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by Tyler Barnes photos by Matt Aimonetti (link to Matt’s website)
If you’re like me you get the typical question from beginners and intermediate students, “What do I do with these things?” as they hold their poles awkwardly. Entry level and even seasoned instructors might tend to answer with “You plant your pole, then turn around it” or “They’re used for timing and balance” or “The pole swing draws you into the turn.” These answers are sometimes followed by a series of leading nods of reassurance by the instructor.
The first answer, if acted upon throughout your skiing career is “cause for concern.” The second answer is true but requires a full explanation, not just the instructor’s confident tone and encouraging nodding to impart the true meaning. And the third answer, while I admit is true, many instructors do not completely understand the mechanics of the statement or how to implement its meaning.
The next time you are faced with this question, or secretly ask the question to yourself (it’s OK, I ask myself these questions all the time), here’s the inside scoop. Recall Kate Morrell’s popular alpine tip “Get a Grip to Rip” in the Winter 2009 Issue of the NW Snowsports Instructor; her emphasis was on holding the pole firmly on the grip.
I have three truths in pole use that build upon and help clarify things:
Now if you are paying close attention to these truths about pole use I am professing you might already find some holes depending on turn shape, breaking versus gliding, deep powder or bumps. Indeed I agree, however if you apply these truths on groomed snow during a series of gliding turns where speed control is maintained by turn shape, these “truths” would stand up to Perry Mason’s scrutiny.
The pole tip touches the snow in a very specific area called the “touch zone” which depends on your intended turn outcome like a medium radius, gliding short radius or breaking turn. But where is this precise area? Let’s define it.
While standing in your skis on the snow on flat terrain, visually approximate the distance from the toe of your ski boot to the tip of you ski. Now, from the toe of your ski boot, draw a line perpendicular to the ski this same distance – let’s call this Length A (See figure A). Next scribe an arc from the ski tip to this perpendicular line with an equal radius to Length A. If you were to continue this arc you would scribe a complete circle. Next bisect this quarter circle into 2 equal parts: the green area in Figure A is The Touch Zone; The red area is The No Touch Zone.
Now that we have some precise zones defined with some appropriate names, let’s start using them. In medium and short radius turns the pole touch occurs in the touch zone. In medium and long radius turn the pole touch happens in the no touch zone. Wait a second, the name of this zone is “the no touch zone” so if you think you might want to touch the pole in the no touch zone, don’t do it. Swinging the pole into the “no touch zone” is OK, but only if you swing your pole as described in Truth #3. In medium to long radius turns, the pole swing is still very important as it facilitates movement into the future, however the pole touch in these turn sizes can potentially disrupt flow, so it’s optional.
In medium radius turns, constrained to the 1-1/2 to 3 packer widths (as described in the PSIA-NW Certification Guide), the pole touch would ideally occur in the touch zone, but closer to the boundary with the no touch zone. In gliding short radius turns, 3/4 to 1 packer widths the pole touch would typically occur more in the middle of the touch zone while in short braking turns, in 1/2 to 3/4 packer widths, the pole touch would occur furthest from the no touch zone boundary.
There will be variations in the distance away from the skis’ edges while staying within the touch zone depending on the steepness of the terrain and the type of turn being made.
Now that you know where to touch the pole, getting there is the next step. Maintain a consistent distance of the pole tip off the snow surface during the swing as you target the touch zone. If the relationship of the pole tip to the snow surface varies greatly during the swing, this could be a visual indicator of a variety of causes like whole-body inclination late in the turn or there is an involuntary upper body rotation caused by the pole touch target and the mechanics of the arm and upper body with respect to the pole swing itself.
Maintaining a consistent relationship of the pole tip to the snow surface during the swing will require the CM to move in the intended direction of travel earlier in the turn, facilitating both progressive de-edging and de-angulation movements. However, in order to achieve these effective movements, you also have to employ Truth #3.
