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Ankle initiation and quick turning


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I'm trying to get more comfortable on hardboots in non-carving situations. My limitation being how quick I can turn. Bumps being a good test case.

I'm trying to step back and identify what it is that makes it so much harder for me than in softboots. The one thing I keep coming up with is the ability to use the ankles to quickly rock/angulate the board from edge to edge. Reading some of the beginner or 'how to learn threads', I see a lot of discussion between leading with rotation vs. leading with ankles. LIKE THIS THREAD

I do understand counterrotation (I think), and I do it sometimes (in softies) for quick flicks - but that's not my primary mode that I'm worried about. With softboots, I generally ride properly weighted and am letting the board turn for me. I believe I am doing this (in bumps) with emphasized ankle action - rocking the board from edge to edge to quickly engage without having to get the whole body lined up perfectly. At times, even if I'm slightly off balance (which I can get at times in moguls) I can use that ankle induced rocking to make the board come back under me and recover my balance (which is actually really fun - especially in powder).

Anyway, my current thought is that this is the main mechanism that hinders my maneuverability in bumps/trees in hardboots. After reading some of those instructional threads, I'm asking myself, what does it mean to lead with ankles in hardboots? Have ye not noticed that they are not especially flexible :confused: I can flex my boots with body weight and shin pressure (lead with knees at best), but anything my ankles are doing is pretty much insignificant.

So still working through it and was just looking for any tips our thoughts!

On the huge plus side... I spent the full day on them Saturday in chopped powder and bumps and they didn't irritate my achilles at all. I did fall a lot though - but it was fun and I was definitely improving. Awesome to at least be able to be riding.... practice practice.

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Hey kmartshopper, it sounds like you've thought that through pretty well. To me the speed difference between hard/soft boots is a combination of the boot stiffness and the high stance angles. When you're set up duck/freeride, you can push from heel to toe with more power and speed because you're moving your rear foot the way it's intended to move. Hard to describe, but try this:

Pick a line on the floor, and plant both feet across it in a freestyle stance. Now keep your front foot where it is, and do a 'basketball pivot' moving your rear foot back and forth across the line. Easy, right? Now change to a carving stance, on the same line. Keeping your rear foot at the same angle (~60 deg forward angle from the line) do the basketball pivot again, and try to pivot the same arc you were doing 'softie'. Doesn't it feel slower and more awkward?

The result of this plus the boot stiffness makes it very difficult to quickly pivot or pump from one edge to the other. Does this make sense? BTW I ride very flexy boots (courtesy of BTS), and while it helps a bit I think that the angles are really the more limiting factor.


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Most limiting factors for freeride, in order of importance:


Bindings and stance;


Board - your platform and ultimate connection to the snow. If it's wrong, everything else will fail. Most extreme example: 185 old school GS board in trees... Until recent, the most of hard boot specific boards were not too great for freeriding. This has changed a lot. Still get the softest you can find.

Besides the flex and size, the width is important too (not only for float) as it directly affects your next link - bindings/stance.

Bindings - need to be as soft latteraly as you can get. This helps your mobillity / weight distribution a lot, and gives certain amount of forgivness.

Stance - big splay is required for easier rottary moves and independent knee action. Rear has to be at least above edges, even some overhang. Front can have some underhang, but not much. Ride with too much underhang on both feet and not that it would be a bitch to initiate, but you'd also bang up your shins when you screw up. Go as wide as you can comfortably ride. Propper lifts/cants are still very important (even if that means 0 for a particular rider).

Boots - yes, they can be too stiff, however, if the rest is set right, board will still react on the pressure on toes or heels, even if the boot didn't flex at all. Boot stifness has greater imapact on how you amortise the terrain, then how you drive the board... Actually, if set right, you can ride h/boots DUCK on a freeride board (not saying that one should, just illustrating the concept).

My 0.02 CAD...

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The OP reads a bit like:

How do I make quicker turns on my HB board?

What part does ankle mobility play in this quest, and what is the mechanism involved?

What part does stance angle and boot rigidity play in all this?

So... When you think 'quick turn', are you assuming that a pivot is a necessary part of said turn?

I.e., a quick pivot requires board rotation, but quick board rotation may not require a de-facto pivot. Similarly, quick turns in moguls may not require either pivoting or low stance angles.

When you think ankle articulation, are you thinking simple dorsiflexion/plantarflexion, inversion/eversion, or some combination?

Bumps/moguls can be approached in any number of ways, whereas the elements of 'quick turns' are reasonably well defined.

When you have it 'right' on your softies, what are you actually doing, and what are your angles?

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With regard to gear, which I should have mentioned. I'm trying with a normal board that I handle well with softies - and trying it with my hardboot. An O-Sin 3800, TD2's (probably stiffer than ideal) and Raichle SB324s.

I have my eye on BTS, but have vowed not to buy any more gear until I can get over the hump and can carve tighter radius to control my speed on steeper blues with current equipment (old school Donek FCII).

From what you're saying, it sounds like it might be a good idea to try some lower angles. Running 50/45 range now (vs. 30/21 softies). I'll try dropping it with a little more splay and see how that feels. I have 3f/6b cants turned more for lift than cant though. That's a good basketball analogy Ian-M... seems to make sense.

