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Old 03-28-2012, 03:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Getting over the speed fear and keeping weight centered

Hi everyone,

First post. I've been lurking all summer and fall in an effort to relearn the basics.

I first tried to learn snowboarding five seasons ago with lessons. By the end of the third lesson, I was able to link turns and keep my weight centered or even forward. I remember a drill where the instructor had me go straight down a green run with the board flat to get used to the speed.

I couldn't go the following season for various reasons.

In my third year (second season), I injured my knee and ankle pretty badly on my first day going up a tow lift (one foot strapped in, board caught an edge, twisted my left (front) knee as the board did a 180). That wiped me out for the season but worse, set up a pretty bad mental roadblock. Fourth year, I couldn't get past the garlands; I was terrified of catching an edge when making a transition to link turns and so after a day or two, I gave up for the season.

My fiance loves to ride, so this year, I commmitted myself to at least being able to learn to ride on blues so that I can join her. I took two hours of private lessons and learned about twisting the boarding to initiate turns, rounding the turn with the front knee,etc, as Snowolf talks about in his videos. I was able to occasionally link turns, but I was pretty sure that I was still in the backseat and I think I was kicking my rear leg out rather than cleanly using the front toeedge. The instructor was not good at pointing out what I was doing wrong. I think blues are probably going to be beyond my ability this season, given that the pacific northwest only has another month or so left in the season, but I'd like to get to the point where I can comfortably do greens and be "bored" of them so that blues are within reach for next year.

In many searches of this forum, I've learned about the italic A, inverted T shape, shoulder dipping towards the slope etc. I've learned that overcoming the fear of speed just comes with more time on the slopes.

However, almost everytime I am at the top of the greens, I'm mentally unable to lean forward, when doing a toeside turn. I have been trying to push myself to bomb down the green run with a flat board to get used to the speed, but somewhere along the line, I heard that a flat board for anything more than a milisecond is how edge catches happen beause a flat board is not gliding true nose-to-tail. Every time I chicken out, of course, it reinforces the mental block that was created when I injured my knee.

That leads to my questions (hopefully, Snowolf is reading this as well!):

1) Is it safe to run bomb down a green run on a flat board as an exercise to get accustomed to the speed?
2) What are some drills on that I might try to develop the muscle memory and posture for keeping my weight centered or slightly forward?
3) I'm recovering from knee surgery on my right (I ride regular) leg as well, so i can flex the knees and ankles to an extent, but my quads get fatiguied pretty quickly. I'm building strength in rehab so this problem will eventually go away. However, when people say "get low" how low do they mean?

Apologies for the long post and thanks in advance to anyone who replies!
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Old 03-28-2012, 03:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PNWRider View Post
1) Is it safe to run bomb down a green run on a flat board as an exercise to get accustomed to the speed?
2) What are some drills on that I might try to develop the muscle memory and posture for keeping my weight centered or slightly forward?
3) I'm recovering from knee surgery on my right (I ride regular) leg as well, so i can flex the knees and ankles to an extent, but my quads get fatiguied pretty quickly. I'm building strength in rehab so this problem will eventually go away. However, when people say "get low" how low do they mean?

Apologies for the long post and thanks in advance to anyone who replies!

1) Don't start from the top. Start toward the end and gradually increase. get used to the speed.
2) Long boarding. Or on the snowboard just move your hips back and forward along the board shifting your weight. Higher angles on your bindings (both positive) help too.
3) more than just low, keep your knees flexed and ready to absorb the ride. Rest and repeat paying attention to what's coming and adapting your posture to it.
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Old 03-28-2012, 04:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would say when you're bombing...pick your spots. Make sure you can't hurt anybody if you bail, and don't start off picking the steepest part.

Can't comment on muscle memory, but when people told me to get low, I always thought it meant like an athletically ready stance. Knees bent, low center of gravity, ready to react. Baseball players I think show the stance best, but you might not be spreading your legs so wide

More symmetrical than in the picture, but that's the right idea. I would say that the feeling is that your knees are bent ~ halfway.
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Old 03-28-2012, 04:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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where do you ride?