OK, in reality the tip can, and sometimes does, pass the grip in a gliding turn, but this should only be a slight amount and is relative to the line of action. It sounds better to say “at all times” so the statement sounds strong and emphatic.
For an effective pole swing to facilitate movement of your CM in the intended direction of travel requires just that: movement of the CM. As Kate mentioned, swinging the pole tip out in front or down the hill may or may not help movement. However, if you grip the pole firmly and keep the pole grip ahead of the tip as you swing, while targeting the touch zone you will feel your CM moving. The key to success in Truth #3 is to focus on constant and continuous movement of both pole grips and tips.
Side note: In a braking turn the pole plant is intended to help stabilize the CM, so the tip can and typically does come forward of the grip, then the grip passes the tip as the edges are released and the CM moves into the turn.
Referring to my Visual Cues to Effective Skiing Pocket Guide and/or the PSIA-NW Certification Guide there are three cues that jump right out:
Let’s look a few skiers. In Example 1 you can see relative to the three truths the pole swing is targeting into the no touch zone, the pole tip is well ahead of the pole grip and the pole tip has likely been swung to its highest point and will be lowered to the snow to make the pole touch. Referencing the Visual Cues you will observe the outside half of the body is leading, and the inside elbow is back symptomatic of undesirable upper body rotation with the CM “back and inside.”
In Example 2 skier, the pole swing target is closer to ideal but the pole tip is well ahead of the pole grip with essentially no movement of the CM in the intended direction of travel at this moment.
In Example 3, you can see that the pole grips are ahead of the tips, the pole swing will likely be in the touch zone, and the inside half of the body is leading the outside with the hands and elbows ahead of the torso.
The key to successfully implementing “the truths” one must also stabilize the torso through muscular tension and awareness. Gripping the pole firmly while actively engaging muscles in the hand, fore arm and biceps, is a good start. Continue this muscle activation through the upper torso connecting both arms across the pectoral muscles in your upper chest, and the Erector Spinae muscle group, which is on either side of your spine in your upper back. Without this muscle chain activated the tendency is to see the pole swing isolated to the arm and/or promotes upper body rotation. When these muscles are activated you will feel a bit “stiff” at first, but just like novice skiers feel tense on day-one, you will begin to understand how much muscle tension is functional the more you activate these muscles.
The ability to swing the pole into the touch zone, while implementing truths 2 & 3, requires movement of the lower body to reach the touch zone. You must combine ankle dorsiflexion, knee extension with complementary hip extension, or flexion, dependent on desired turn outcomes, as to allow your torso (and CM) to move forward, so in turn, you can touch the pole in the touch zone. Yes, that’s right! You use coordinated movements of the ankles, knees and hip joints to touch your pole, not your arms! Who would have thought?
Timing of the coordinated movements to maintain “the truths” is also critical, which I have specifically excluded. If you implement these truths while linking turns, the timing nearly takes care of itself, primarily because the pole swing and touch are an integral part of linking turns, not just the punctuation of a single turn.
Successfully implementing the truths requires concentration, practice and discipline. These are old concepts, heard time and time again, packaged a little differently in the Touch Zone. And remember if it doesn’t feel weird you’re not doing it! For more information also check out ”Look to the Poles for a Change of Direction” in the Winter 2006 Issue of The Professional Skier by Harvey and Fry to further anchor some of these concepts.
In the Winter 2009 issue of the NW Snowsports Instructor there was a featured article and a Snow Pro Tip that jumped out at me: “It’s Counter to be Square” by John May and “When it Comes to Your Pole, Get a Grip” by Kate Morrell.
The old saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” which loosely means that the true value or quality of a thing can only be judged when it is put to use. But first the proof, then the pudding.
In case there are any non-believers still out there, I present the following proof of May and Morrell’s concepts for your review. WARNING! Do not try this on the hill. This is only a proof.
