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gravityhomer 03-08-2011 06:56 PM

How to be in control while going faster
So I'm up here at the US open for snowboarding at Stratton and just feeling completely out of my element with all of these amazing young riders. Quite a humbling experience. At 34, this is only the latter half of my third full season of riding. When there is powder, I can ride many of the blacks here at Stratton, today was an ice fest because of the ice storm two days ago so I wasn't even feeling comfortable anywhere. But the competitors, most of which are 10-20 years younger, fly around on the ice like it is nothing. Seriously I am just amazed out how fast everyone is going.

I have never been very comfortable with speed, but the more chopped up the snow the more comfortable I am going faster.

I feel like there is a connection between being better at going faster and being better at riding on ice, and just want to get some feedback here. I think the key to both, is being able to carve on your edge. I think riding on powder for me, just allows me to be sloppy and do more skidding turns rather than actual carving. But ice, is not so forgiving and when skidding it sucks and slows you down horribly. I'm not very good at actual dynamic carving. Only when I am most comfortable, on easy blues or greens, when it is not too icy, I am able to make tight turns and transition from one edge to the other, make the 'S' type riding, where I can be on my heels and then switch to my toes before my board actually points down the hill and then the turn happens.

But when it gets steeper or it gets icy, I freeze up and resort to skidding turns.

Does this sound right to people? Is this the key to going faster and also controlling on ice? making the turns be edge only carving. Any advice on how to progress at this and get more comfortable doing it on steeper stuff would be good. I feel I can do it but only on easy trails and not when going too fast. I just don't feel comfortable at all with speed. If I start going to fast, it's weird, it like I somehow the speed causes me to forget how to snowboard. It is hard to describe. When I am going slow, everything feels right and I feel in control. But if I start to go to fast, I just forget everything. How do I get more comfortable at going fast? I can only guess feeling in control will allow me to go faster. is dynamic carving the key?

justdust 03-08-2011 07:24 PM

I'll leave the technical stuff to people who can explain it well like Snowwolf. But you say this is only your third season. For me, muscle memory made a huge difference in my comfort level riding at the more you ride, the more comfortable you will become as your feet and legs develop a mind of their own and you give less conscious thought to avoiding catching and edge or slipping out. The answer to everything...RIDE MORE!!! :D

Donutz 03-08-2011 08:12 PM

I agree with justdust, plus I found that what helps me a lot is riding on the roughs, i.e. off the groomed slopes. I made a point of always hitting the sides of the runs this year, and the payoff has been a huge improvement in my stability and my ability to recover my balance when things start to go south.

When you're going faster, bumps and jogs on the slope hit you harder and faster and more often. At some point you start to feel like it's coming faster than you can react to, and that's when you shut it down. But practicing things that improve your reactions will improve the speed that you can handle.

gravityhomer 03-08-2011 08:20 PM

Yeah, the ice has definitely magnified ever little bump tremendously. This is something that I read online and I think it might apply to me, I over think things, "The harder you try and more tense you are, the worse you're going to do. Just relax and try to have fun and really feel it out as you ride."

jyuen 03-08-2011 11:27 PM

if you really wanna get some good speed, you have to avoid riding lazy and get a nice squat going... especially in the ice coast when you're not really floating on powder. really gotta dig those edges into the groomers or crappy ice tracks and just ride it out. personally i hate bombing it cause my quads and hamstrings get real tired from squatting... i'm a pretty lazy rider and the only time i really get a nice squat going is when i'm on a box or going into or landing a jump

Hellude 03-09-2011 03:06 PM

Try to put some angle on your highbacks, it will force you to a lower position and bent knees which will help when riding on bumpy terrain. Also if you find rollers (shaped like ~~~) try to practice there. Bend your knees over the bumps and extend between. Try to keep your upper body in a straight line and you legs working. Straightlining through rollers is a great exercice to get your riding more dynamic.
As for the ice some speed might actually help you since you wont slide out and fall. Try to look for buildt up snowpiles on the ice, aim for them and make your turn there. Also keep your edges sharp.
Carving on steeper hills is a challenge, in the beginning try to make a C shaped turn, in the beginning and end of your turn your board will be traversing across the hill. This will keep the speed down which is important at the beginning, as you progress try to ride more down the fallline as you get more comfortable with the speed. Riding fast is also a lot in your head, you need some mental toughness to be relaxed at high speed so take it in small steps and dont try to race everyone else. Ride just outside of your comforzone all the time.

