lease it for an entire season, buy used equipment at a local shop or snowboard swap, or buy new equipment.

Buying used equipment that is more than a couple of years old may not be a good idea, since snowboarding technology changes rapidly.

However, because rental fees can quickly add up, you may want to buy your own gear if you plan to snowboard at least 15 days a year.

If possible, first rent the equipment you want to buy to find out if it suits your needs. A certified snowboard instructor or knowledgeable salesperson should be able to help you find equipment that is right for you.

A snowboard has the following parts:

  • Nose (or tip)-the front part of the snowboard. It is rounded and upturned to push snow under the board and reduce friction.
  • Tail-the rear part of the snowboard.
  • The waist-the middle section of the board. Its width should be equal to the length of your foot.
  • Toeside edge-the edge of the snowboard on the same side as your toes. It is used for making toe side (front side) turns and traversing.
  • Heelside edge-the edge of the board on the same side as your heels. It is used for making the heel side (backside) turns and for traversing.
  • Bindings-the fasteners that hold your boots to the board.
  • Leash-a straps around the leg or attached to the boot to prevent a runaway board.
  • Stomp pada pad that provides friction for your back foot when you are riding with the back foot lose.

2. Types of Snowboards

The following information will help you determine which board is appropriate for your skill level and the style of riding you plan to do.

Snowboard lengths are measured in centimeters. The length of your board will depend on your height, weight, riding style, and ability.

1. Twin boards have twin tips the nose and tail are identical, blunt shape suitable for riding forward or backward, jumping, and doing complicated spins and tricks. These are popular for riding terrain parks and pipes as well as for mountain freestyle-type riding.
2. Directional boards have a directional shape with a stiffer tail and a longer tip for better flotation in chopped-up snow. They also have a directional sidecut, which means that the waist is set slightly closer to the tail than the tip. The most common type of board, directional boards can be ridden both forward and fakie (switch) but are designed to turn differently ridden forward than they do fakie.
3. Specialty boards are intended for very specific purposes such as park riding, pipe riding, rails, powder riding, and backcountry travel. While these boards can be a great addition, they are not a good choice for a beginner.
4. Free Carving/Alpine boards are stiff and narrow. With a curved nose and a squared or asymmetrical tail, an Alpine board is built to hold an edge at high speed. Such boards are used by racers or by riders who want to go really fast and lay down inch-deep tracks on hardpack or groomed snow. Alpine boards generally are not suited for doing tricks or for all-around riding and are not recommended for beginners.
Types of Snowboards

3. Boots

Snowboarding boots come in three types: soft, step-in, and hard. Soft boots are by far the most popular of the three and offer the most flexibility in the type of riding you can do.

In general, soft boots have two parts-an inner bladder and an outer boot. The inner bladder keeps your feet warm and dry and puts some padding between your feet and the bindings.

The outer boot has deeply treaded soles that seat firmly in the base of highback bindings and a supportive, flexible upper that allows plenty of ankle movement.

Soft boots are comfortable and compatible with the most common bindings. They also allow flexibility for freestyle maneuvers and can be used for other outdoor activities such as hiking in snow or backcountry snowboarding.

Step-in boots must be used with the corresponding step-in binding. A step-in boot is similar to a soft boot, but it has an interface on its sole that connects with the bindings. Therefore, there is no need for straps on the bindings.

Some riders prefer the freedom of being able to step into their binding as opposed to having to attach straps.

Hard boots (also called Alpine boots) have sturdy plastic shells that close around the thick inner boot with buckles or ratchet nails.

In addition to having stiffer uppers than most soft boots, hard boots have stiffer soles to ensure that they will hold firmly to plate bindings without bending and popping free.

Hard boots are generally used for racing or free carving on specific snowboards. If you are just learning how to ride, soft or step-in boots are probably the best choice.

Also Read : Sports Merit Badge

4. Bindings

Bindings fasten your boots to your snowboard. Unlike ski bindings, snowboard bindings are designed not to release when you fall. Three major types of bindings are strap, step-in, and plate bindings.

Make sure your bindings are compatible with your board and boots and with the style of riding you plan to do.

Strap bindings. Strap bindings clamp soft boots to the board with two buckled straps and are by far the most popular bindings. Basically, the boots fit in a contoured baseplate and are held there by the straps. These straps buckle tightly with ratchets that grab notches into the straps themselves.

While the straps hold the feet down, a vertical plastic plate called a highback rises behind the ankles and lower calves. Strap bindings vary in height, shape, and hole patterns in the base plate. Taller, stiffer, and more cup-shaped highbacks give riders greater leverage on the board and can improve heelside edge control.
Step-in bindings. Step-in bindings eliminate the need for straps on the binding. There is an interface with the binding that connects with the boot to lock the boot onto the board. Step-in bindings may or may not have a highback. There are many different types of interfaces available, so make sure that your boots and bindings are compatible.
Plate bindings. Plate bindings lock hard boots securely to the board. They consist of a sturdy base plate and a heel or toe lever. When a boot is put into the binding, bails reach up and grab the boot’s heel and toe protrusions. Flipping the heel or toe lever upward locks the bails in place.
Types of Bindings
I'm a Mechanical Engineer and lifelong Eagle Scout. My passion for scouting guides my writing, aiming to inspire fellow Scouts on their path. Thanks for reading, and best wishes on your journey to Eagle!