When bombing, going right down the fall line...there are no edges to catch. This is because the toe and heel edge are parallel with the fall line. So you just got to keep a bit of weight on your nose, keep your upper body quiet with shoulders and hips closed/parallel with the board; and your legs, knees and ankles loose, relaxed. As for being low...try alternating between standing tall and crouching as low as you can get...like taking a shit in the woods.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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There is also the altrnative to bombing which is to stay on edge and make very wide radius turns. In this case you will almost be bombing but will traverse the slope in a way that you will be moving downwards at a far greater rate than you are moving sidewards. The advantage being that you remain on edge while getting comfortable with speed. This way you can be gradual between slowly traversing and bombing. The middle ground is nice. It also allows you to progress to carving in a more natural fashion. There are lots of kooks on the hill that can bomb and jump but cannot execute a respectable turn. Great vids online here from Snow wolf and others. Good luck!
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As far as staying out of the back seat, this is what worked for me for getting used to the feel of a stance: On the flat, not moving, put yourself into what you consider a 60/40 front-weighted stance. Now, close your eyes and concentrate on how that feels. Feel the weight on your front leg. When you get on a slope, concentrate not on the slope, but on getting the same feel in your front leg. Hold that feeling, you hold the stance.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Edp25 View Post
There is also the altrnative to bombing which is to stay on edge and make very wide radius turns. In this case you will almost be bombing but will traverse the slope in a way that you will be moving downwards at a far greater rate than you are moving sidewards. The advantage being that you remain on edge while getting comfortable with speed. This way you can be gradual between slowly traversing and bombing.
A big +1 here... Not sure why an instructor would tell somebody to flatbase and bomb a run to "get used to speed" unless you were just on the bunny hill and top speed in that case would be a quick jog.

Otherwise, it's way better to stay on an edge. I think it's sloppy boarding to flatbase. Do very light carves but you're pretty much bombing. I do this on all long traverses, it's actually faster than flatbasing, and you rest each set of muscles every few seconds or so (instead of getting calf pump or quad pump by the end of the traverse).

Also, not sure what the hype is about keeping your weight centred. You actually need to have your weight in all different areas depending on the snow, your speed, etc. Best way to feel out what weight does is to start off heelsliding, then gradually put more weight on your front foot, then back to centre, then towards your back foot. If done correctly you should turn more downhill with weight on your front foot, then hold that position with it centred, then turned back across the hill with weight on the back foot. Do the same exercise on your toe side to feel the same feelings.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When I was first starting to ride I was always in the back seat. It took an instructor friend of mine watching me ride to tell me to grab my front knee while riding to initiate the forward lean needed to have real control & drive those front contact points into the snow. I'd suggest the same until you get used to the feeling. Also, as said above, get into the 60/40 forward lean on flat ground & learn how it feels to be in that position on your board. As far as getting over the speed....well, I can't help you there. It's just gotta happen. I finally started feeling really good about picking up stupid speed sometimes this season. I've always been ok with picking up some speed, but would get freaked out & slow myself down or stop when I was pointed straight down the mountain & bombing. Try traversing across the mountain, pointing more down than across, so you still pick up speed but can feel comfortable bringing yourself to a stop or bleeding off some speed if it gets too gnarly for you. Also, as stated above, don't go for the steep runs to learn to be comfortable with speed. That will scare the crap out of you & you'll feel even less in control than you do now. Riding on a flat base is a weird feeling & it does kinda feel like you don't have control, but keep in mind that you can always lean a little & initiate an edge to gain control if you feel like you don't have it.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PNWRider View Post

My fiance loves to ride, so this year, I commmitted myself to at least being able to learn to ride on blues so that I can join her.
aww. that is so sweet.


Contrary to all the other advice here have you thought about buying some serious protection i.e. Helmet, wrist guards, hip pads and then spend some time learning how to fall properly. My suggestion after that would be to knock back a strong drink or two at the bar and go for it.

It's easier to learn with some momentum. And if you are too busy worrying about getting hurt (which is understandable) you won't be able to focus on your riding. That injury on the rope tow sounds brutal. Stay away from that thing. You probably can't hurt yourself as bad as that on a green run. I just tweaked my ankle bad doing something stupid with one foot strapped in....I know how it goes.

