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SNOWBOARDING

Snowboarding Tips for Advanced Riding

By Cliff Montgomery, ExtremeProSports.com
If you're new to the slopes, your first board be should a well-proportioned, all-mountain "free-riding" board of between 135 and 160 cm., depending on your size. Borrowing your friend's stiff, unforgiving racing board with the bindings mounted at a 60 degree angle won't cut it. Rely on the knowledge of a decent shop tech to fit the proper boots, board and bindings, and to adjust stance width and angles to suit your personal needs according to height, weight, strength, age, and ability.

At the time boots and boards are chosen, a crucial judgment must be made: which foot forward? Some new boarders have engaged in such similar sports as water skiing, surfing or skate boarding, and already know. If you're unsure, the following exercise will determine the dominant leg: with a running start, slide across a linoleum floor in your stocking feet. Instinctively, one leg usually is thrust forward for balance, while the stronger leg remains behind for support. This should accurately certify your snowboard stance.

PRESSURING AN EDGE

In the old days (about 15 years ago), we really did not know much about snowboard technique. This did not seem to matter for many top riders, who just rode. They were constantly pushing one another to new limits. Equipment was changing each season and technique was changing with it.

Maybe the most significant change in technique was that of pressuring an edge, or controlling pressure along an edge. This idea not only explains one of the major differences between skiing and snowboarding, but is a cornerstone of modern snowboard style.

It's a simple idea: the snowboarder can control the pressure and edge along the entire length of his or her board. They do this by using their feet, ankles, and knees independently of one another. Edge changes, adjustments to edge angle and changes in pressure do not have to occur with both feet at the same time. We'll look at how we apply this to different situations as they materialize.

Let's start with a basic heel side-slip. If edge and pressure are held equal with both feet, the board will slip straight down the fall line; but if we change the amount of edge with only one of our feet things change. This independent movement allows us to control the board and initiate turns without great movements of our center of mass.

When linking turns, edge movements are initiated with the front foot and followed with the back foot. This allows us to start the turn with more pressure on the edge at the front of the board and finish the turn with more pressure on the edge at the tail of the board without disturbing our balance. This ability to twist the board gives us a wide range of options to control the pressure along the edge, and the best part is we do not have to mess with our center of gravity to make it happen.

These techniques are used by most top riders. They are used in a wide variety if situations, with the only distinctions those of timing and degree of edging.

EURO-CARVES

A "euro-carve" is a really a trick performed on a carving board, a turn in which the rider slides the upper body across the snow on toeside and at least the hips on heelside. Such turns usually require good conditions to execute because they depart from what one generally considers "good technique."

Normally, in order to hold an edge and not skid or fall, the body's mass must be directed over the board's inside edge. "Euro-carves" are what we call banked turns, where the legs remain straight and extended, with the body's center of mass positioned away from the board edge. Clearly, the steeper the slope and the harder the snow, the more difficult it will be to hold an edge with such an extreme position. But in the right conditions (smooth, soft, groomed corduroy on a fairly steep pitch), a skilled rider can execute a perfect carve with the side or chest, and one or both arms and hands, sliding across the snow, on both toe and heelside.

When performing such maneuvers, it is important to approximate sound technique as much as possible. Moves such as reaching down to touch the snow with the inside hand won't cut it. By doing that edge angle is reduced, or pressure is released, and the board will probably slip or pop out.

With both hands, elbows and arms on the snow, the shoulders remain parallel to the slope; indeed, they are on the slope. Even in such an extreme position, enough edge pressure can indeed be maintained to execute a perfect carve, so long as the snow is forgiving. A good (but not extravagant) pitch helps, too; you shouldn't have to lean over far before you touch the ground.

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