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Toeside initiation?


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To be more precise, toeside turn initiation on a swallowtail (4807 178) at low speed, on steep terrain, in fresh heavy snow.

It is something I kinda knew before, but never paid much attention to it. Toeside is harder to initiate (properly) on most of the boards. I notice this in my begginers on weekly basis and on myself when my game or setup is a bit off. However, I noticed it big time, 2 days ago, riding the big 4807 in fresh heavy snow on demanding steep terrain (trees, ditches, rocks, etc). This board I normally ride on more open pitches and fast. I let the speed build and initiate the toe side turn/carve mostly in "surfy" manner, of the back foot. Where I was other day, speed wasn't an option (unless I wanted to die). I had to go slow and stay in controll. Damn thing was almost imposible to initiate in any estetically good (or correct, for that matter) manner!

For the purpose of this discussion, I would like to leave the setup out of the equation - I did and can fiddle with that endlesly, on my own. I would just like to hear the oppinions and suggestions on the technique, from experienced 4807, or other swally riders.

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I'm looking forward to reading what others have to say. I noticed something similar on the Prior Powstick with softies. When I was riding on steep terrain and hesitating, I kept overweighting the heel edge to [presumably] look downhill and see what's coming up. Switching to toeside was difficult and I had to counter-rotate a bunch. Now I try to stay better centered across the board (toe to heel) to keep the board flatter, keep my forearms in front of me or at least the back hand on my front chest, and do more of a bump-type turn, weighting the front foot and unweighting the back -- seems to be working well so far.

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If you have higher angles, your rotational position is highly biased towards the nose.

Do you feel the need to strongly counter-rotate from heels to toes like tpalka? If so, that takes the guessing away for me completely.

In a sliding turn where you can't use the board as effectively as a more carved one, rotation comes back in to it in a big way.

I found with personal experience that it's a long way to go from rotated and angled that far forward, to finding your toes and a stable backside position.

Simply, if you have lower angles, you don't have as far to go.

So no one is confused, sooperburd and I were discusing this in his mogul thread and I stated that low and high angles would be just as quick side to side. This is true in a counter rotated turn.

Once you are back to rotating because you need to be well across the fall line to control your speed, lower angles will be superior when it comes to pivoting from heels to toes.

Conversely, higher angles will make it easier to go from toes to heels, but I'm looking for balance between turns primarily in situations where I don't want to fall.

Blue... I know you don't want to change your angles, so the best I can say is to feel solid pressure along the whole edge as you finish the heel turn and make a strong, centred rotation with hips and shoulders as you draw the board up off the snow. This extension to start will set the edge and the finish will unweight you, allowing the board to clear the pow and follow you. You have to really concentrate on this series of moves, because if you don't do it right, you be back to looking like a spaz.

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I like Rob's advice for higher speeds, but at the slower speeds I think you're talking about the centered move he decribes doesn't really clear the nose for me (I'm pretty heavy at 220 and my 205 is pretty narrow and not a swallowtail, so you may kick loose earlier.)

For me it takes a delicate little mini-ollie to clear the nose and then a gentle step forward as I kick the tail into a little slide to get things started. I'm pretty centered once I get close to the fall-line. For me, the big deal is to find a technique which is balanced and also dynamic enough that my back leg doesn't just burst into flames after three runs, and a fair amount of rhythmic fore-aft movement helps with that. Obviously I'll go pearl-diving if the nose gets too much pressure, but the moment when I'm in that initial slide is usually OK.

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To get the board out of the snow, Jonnys advice is good re: the ollie.

The point to remember and the reason why the turn is difficult, still comes down to your hip and shoulder position relative to the edges.

I would disagree with my advice being more suited to faster riding... It is in slow riding where the board is not storing and releasing as much energy where you have to make solid rotational moves from a well- anchored platform.

Again, I'm not disagreeing with Jonny, but asking that you add a strong upper body move to his ollie to the front leg.

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I don't ride one of those things, but;

Difficulty initiating toeside at slow speed in deep snow can often come down to uneven leverage ratios between toe and heelside. It is harder to 'get over the hump' with minimal momentum.

I realize that you want to exclude setup from this, but ultimately, many of our movements are dictated by how we relate to the board. Deep snow and bombproof ice reveal the deficiencies of our chosen configurations.

Offset your rear binding to the toeside,


If your boots have speedlaces, skip the top set of hooks on the rear boot.

(That is assuming you are using softboots. If hardboots, then combination of offset, easier boot flex ((looser upper buckle)), slight outward cant.)

Doesn't take much to make a difference.