At Fall Training at Timberline in November 2009, we were introduced to a theme for the season: Stance, Alignment, Movement and Flow. In John May’s article he presented a clear description of an aligned stance and made a compelling argument as to why it would be beneficial for alpine skiers to use his concepts. In Kate Morrell’s Snow Pro Tip she presented a task and method to facilitate movement of your center of mass forward in the intended direction of travel.
You’ll often hear the catch-all answer to most ski-related questions that seek a definitive answer; “Well, it depends.” For those of you who grew up skiing with John Mohan, you’ll know exactly what I mean. So, here’s the question, “How much counter does a turn require?”
Often you’ll hear from someone who knows something about skiing that shorter radius turns need more counter and longer radius turns need less counter. The following is a graphical explanation of why counter changes with turn shape and speed, how counter relates to movement in the direction of the new turn and explains why you should put all of this information to use immediately. Like, right now!
Let’s assume that our desired outcome is flowing from turn to turn and that it is a good thing when skiing down the hill. Let’s also assume that flow means the coordinated movements of our bodies relative to our skis, with few, if any, major rebalancing or erratic movements to change direction and continue down the hill.
In the purest sense of these terms as goals, to achieve this we need to align our center of mass over our point of contact in such a way as to direct balance to the outside ski and resist all of the external forces pushing and pulling on us. In other words: We need to keep our feet between us and the snow, and not fall down.
As an aside, I use the words “over” and “under” in a frame of reference where my ski edges are always “down” and my center of mass is always “up.”
So, what does all of that have to do with “counter, square and getting a grip?” Everything. But it’s actually quite simple: you just have to be moving in the right direction. Let’s start with the picture of Kate “ripping” (see Figure 1) from her Snow Pro Tip (Winter 2009 NW Snowsports Instructor, page 13). Kate appears to be balancing over her outside ski, roughly in the middle of a turn, in the fall line and, if I know Kate, skiing fast. Let’s assume she is modeling good skiing – umm … yes, definitely! Let’s now go ahead and make some basic calculations based on a few more assumptions and determine how far to the inside her center of mass is from her outside edge in this photo.
First, how tall is Kate? I could measure her, but I just asked her. She is five-feet five-inches tall or 65 inches or 165cm. Note: 1 inch = 2.54 cm. OK, let’s draw some lines (see Figure 1).
The orange line [c] extends from her Point of Contact (PC) on the snow, which is the inside edge of her outside ski, up her outside leg to a point just slightly above the center of her pelvis, which we can use as a rough estimate for her Center of Mass (CM), indicated by the white circle. Note: The center of mass is actually a single point, but by using the circle target area allows you to visually approximate the center of mass in Kate and other skiers as well. The orange line continues from her CM to her shoulders [d] then to the top of her head [e]. The blue line [b] extends horizontally from her outside ski edge under her boot to the point under her hips that aligns vertically with the point used for her center of mass [a]. These two line segments intersect at 90 degrees.
Measure the distance from her feet horizontally to the point vertically under her center of mass [b]. Now measure the combined length of the lines drawn from her feet to the top of her head [ c+d+e ], the sum of the orange lines.
In this drawing the measurements are shown in centimeters. I originally measured this drawing at twice this size, then when placed into this publication it was scaled by 50% the original size. You can measure this drawing yourself, but bear in mind that the measurements are a scale factor of the original larger version, so your measurements might be less accurate. You can use the Pythagorean Theorem from 9th grade geometry [ a2 + b2 = c2 ] to verify the lengths (Equation 1).
Now divide the horizontal distance her CM is from her feet (b); the length of the blue line by her total height (sum of c, d and e). The result is a 0.50 – let’s call this “k” (see Equation 2), where k represents the ratio of line b to the sum of c, d, and e. In other words: In this picture, line b is about half as long as c + d + e.