HoboMaster 03-09-2011 05:40 PM

Balls out halling ass on ice is more like a death wish then skill. Sure, there is a certain level of skill required where you actually feel somewhat comfortable doing that, but ice is highly unpredictable and if you can't hold an edge, you can't snowboard, regardless of how good you are. Knowing conditions and how your board reacts to them is essential in snowboarding. You ride different types of terrain differently, and accommodate your speed to them. In fresh powder or crunchy groomers, I can go as fast as want because I know how the snow is going to react. On ice or chewed pow however, I check myself and ride with a certain level of caution, because all it takes is once inconsistency to throw you off the horse.

Snowboard progression is weird too, because you always feel like your not progressing that much, or not fast enough, but take a look back at your skills like 1-2 years ago. Big difference right? Just takes time and practice, the more time you spend programming your brain, the better it will naturally react.

gravityhomer 03-09-2011 09:48 PM

Thanks for the replies and advice everyone. I really appreciate it. And realize I need to not be so hard on myself with the ice. Today started out like a nightmare, no control, no confidence, braking all the time, afraid I was going to take another bad fall like I did earlier in the week so I sat in the lodge mopping for an hour. Than smacked myself out of it and forced myself to go back out there. Basically I just wanted to get back to the bottom of the half pipe so I could watch some more runs, made it there eventually, not happy. After all the sessions were done, and getting ready to leave I start talking with this older guy on a snowboard who was apparently one of the officials. He asked me how things were and I told him horrible, but that I'm a beginner, so I'm not handling the ice well. He offered me a piece of advice, not having seen me ride at all. Told me to really sit into it more. Keep the upper body straight and just sit my butt down more toward the board, knees bent. Even told me to do it, just standing there. Had me compare my ankle mobility while standing up straight vs a knees bent sit down position more, and yeah, it is way easier to move my ankles when I am sitting down into it. I was kind of amazed, because here was a guy that didn't know me at all, and in the matter of a few minutes he gave me some advice and had me try movements that demonstrated the advice. He was an older guy who has been snowboarding for 25 years.

So my wife and I went for two more runs and even though it was still the same ice out there, I actually felt more comfortable trying to do what the guy said. It made a huge difference. On the steep parts I had to brake mostly anyway, but I went from 90% of the time breaking, to 50% of the time breaking, this is a huge change of speed. I'm sure I knew about this proper form before and did it, but I don't think I was really aware of it.

Definitely because of the ice I was tensing up and standing to tall and not bending the knees to absorb. And I've never heard about the sitting into the board, that is a great way to think about it. And really it looks like what most of the people just riding straight are doing. I still find it tough to ride mostly straight while switching edges. But thinking about this form, I can at least imagine it happening now.

Hellude, I'll take your advice on the lean, that will hopefully help with keeping my knees bent.

Snowolf, you're right, I am really hard on myself. I guess part of me just feels, that because I'm older, I'm so behind on the sport and I just want to get better so much faster.

Hobomaster, just to give you an idea of scale, I didn't want to go all out on the icy trails. Just ride a normal pace, basically not be a hazard skidding sideways for everyone to try to avoid.

AdamBQ 03-09-2011 10:18 PM

I only started going really fast (relative to me) this season and I am about 3 seasons in.
BIG thing for me, as another poster said, was don't be lazy and bend your knees. If I really want to bomb I get real low. It's not for wind resistence or anything like that, but my knees can absorb anything that comes up.

The other one for me is the board. I went from an all moutain freestyle board to a Never Summer Raptor, which is a great charging board. I am way more stable at fast speeds on that.

Donutz 03-09-2011 10:44 PM


Originally Posted by HoboMaster (Post 386759)
Snowboard progression is weird too, because you always feel like your not progressing that much, or not fast enough, but take a look back at your skills like 1-2 years ago.

That's why I started blogging about my sessions on the mountain. When I look back next year, I'll be able to get some sense of proportion on my progress. Gravityhomer, you might want to consider doing the same. Might help you to set goals better, too.

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