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Racing on icy courses


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I need some guidance. I'm having a good year racing on the board as long as good snow conditions are present but that all goes out the window on icy courses. Ice doesn't bother me racing on skis. My technique is pretty good, I pick a good line, and I generally have an extra advantage on my competitors. On the board I don't have the same confidence maybe because I'm thinking I have half the number of edges making contact. In any event I wind up doing a lot of skidding even when picking a good line.

I'm trying to lower my center of mass and angulate the upper body away from the gate. Most of the time, the results are less than desirable.

Any suggestions?

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Edges are sharp and well maintained?

What's your base and side angles?

What's your binding angles?

You'll see the "Doctor" this week (ECES)... he'll likely have input.

While you do have one less edge when snowboarding you have all of your weight on that edge, so you have that going for ya'. :-D

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In less than ideal conditions the rule is ride a plate. If you can make a comparison on an icy day of freeriding try riding with and without and determine for yourself how much grip you can get from a plate on ice. You must commit to you turns ! Pad up and enjoy . Most people just pass on riding on icy days but I consider them learning days.

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Focus on smoother transitions. If you make a sudden movement to a new edge you will slide until you slow down enough for it to catch. If you smoothly roll on the next edge, and then angulate your edge up more vertical so its gripping into the snow (flexing ankles on heel side or powering down through your knees on toeside), things will slide less.

Adding a plate will help a good deal.

I like a 3 (87) degree side edge angle - that helps a lot with ice.

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Clearly this won't do you any good this year, but here's some food for thought, in the event you are not already familiar:


Other things to consider:

A board with softer flex will follow the contours better.

Stiffer in torsion will be more consistent through the arc. Try not to twist your sled.

More camber matched with the 'right' flex will hold better, also improving feedback to the rider from the surface.

'Loose' legs, free to give and take, work better than legs held in a grunty clench.

Stealth, and a light hand, will take the day before bluster and clamor.

Optimize your boot/binding configuration.

Ride crap conditions whenever possible. This means icy bumps, old race course ruts, frozen chicken heads, death cookies, etc. Then do similar with slightly compromised eyewear.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Icy courses really show off your bad habits ! Your balance needs to be centering your bodies downward force onto your edge . If your leaning too far in / drop your inside shoulder , or hand you'll be skidding out right away ! Level shoulders , boardside hand driving pressure towards the feet , and independent knees/ legs working strong. Last thing , never be tentative on ice , drive that edge in and go ! If your Squimish and indescisive your gonna be late on initiating your turn and the and that just compounds the problem.

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I had a race today on pure ice and sugar sand. I had the third slowest time and the second fastest, but I completed the course without missing a gate or falling on both runs. There were a LOT of DQ's and DNF's. The key is much like dancing... "Quick quick slow, quick quick slow".

*Quick centering of weight on the edge

*Quick transition over the fall line,

*Slow rotation thru the turn

I relied heavily on the back leg also for edge establishment and re-engagement if the front was not able to bite.

Not sure if this helps, but it was a frustrating day for me, and Boilerplate / berkshire blue ICE is indeed something very "unique" to the Northeast.

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Some of my fastest races were on boilerplate ice...and this was before the usage of plates

Committ to the edge. All of the other comments above are great about proper angulation, shoulders remaining level, edge sharpness, etc. Ice riding can be fun, when you make that perfect turn and hear the woosh of carving a perfect arc through "blue" ice, its an addictive feeling.

Although I now live on the west coast, I do sometimes miss the Ice-coast riding...don't tell my wife!

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