If I now multiply her real height (165cm) by 0.50 (k) I get 82.5cm or 32.5 inches. This is a reasonable estimate of how far inside her hips are from her outside ski. For you literalists out there, yes, there is some measurement error in using this picture in this fashion. Her leg is slightly flexed as are the other joints in her body. But, remember that any change in her measured height results in half of that change to how far her CM is away from her outside ski. In reality, the error may be a few inches and compared to the size of the turn, for example: a 15 meter turn (49.2 feet), a few inches is immaterial.
Now let’s figure out where she needs to direct her movements in relation to her skis to achieve the alignment shown in Figure 1. First, a few more assumptions to help visually show our answers: Assume that we always finish our turns completely across the hill or skis perpendicular to the fall line. Note this amount of turn completion is not very common as we tend to not actually bring our skis completely perpendicular to the fall line, but this is an “assumption” for making these calculations. Assume that we wish to directly move our center of mass from the inside of one turn, through the transition and into the inside of the next turn, while continuing to direct pressure to the outside ski.
In Figure 3, from a bird’s-eye-view, the black line represents the path of our skis and the red line represents the path of our center of mass from one turn through the transition and into the next turn. The red line also represents the direction that our hips should be facing to facilitate the directed movement into the next turn. The angle between these two lines represents how much our legs must turn past our upper body to develop the counter needed for the next turn.
In Figure 4, the black line again represents the path of our skis and the orange line represents the path of our center of mass from one turn through the transition and into the next turn. The turn radius is 40’ and the offset from skis to center of mass is 32.5”. Using a computer-aided design and drawing (CADD) program, the angle from our skis that we would need to move our center of mass in the direction of the new turn to end up looking like Kate above is about 26°.
Let’s think about this for a second. In a high-speed turn Kate’s center of mass is about 32 inches inside of her outside ski. If she was “channeling” Lindsey Vonn and had her hip on the snow, she could only get maybe 39” of separation. As I mentioned earlier, in that 30’ turn, a 6-inch difference is very small and would only make an extremely small change in that angle.
So it seems the skier height has little effect on the direction the hips should be facing, the direction the center of mass needs to move at the beginning of the turn and ultimately the amount of counter needed.
In Figure 5 the black line is again the path of our skis and the orange line is now the path of our center of mass (CM) through the turn. The right side of the graphic, with the 2-ft offset from CM to skis, represents skiing at a moderate speed and/or with less edge angle. The left side, with the 3-ft offset from CM to skis, represents faster skiing with a higher edge angle. As you can see, the slower the speed for a given radius, the less counter we need to align our hips and movements into the new turn and the larger the radius, the less counter we need to align our hips and movements into the new turn.
To calculate the change in counter for a change in radius I assume that our center of mass moves from the inside arc, through the transition and onto the inside arc of the following turn in a straight line. In geometric terms the line that the CM travels is tangent to the inside arcs and passes through the point of inflection between the two turns.
The easy way to say this is to take a ruler and draw a line from just touching one inside arc to the next while passing through the transition point of the skis between the turns. There is only one line that will fit those criteria.
Now if you look at Figure 6 it looks like the skis take an S-shaped path between turns. Often I describe this as how your skis get from one side of your body to the other. This is how we ski into and out of a countered relationship; by turning our legs to shape the turn while our body seeks the path the CM should follow. The opposite is shown when a skier aligns to the path of the skis, then realigns to the path of the CM.
Does this mean that we all need to carry protractors with us on the hill and calculate every turn? NO! What this does mean is that as turn radius and speed change so does the amount of counter that is needed in our hips for us to align our movements into the next turn.
I hope that this information has helped to explain why radius and speed affect the amount of counter needed to align your center of mass over your outside foot and cleanly move from turn to turn.
Many thanks to Steve Olwin, Marty O’Connor, John May, Tyler Barnes and Rick Lyons in reviewing this article, helping me formulate the content and convey these concepts.
