Richie Webb

SBINZ snowboard trainer and ISIA Instructor

Hey there, with over 20 years in the snowboarding realm and 38 seasons under my belt, I’ve turned my passion for snowboarding into a love for teaching and sharing my experiences. Originally from Oxford, UK, the mountains have become my home. Over the years, I've trained upcoming snowboard instructors, guided enthusiasts into the backcountry, and helped countless students of all abilities find their rhythm on the slopes. From the buzz of 90's snowboarding culture in the UK to starting my instructor journey at Mt Hutt, NZ, I've traversed the globe, mastering the art of snowboarding.

Are you new to snowboarding? Fear not! I've honed a simple, effective approach that ensures your first time on a board is as smooth as possible. You'll be surprised by how quickly you’ll pick it up when you're under the right guidance.

Nomadice, set up to offer personalised snowboard instruction, powder tours, and instructor training here in Niseko, Japan. This season, I'm working with Propeak. Each session with me is custom-tailored to your goals, ensuring you elevate your snowboarding skills to the next level.

If you've got any questions feel free to drop me a message.  Let’s shred!

Get to know a bit more about what makes Richie tick...

How long have you been working as a snowboard instructor, and what led you to pursue this profession?

I started snowboarding back in 1996 on the High Wycombe, UK dryslope.  In the 90’s snowboarding was having its moment and was intertwined with the music and cultural buzz in the UK.  There was a TV show called Board Stupid and this really set the tone of doing seasons, wearing the fashion and listening to the music of the 90’s.    

A couple of years later I was out doing my first season working in a hotel kitchen in Val d’Lsere, France.  Another season in Verbier and random trip to Iceland for summer boarding I was soon heading to New Zealand and in 2001 I started as a rookie snowboard instructor in at Mt Hutt, NZ.  This set the tone and I started to move between NZ and resorts in the north hemisphere for the next 16 years.  Since then I have done roughly 38 seasons in various environments, some more alpine than others.  

As someone who is relatively new to snowboarding, I'm curious to know how you approach teaching beginners and what strategies you use to make the learning process enjoyable and effective?

Over the many years I have created a simple method for making the first time on a snowboard painless as possible.  Most guests are surprised to find out how easy it is when in the right lesson.  The two sides of a snowboard require different muscles and balance.  Knowing this means my job is help guests learn from their strong side and balance the confidence so when you come to linking a turn its feels like second nature.  

Managing energy and confidence throughout the first few days means the body doesn’t have to over work and muscles don’t get fatigued as you would trying to teach yourself.

You’re currently based in Niseko teaching, have you had the opportunity to teach snowboarding in different countries or locations? If so, what have been some of your most memorable experiences?

Over the past 20 years I have taught in many different resorts however being from the UK I have also taught in some unusual settings also.  The Oddest place would be a submarine slipway in Chatham.  A temporary slope with fake snow funning down a manmade slope where at the end of which was the estuary.  Probably the best terrain I have ridden is in Verbier, Switzerland.  If I could go anywhere to live and ride I would probably say Crested Butte in Colorado.

Snowboarding can be quite challenging for some people. How do you handle and motivate students who may feel frustrated or discouraged during their lessons?

The fun side of snowboarding makes it easy for the most part, however my job is to notice when someone is lacking confidence or getting frustrated.  There are some simple tricks from how we pace a lesson to ways we can ride alongside a guest to give them just that little boost of confidence.  Timing this so guests realise you are nearby sometimes is what they need.  With the mountains being my home sometimes reminding ourselves that just being on a mountain is already a big leap outside most peoples day-to-days.

Teaching in different parts of the world where the amount of snowfall and terrain vary so much. How do you adapt your teaching style based on the specific snow conditions and environments you encounter?

Probably one of the joys of Niseko is the forgiving nature of the snow.  When teaching in New Zealand you have to manage groups a bit more as it can take a little longer for people to trust their skills when the snow is a firmer.  However with powder snow there are other problems, speed becomes your friend however in powder this can be hard to generate or keep, unlike in NZ where finding speed is easier.  So balancing these differences and adapting lesson content can help guest progress no matter the snow quality or terrain.

Safety is a paramount concern in snowboarding. How do you ensure that your students are well-informed about safety practices and have a safe experience on the slopes?

I take the approach to drip feed safety throughout lessons.  No big info dump but rather showing when there are safety concerns and why its important to learn this in the mountains. Building respect tends to earn respect and if the group has good etiquette on the mountain it fosters others to do so also.

As an experienced snowboard instructor, what are some of the most common mistakes you've observed in beginners, and how do you help them overcome these challenges?

One of the big problems beginners face is their need to know how to stop.  Stopping on a snowboard on the first few days tends to mean sitting down.  So trying to get guests to trust gliding and transitioning from one edge to another is key.  Ideally working towards controlling their speed rather than stopping dead each time.  

You will see beginners and even intermediates using bigger muscles to try and turn their boards, kicking back foot or throwing their arms around to flick the board from one edge to the other.  Essentially snowboarding is about fine muscle movements which is tough when the body is learning something new to them.  However just like a good driver changing gears in a car when it is smooth it feels better for all passengers.

Snowboarding is not only a physical activity but also requires mental focus. How do you help your students build confidence and develop the right mindset to improve their skills on the board?

So true, if anything it is more about the mental processing than the muscle strength of an individual.  With beginners we will use some reverse psychology to tease the brain and accelerate their learning.  This works well as we go slow to start with when all of it is new however once the basics are learned we then can up the learning speed as the brain starts to understand.  We find especially adults want to learn and the brain can understand the instructions yet the body will somehow still fight the movements.  We have little tricks to break these blocks and the plus point these tools are even basic foundations to tricks we use later on in a snowboarders progression.

Since you've been teaching for some time, could you share a heartwarming or funny story from your experiences as a snowboard instructor that made a lasting impression on you?

Probably the best part of teaching snowboarding is the people, do it right and you end up making new friends to ride with.  I have spent great days with kids as young as 4 and adult twins in their early 70’s.  Probably one of my best memories was in Colorado on an earlybird private lesson where you are only a handful of people on the hill.  There was fresh powder snow and I was teaching and father and son.  These lessons were short in length and each day the guests arrived late which was odd.  I asked the son if there was a better time however he let me know his father had cancer and wanted to still get out on his board before the mountain was busy.  This trip was their last before going back home for further treatment.  The father was as keen sailor and on one of our runs I was leading him down a steep face and on our toeside the powder snow was coming up and over our heads, just like you get on a boat.  I turned and rode backwards so I could see the fathers emotion.  The smile on his face made my day if not season.  For that moment nothing else mattered when he was getting face shots on a private slope. 

What sets you apart as a snowboard instructor? Are there any unique teaching techniques or approaches you incorporate into your lessons?

Apart from the years in the game I have also learned in different snowboard associations.  I am qualified as an SBINZ - New Zeland snowboard trainer however over the years I have done training sessions in USA and also gained a certification in Canada also.  My experience training other instructors from systems all over the world means I have had to keep on learning and updating my knowledge to keep current with the way guests are learning on the latest equipment.