So, go on. Get all padded up, get liquored up then toss your self down an empty green run. Learn to get over your fear of speed and you can sober up and focus on all the details

Last edited by mixie; 03-28-2012 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow, thanks for all the fast replies folks!

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Originally Posted by KIRKRIDER View Post
2) Long boarding. Or on the snowboard just move your hips back and forward along the board shifting your weight. Higher angles on your bindings (both positive) help too.
Thanks KirkRider. What is long boarding? By higher angles, I suppose you mean such that my feet are pointed more towards the front of the board? Does this change any of the mechanics of how to do a simple skidded turn?

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Originally Posted by wrathfuldeity View Post
where do you ride?

When bombing, going right down the fall line...there are no edges to catch. This is because the toe and heel edge are parallel with the fall line. So you just got to keep a bit of weight on your nose, keep your upper body quiet with shoulders and hips closed/parallel with the board; and your legs, knees and ankles loose, relaxed. As for being low...try alternating between standing tall and crouching as low as you can get...like taking a shit in the woods.
Snoqualmie Central right now when in Seattle, and Cypress Mountain when in Vancouver. Probably Crystal/Stevens once Snoqualmie closes for the season.

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Originally Posted by Donutz View Post
As far as staying out of the back seat, this is what worked for me for getting used to the feel of a stance: On the flat, not moving, put yourself into what you consider a 60/40 front-weighted stance. Now, close your eyes and concentrate on how that feels. Feel the weight on your front leg. When you get on a slope, concentrate not on the slope, but on getting the same feel in your front leg. Hold that feeling, you hold the stance.
This sounds like a good idea, thanks! I'll try this Sunday when I'm on the slopes next.

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Originally Posted by poutanen View Post
A big +1 here... Not sure why an instructor would tell somebody to flatbase and bomb a run to "get used to speed" unless you were just on the bunny hill and top speed in that case would be a quick jog.
Not sure how you define a bunny hill but I'm usually one of the green circle chairlifts. There are some variances in steepness between the various green runs here in the Pacific Northwest, but they are all roughly the same level of steepness. Some are a bit steeper on the top third. The bomb down the run was after the top third. Are the green circles considered bunny hills? My sister called it a flat, but she skiis black diamonds and I think she was just being sarcastic
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Originally Posted by poutanen View Post

Also, not sure what the hype is about keeping your weight centred. You actually need to have your weight in all different areas depending on the snow, your speed, etc. Best way to feel out what weight does is to start off heelsliding, then gradually put more weight on your front foot, then back to centre, then towards your back foot. If done correctly you should turn more downhill with weight on your front foot, then hold that position with it centred, then turned back across the hill with weight on the back foot. Do the same exercise on your toe side to feel the same feelings.
I understand that as one advances, one needs to be able to move the weight around, but for many beginners like me, moving the weight forward is a huge mental obstacle so we work on that first

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Originally Posted by handscreate View Post
When I was first starting to ride I was always in the back seat. It took an instructor friend of mine watching me ride to tell me to grab my front knee while riding to initiate the forward lean needed to have real control & drive those front contact points into the snow.
So I just lean to my left (regular rider) and lightly grab my front knee?

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Originally Posted by handscreate View Post
Also, as stated above, don't go for the steep runs to learn to be comfortable with speed. That will scare the crap out of you & you'll feel even less in control than you do now. Riding on a flat base is a weird feeling & it does kinda feel like you don't have control, but keep in mind that you can always lean a little & initiate an edge to gain control if you feel like you don't have it.
Thanks for this advice. I read somewhere on these forums that it's best not to advance in terrain until the current terrain gets boring. The instructors I've worked with keep trying to push me to blues and I'm not even comfortable going straight down the easiest greens yet! Just because I can occasionally link a turn by keeping my weight miraculously centered doesn't mean I can do s-turns down a blue yet, so it's good to hear that I'm doing the right thing by sticking to greens until I gain more confidence with speed.
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