Be sure to let me know how the pudding is![connections_list id=10 template_name=’div_staff’]
by Chris Hargrave, originally published in the Winter 2009 Issue of the NW Snowsports Instructor
One of the greatest challenges in snowboarding is the ability to bend the nose and tail at will in dynamic sliding environments. Skillful controlled riding should be supported by the ability to bend the nose, center, and tail of the board to varying degrees as desired by the rider and demanded by terrain and speed. As riders grow in experience all kinds of compensatory habits are created to cover up inabilities or weaknesses in the fore/aft or foot-to-foot range of motion.
While watching riders in tough terrain full of transitions and undulations it becomes clear that reactive and recovery riding is a dominant trend. Working toward proactive and accurate management of the nose, center, and tail flex of the board through the independent action of the joints of the legs is critical to unlocking new lines and greater control.
Think about how many times you’ve been loaded up and tossed in the moguls, kicked toward your tail off a quick transitioned jump, felt that skid in a carved turn, pivoted more than you might like in your short turns, or felt awkward trying to ollie at speed. Each of these symptoms can be caused by inaccurate application or control of the foot-to-foot range.
Why is it so hard to bend and pressure the nose when sliding? No time spent developing strength and balance over the movements that bend and press the nose (see figure 1).
Why do riders spend so much time battling the tail load? Progressing in riding without developing strength in fore movements will lead to fear and apprehension as the terrain gets more intense and will cause movement restrictions.
What is the key to working the board through and from the center? Strengthening and developing the entire rage of motion through the extremes to create freedom and understanding of what the moves feel like and how to control them.
Riders spend hours in clinics trying to analyze these challenges in riding and try tweaking a little thing here or there. If the range has not been developed then riders are only ready, from a strength and muscle memory perspective, to achieve small bits of success and slightly better feelings. Tweaking riding problems in dynamic sliding environments without the foundations to support the changes can often be an unsuccessful approach to treating the symptoms.
Treating the cause is the answer and it’s so simple that it’s easy to miss. Riders must do the hard work to build a foundation of support to enable strong movements in dynamic terrain settings. How much time do riders spend focused on building their balance, strength, agility, and stamina in the foot-to-foot range? Answering this question is easy just take moment to watch the overall picture and style of a few riders on any mountain. It’s common to see choppy-jerky-awkward movements in riders who haven’t built up the range and smooth-fluid-sweet style in those who have.
When most riders start out they are focused on going, shredding, killing it, having fun freely cruising and flowing turns top to bottom. What that really means is we learn to turn first at any cost then build our ability to create accurate-smooth-styley movements while turning much later in the process. Once a rider is given the keys to the mountain (skidding, traversing, and linked turns) they are off exploring and that’s a great thing. However when riders truly want to progress sometimes the best thing to do is go back to basics and build awareness and control of movements through all their ranges of motion.
Building strength in the ranges of motion and very specifically in the foot-to-foot range is so critical to dynamic growth. So often riders come to exams with a very limited ability to work the foot-to-foot range and they struggle with many of the key skills and demos that we look for. Dynamic skidded turns, bumps, ollies, pipe, switch, steeps almost every demo truly requires a skilled understanding of the foot-to-foot range. Students struggle with pressuring the nose of the board. They must think that instructors only know these words, “Put more weight over the front foot!”
Static or limited foot-to-foot movements really start to show when riders get into tough terrain environments. Often falling toward the tail when hitting a jump or rail, kicking the tail of the board around in a violent wafting manner in turning, getting tossed in the moguls, or struggling to make that first toe side turn. Snowboards are designed to load and release energy so riders must spend time building the foot-to-foot range or they’ll get bucked by the changes in terrain!
Challenging terrain environments demand specific and skillfully timed pressure control movements of the lead and rear leg both independent (nose and tail pressure) and simultaneously (center pressure). As important as it is to know how to make the movements, riders need to know how it feels when the board reacts to the movements. From bending the nose and tail so far that the board pops out and the rider falls to controlling balance up to a high blocked position to a gentle pressed position to a slightly loaded feel to a center pressure feel. Each stage of development unlocks new understandings of how to balance, manipulate, and recover from the de-cambering and rebounding or popping action of the board.
