January 23, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The Snowman presents
“It’s time to work on some skills”
Braden is a recreational and professional skier and snowboarder and internationally-accredited instructor who has been slicing up the slopes since the age of four, and a lover of all things cold and snowy.
Ok, so you’ve had a chance to hit the hill a few times and of course all my readers are back in shape now (right?). Maybe you’ve even taken my advice and caught a couple ski training classes at the Chavez Center. Now you’re thinking:
“It’s time to work on some skills.”
Well you’re in the right place friend. This week’s blog concentrates on the first of some helpful hints to improve your riding. Whether you’re on a board or a pair of skis, there are a few things that will help you get down those runs you’ve been looking at apprehensively as you pass by on the catwalk. You know, those runs that you desperately try not to slip down on your way to the blue-greens. Well I’ve got your cure, just follow these next steps and you may even impress yourself (without the three shots of Tuaca the lodge has scheduled? for you) the next time you get up on the mountain.
Lets talk rotation for a minute. Rotation is probably one of, if not the most, important concepts in snow sports. It’s the movement you would use to make a turn or a stop. The same movement you would use to pull off that 540 out of the half-pipe, just in different degrees. Why is it so important? Because when you’re riding a slicked-up piece of fiberglass around, you don’t have much to control your trajectory with (I know, I know, edges, but we’ll come back to that later).
What I mean is this: when you rotate, or twist your body, whatever you have strapped to the bottom of your feet is going to want to twist in the same direction. Try it the next time you’re hanging out in the lift line. Stand as motionless and equally balanced as possible and simply rotate one way or the other, starting with your shoulders and following down your spine, to your hips, legs, feet… and whadya know? You’re turning!
Apply the same movement while riding to make your turns sharper and more controlled. Think of your shoulders as a video game controller for your board or skis. If you start your turn by twisting your shoulders to where they should be once your turn is complete, the rest of your body, along with your board or skis, will follow.
The reason I say to start your turn with your shoulders, rather than your head or neck, is because so often you’re head actually needs to be looking in a different direction than you may be headed. This is especially important for snowboarders, whose natural stance doesn’t allow for the easiest view of that cliff they didn’t see until too late. Too often, I see boarders on the hill who carve a decent line, but they look like pretzels coming down the run trying to look down the hill with their shoulders (as opposed to turning only their neck to see ahead), effectively making the board want to turn onto its heel edge, while having to be corrected for by the rider’s bottom half. Watch for it the next time you’re riding the lift. (That didn’t make sense? Stay tuned for next week’s blog when I’ll talk about all those terms you’ve been wondering about.) Below are a couple of images showing the too-common "twisted out" stance we should try to avoid.
How NOT to ride.
By any number of physical, scientific and mathematical laws or properties, when you add something, you must subtract something. In this case, our goal is to make a board or skis, and their bindings, become a part of our bodies. We must then get rid of an equal and opposite body part. Forget that your head is attached, and you may have more luck becoming one with your skis. This isn’t to say don’t wear a helmet, though. In all reality your head is very much still attached and should be treated with the care it deserves. It never hurts to play it safe, and it always helps to…
Still reading? Really that interested? Wondering when I’m going to make good on talking about those edges? Stay tuned for next week’s blog. Oh, and thanks. And to say thanks, I want to answer your questions about snow sports. Want to know what the best gear this season is? Maybe you want to know how to get that 360 down. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page and let me know!