When you see beginners bending at the waist on a toeside, with knees locked out, that's a leverage thing. (Most of the time, the default for most rental bindings is too far to the heelside.)

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Ok, it seems impossible to discuss the technique without at least an insight to the setup, as different setups might require different aproach...

I freeride in hard boots, pretty stiff ones. My angles range from 50/35 highest, to 40/25 lowest. I did try 30/10 before, freeriding my teaching board in between the lessons, but wasn't too impressed with it...

So, other day, I started with 50/35 and it sucked. Dropped to 40/25 and it was better for rotational turns, but not dramatically. I started loosing the "surf of the back leg and counter (not counter-rotate)" carve for more open turns, that I like so much. Eventually, I settled at about 48/25, while I moved the binding bias towards the toe edge (nod to Beckmann).

Rob, I totally agree on rotation and counter rotation. For quick unfinished turns the counter rotation against core works just fine. At slower tempo and rounder turns rotation is the key. Back analysing my riding other day, I'm sure I wasn't rotating enough. I was probably indecisive between the two techniques. Being intimidated by terrain doesnt help either, as the boddy stiffens up and the legs straighten... You're right, from 37 degree average stance - long way to rotate...

Jonny, Tom, olie / bump turn - Bingo! I always subconciously look for a bump or at least irregularity in snow to help with this unweighing motion. This allows for quick follow-up of quick loading the nose without sinking it, while bringing the tail around.

Timing it right with nice strong rotation would be a bomb!


The specifics of the 4807 and heavy snow brought the riding issues to the surface very nicelly... The shear size of the board doesn't make it very flickable. The tail is very stiff and sharp, with no upturn, so it bites in instead of sliding around. The big nose floats great when moving fast enough, but scoops quite a bit of snow if you managed to get it in at slow speed... I have a lot of work to do...

Later in the afternoon, the same day, I switched to my heavilly tapered and slightly rockered, narrow BX board. Difference was obvious - I was able to stomp on the tail to sink it and just surf into the toe turn at lower speed. However, I augered every time I tried something aggressive of the nose.

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To be more precise, toeside turn initiation on a swallowtail (4807 178) at low speed, on steep terrain, in fresh heavy snow.

I would just like to hear the oppinions and suggestions on the technique, from experienced 4807, or other swally riders.

Not my level (yet), I'm happy to be able to drag my armpit one day but I've seen and follow crucible on 40-45* slope and both his heel and toe side looks awesome and looks so easy :rolleyes: tackling those steep terrain...paging crucible

Interesting reading guys, thx.



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I agree completely with the valuable tips listed here.

I use them all in my riding, I have just never seen them explained so well in print before.

An additional technique that I use with Swallowtails on steep terrain is something that I picked up from Lowell Hart's book "The Snowboard Book: A Guide for all Boarders": the Tip Turn.

Sometimes, the steepness of the terrain, or the tightness of trees and moguls make it impractical to initiate a carved turn. By compressing aggressively with your legs, then leaning forward towards the front of the tip of the board as you swing your rear foot around.


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  • 3 weeks later...

just after 2days on pogo secret spot in soft binders & mountaineering boots (without any calf support): just move you weight projection to needed contact point on the nose - with slight FOOT movement (think ride from snow up) - and all goes well. think about riding WITHOUT boot-binding support: and in some time it all falls in place

to ride you must learn to STAND on the board: not relying on boots-binders. on GS stick in indys or swallowtail in almost noboot - all the same

PS ideas © inner glide by thias

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The 178 is harder to intiate than the 168 by quite a bit. especially the new model due to it being a good bit stiffer and heavier. That said I find that I have to ride with the back foot in the 15 to 25 range to effectively ride it in powder and heavy snow. groomers I bring that angle up significantly but for powder days I open up the stance. It makes the "surfy technique " more effective and easier to initiate. no toe drag worries in the pow. if you are riding from the back foot on the surfy style boards you have to think in terms of a tail fin. steer with the tails and not with the nose. you will find that the tail feels almost round on the bottom instead of flat. essentially you just roll from one tail to the other without the feel of the flat base in between.

I ride this board completely different on groomers so take the above advise for deep stuff only.

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I totally agree with you on the surfy technique. "Fin" feeling of the back foot is exactelly what I like. For me, it works just fine where I've got the space and speed to do it. However in the tight situations, where I'm just about to kill myself, it is a nono... That's where my initial question came from.

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In tite situations or in the bumps I find that I point the nose downhill and actually kick the tail back and forth using the nose as a pivot point. works well for me. Its ideal in crowded or narrow runs as well. This is a powder and chowder technique not a groomer technique although it is useful on crowded groomers occasionally.:biggthump

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