One of the best ways to accomplish this type of strengthening and growth starts with static foot-to-foot work. Riders then progress to low speed/intensity work, later to higher speeds and more dynamic environments. The framework for growth in this article will deal with four static drills to introduce riders to the potential flex of the board and their ability to create and control the action.
Static: Start in a low stance. Slide the board under the body by extending of one leg and flexing the other. Keep the body upright and tip shoulders toward the extended leg. Sink lower into your stance to create a stronger pressed position. Tip the knee of the pressing leg toward the pressing end of the board. Seek feel pressure over the outside edge of the pressing foot. Sit lower moving the core toward the pressing foot and the board will begin to bend. This skill will help riders understand balance and recovery control with independent leg action over the nose and tail.
Low intensity sliding: Take this move to the most gentle slope where speed control is not an issue. Start directly in the fall line in a low center stance. Practice sliding to the tail and nose and holding in the low seated stance. As strength is developed in the press work toward popping off the nose or tail and return to center as the press is released. Remember it’s never a lift, it’s always an extension of the lead leg and flexing of the rear leg. There should be no strain or stretch through the hip flexors.
Beyond: The next steps for this skill are to add speed and change the terrain aspect. Work them on moderate slopes. Work them while traversing across the hill. When traversing the tail or nose press point will shift to the up hill edge and will turn into a skidded feeling.
Static: Rotate the shoulders and face the tail of the board. Slide the board under the body. Focus on a straight lead leg. Bend at the waist and bow toward the tail of the board. Place both hands on the ground. Extend the rear leg completely to force the tail to pop out. The nose of the board should point straight up at the sky. Balance on the tail and both hands in a 3 point stance. After holding the position for a few seconds tip the board toward the toe-side edge and set it down gently. Push up and try the other end of the board. Work with this until the tail or nose easily pops with enough energy to get to come up off the ground before it stabs into the snow. Try to feel the board bend and load extremely hard as the bent leg straightens. This skill will help riders understand the complete foot-to-foot range and the limitations/load points of their board raising awareness of just how far they can really bend it.
Low intensity sliding: On a gentle slope try starting switch and regular sliding directly in the fall line. For the bleeding version (sliding) we always tip to the uphill end of the board. Once in the tripod position be prepared to allow the hands to drag and the board to continue sliding down the fall line. To get back up bend the pressing leg to load the sliding end of the board. Use a strong push with the arms to upright.
Beyond: Add speed and pitch to create a greater challenge. This trick leads right into hand plants.
The tail check is all about a strong focus on pressing the board with a completely extended rear leg and a bent front leg. It’s easy to get a feel for this on a balance board or skate board. On a snowboard, start in a low stance loaded slightly over the nose. Rock/shift the core over the center of the board toward the tail. Extend both legs like jumping way out over the tail. Quickly start to bend the lead leg and tip the lower half of the lead leg toward the nose of the board. Stay focused on fully extending the rear leg. Work toward feeling like the lead leg and the nose of the board are getting really close together. Feel lots of pressure toward the outside cuff of the lead boot. Hold the extension as much as possible until feeling the tail bend, with enough force that it creates some bounce. The first few times riders will likely get pulled right down to a flat base in falling action from the tail. Keep at it until able to stand with a fully extended rear leg and hold a full press for a few seconds. The tail check is the first step to learning a good tail block. The block is a stronger version of the check. Jump harder into the tail check position and bend that lead leg so much that it’s possible to reach the nose of the board with the lead hand and later both hands for a strong grip. This skill will help riders truly feel and control the limits of the flex of the nose and tail with a complete separation of the legs in a static position.