Beckman, I'm not sure I understand what you mean w/r to the pivot, but lemme see if I do. I think there are 2 modes I ride bumps in. One is firmer more skier shaped/rutted bumps, in which I am heavily front foot weighted. Still initiating turns with the board edge though (not flicking) and the rear follows. Is that what you mean by pivot? The other way is softer bumps where I'm more balanced weighted and rocking the board and surfing around them - almost like the cross under drill. This is how I'd ride typical tree lines, and is the most fun mode of operation that I'd really like to get comfortable with. I can live with skipping the rutty bumps. I was interpreting ankle articulation to me dorsiflextion/plantarflexion (not that I had to google it of course!) - but maybe that's what you're getting at - it's a combination with hardboots?

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I'm not sure I understand what you mean w/r to the pivot...
(From that Wickedpediathing):

Pivot may refer to:

  • Pivot, the point of rotation in a lever system
  • More generally, the center point of any rotational system
  • Pivot joint, a kind of joint between bones in the body
  • Pivot turn, a dance move

See point 2, and perhaps 4.

Low stance angles facilitate rotational board movements, E.g., a pivot (with the node between, or under either foot), which may be perceived as an advantage for 'quick turns'.

Low stance angles will provide more leverage than finesse with regard to edging movements.

This can be a hindrance in situations that demand more suspension travel by way of knee/hip/ankle articulation. To the extent that lacing the rear soft boot down one speedhook for bumps/powder can provide more 'flow'.

As stance angles increase, one may use more inversion/eversion as a means of edging by way of steer/countersteer. Assuming this option has not been blocked by way of leverage or collateral muscle tension.

Though 'weaker', this action of the joint is, by nature, more intuitive. Not so much a problem in the bumps, as most 'pro-active' edging may be done by selective use of surface contour, and finesse is paramount.

At said angles, flexion/extension of the legs, as well as dorsiflexion/plantarflexion of the ankle joint, are more in line with the glide path. This suggests that rebound is easier to manage, (suspension action interferes less with edge engagement) and thus the board may be 'sprung' from one turn to the next with speed and accuracy.

There are, of course other considerations.

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I find it a bit odd. The opener obviously has an issue with his technique and he gets recommendations about setup and gear. That's the wrong way.

As Beckmann pointed out: there are several ways to approach moguls. In the end it is about good basique riding techniques, mileage and probably most important - rhythm.

You can hit the bumps directly and equalize with your knees while edge changing. You can also do the opposite and jump them. You can as well just go around them or just cross the wall. built-up pressure and change edge when the bump releases you. Many other ways and combinations are thinkable.

Let's say you feel comfortable with your gear and your setup. Then leave it ia it is. Here is your "how to ride chopped-up terrain"

- On groomed slope. Start practising edge changing two ways. 1. bend your knees 2. extend your knees.

- Built in a rhythm. Listen to music, sing something, whatever. Get faster until it works quick and automatic.

- Combine both elements

- Keep your head upright and try to have your arms parallel to the pitch of the slope (like in angulation technique). If possible close your hands to fists and try contract your belly muscles. This increaes your body tension. Forget everything what's below your belt line and simply let it work. (Not what you mean). Again, keep a rhythm.

- Go into easliy chopped up terrain and continue. Let the board follow your upper body.

- Forget your knees. Just keep the rhythm

- Go into more difficult terrain

- Have fun

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Rhythm is fine if the bumps spacing is consistent with your rhythm and speed. You can't usually count on bump spacing being consistent, so if you want to maintain a rhythm you'll have to keep adjusting your speed. The four things I find most useful are

1) keeping a quiet upper body (minimal rotation and flailing of the arms)

2) keeping the legs well bent so you can flex and extend readily and keep the board quiet on the snow. This is not easy in overly stiff or upright boots.

3) Keeping pressure on the nose so you can effectively steer with angulation and supplement it with pivot (pushing the lightly-loaded tail around with the back foot to make quick adjustments)

4) Looking a few bumps ahead. With enough mileage, your lower body will take care of the local detail to a great extent and your eyes and mind can be operating more strategically, making the lower body's task easier. It's a lot easier to be fluid and smooth if you have a few seconds of foresight.

It doesn't always sing - some days the balance is just off, the reflexes are a little slow, the light's too flat or something is tired, hurting or scared and causing flinching or stiffness. When it is singing, even if the beat is not constant there is a blissful sense of music and rhythm. I'm speaking of zipper-line style riding here - not making big swoopy turns covering multiple bumps.

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I find it a bit odd. The opener obviously has an issue with his technique and he gets recommendations about setup and gear. That's the wrong way.

Well, he asked a pretty gear related question and assumed that the gear components prevent him from performing technique properly... I think it's only fair to address the gear too. He did get plenty of good technique insights too, so it's all good.

As the matter of fact, we established, through gear conversation, that his setup is not ideal (apparat from the boots that were originally questioned). OP rides with unnecessary underhand and steeper angles then required on the particular board. Also he uses very stiff bindings for the given application, making the things unforgiving. Last, but not least, insisting on use of the particular binding may result in the longitudinal delam of that particular board, even if lower angles are used. I'd at least add a suspension kit to those. A local rider here uses Td3 elastomer with extra suspension kit under, with good success. I however go with an inherently floppy binding...

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I didn't read anyone's responsed. sorry. Anyhoo, my thoughts on bumps in hardboots is we ride it more like skiers. Think jump turns. That, for me, makes the difference in bumpy terrain. Making the transition from regular turns to jump turns will be tough, but wuill make you a better ruider.

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