Low intensity sliding: Find a gentle fall line transition like a small jump ramp or even better the bottom of a quarter pipe. Start out very close to the bottom of the transition to keep the speed slow and avoid generating enough speed to go over the top. Start with the tail check and work it into a full-on grabbed block. Drop in at the transition in a low stance loaded slightly to the uphill foot. Ride up the transition and time the rock and extension to the up-transition foot when a little deceleration is felt. To get up into the press requires a strong active move and it will feel like trying to jump to the top of the transition to make it work. Once the check and/or grabbed block is held, bounce a little on the board and pop back into the transition to slide away.
Beyond: Next steps with these include taking them to different types of transitions and working them from traverses. The last couple wall hits in the half pipe are a great place or side walls along traverse tracks. Remember to work toward a clean apex and feel some deceleration before attempting the trick.
Start in a low stance. Tip the lower half of the lead leg toward the nose of the board. Slide the board under the body to load the tail (like the tail press). Try to feel the outside edge of the rear foot load up with pressure. Make sure the rear knee is tipped toward the tail (this will help lever the tail harder). Extend the rear leg. Keep the line of the shoulders slightly tipped toward the nose of the board. Release the tail of the board by retracting the legs and pulling the knees up toward chest. In the air the board will move back to center under the core. Extend legs and stomp board down. Absorb impact by bending ankles knees and hips. This skill will help riders feel full and blended pressuring and flexing action of the board, create independent leg movements of the front and rear legs, and create a stronger sense of upper and lower body separation.
Low intensity sliding: Head to the gentle slope. Practice both the ollie and nollie directly in the fall line. If the speed is making this hard the slope is too steep. As the ollie and nollie feel more comfortable see how many can be done in a sequence. Go for 3-5 and work up.
Beyond: Performing this trick on steeper slopes, across fall line, and over or off of transitions and little bumps is the next step. In general it’s time to put this trick to the test in all sorts of scenarios. The sequence of the ollie is so similar to the fluid independent mechanics of turning. This movement pattern will help control trajectory and set up or anticipate pressure changes. The keys to the kingdom reside in this movement, oh yeah baby!
Each of these drills will give the rider greater balance over the nose and tail of the board and independent strength from one leg to the other. The ultimate goal is to have so much strength in a static setting with each leg that the rider can then put these drills into action while sliding. Once the extremes of the range are under control the rider will have the strength and ability to start working toward smaller and more subtle adjustments in high level riding. Sometimes the best lessons are learned by straying far from the path only to learn that one must return to it grasshopper.
Strengthening this range of motion is the path to fully enjoying all that the board can do, greater balance and ability to maneuver, stomped tricks in the pipe and park, and access to unique and often overlooked lines on the mountain. Riders and instructors should spend a lifetime developing and mastering control over the flex of the snowboard. So many fun, playful, and creative tricks stem from this range. So many high level riding skills and tactics depend on accurate control of this range. For any rider working toward better snowboarding, better teaching progressions, and success in exams this season is a great time to start milking this range for all it’s worth. Remember almost every maneuver and type of terrain demands bending action from the board. Riders can choose to bend their board or the mountain will surely bend it for them and when they least expect or want it.
You’re shredding it up at your favorite mountain (Stevens Pass). All the easy pow has been shredded, destroyed, pummeled, and annihilated … argh! The last stash of pow is trapped between a mogul field, a nasty scraped off tree run, and a gnarly chewed up chute. To enter the field you have to gap off a tight little transition, that was formed up on a downed tree, over a little pile of rocks. The only question you have to answer is how skilled are you at working the board from nose to tail and working the board through all those tight spots. Put time and energy every day into strengthening this range and you and your students will, I promise, taste the sweet glory that is the secret stash shred. The local heroes will only be bummed for a little while that new shrelpers have learned how to access their world, then they’ll be cheering and leading the way to new terrain and new tricks all over the hill. At least, that’s the dream…[connections_list id=48 template_name=”div_staff_bio”]