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Tips for a Beginner


lonerider
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So I got tried out my alpine setup yesterday afternoon at Kirkwood. I didn't try it in the morning because of the 12-18 inches of snow that fell. However, by the afternoon I found some relatively groomed trails to start out on. I was on a Burton UP 162 with TD1 bindings riding 55,50 1" setback (3 degree plates). Thanks to Randy for setting up my gear.

On top of the hill

The first thing I encountered was that I had an extremely difficult tight getting into my back binding... first I had a great deal of trouble simply twist my back leg enough to line it up with the binding and THEN push it back into the heel bail so I could lock down the binding. Am I suppose to be getting into my bindings standing up? One problem I had with the bindings was that the heel bail spring just wasn't very springy or I was misaligned and my heel would push it down. I had to try and hold it up with my back hand as I slide my back foot into place (while twisting my body and legs a lot). That combined with the effort I needed to lock down the binding made getting into my board almost more tiring than riding on it.

Turning on the board

After getting into the board, I could get down the hill more or less, but it still feels like I'm learning how snowboard all over again (I've been riding in softboots for 8 years now). I could swing the board left and right and could even half enter some hard turns both heelside and toeside, but it was very sloppy and I was liable to slip out of the turn and skid or dig my nose into the thick powder and fall over if I psuhed it too hard. I attribute this to not being used to the setup. I don't feel like I can get any leverage at all on my edges and my whole body feel overtwisted... is that due to the high stance angles?

Body Position

However, the binding stance felt really awkward, it felt like my back leg was completely twisted inside. What direction are my hips suppose to be facing? In softboards my hip are are aligned with my front foot (I think) which makes then point almost perpendicular to the board since my angles are 18,3. I assume I started with that, but I remembered reading that you should have your shoulders and hips pointing down the hill. I tried that as well neither felt quite right. Reading the newbie articles on Bomber and ExtremeCarving implied I should have them in line with the bindings.

Stance Angles

I played with the angles... 50, 45... still felt twisted, 50, 35 feeling better but couldn't get into the carve, 55, 40... 65-50... and then I realized what Jack Michaud meant about having my angle too far apart and my knees "fighting each other." Still not quite sure what my angles should be, last night I set the front binding to 55 and left the back binding loose and then I clipped in and tried to get in a nice crouched position over the board. That gave me angles of 55-45. I read that you have like a 12 degree separation and the guys as "extremecarving.com" have like a 7 degree separation. Could I ride something like 45-38 to start out? Or should I say in the fifties range?

Boot/Binding Canting

Does that sound okay? I'm bowlegged and I'm naturally duck footed. As a result I tend to supinate (roll onto the outer edge of my foot) a lot - could the 3 degree disks be causing me problems since they might push my knees "together" more than I would want? It it naturally to feel like you back leg is really twisted whenever you bend your knees? Should I be adjusting the cant of my boots (I have Raichle SB224 boots)? What about the forward lean, I accidentally started out with 3 on the front and 3 on the back (I tried 4 on the back and it felt different, but my angles were all weird at the time).

Wrap up

Ok... well I am undaunted this challenge, but would love to get as much advice as possible before the next time I go out. Thanks for the help (and thanks again to Randy S. for all the help he has already given me)

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Hey Lonerider,

We have all been there on our first days. I plan to ride at Kirkwood this coming weekend maybe we can hook up (FRS radio 5/12).

My advice on binding angles: line up the bindings with boots attached so that there is no toe or heel overhang, the board width will determine the angles. Later on, you can adjust to steeper angles, if you want. Toe lift in the front and heel lift in the back, slight canting forward of the rear foot. Also, stance distance (binding to binding, measured from the center of each) will most likely be shorter than your soft boot setup.

Before you ride again, practice standing in your setup and getting in and out of the bindings to get them worn in a little, that should help a lot.

see you on the mtn,

Hugh

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Here's my feedback regarding my first day of hardbooting (also compared to what I do now). Just to let you know, I rode softies 5 years prior to hardbooting.

-Getting in: at first, I got in the bindings sitting, and yes, it is very hard this way, but now I dig a small notch in the snow with my board and stand to clip in (with regular bindings, no step-in). For the rear bail, I am lucky, mine won't go down, it always stays up.

-First turns: carving with soft boots and hard boots is quite different, the control is not the same. So I resorted to skidding my turns at first, then when I was comfortable with the feeling of the new board and hard boots, I started carving.

-Body position: this I can't say much, I did what I could back then, but now it is between aligned with the bindings and shoulders square to the board.

-Stance angles: this is with what I experimented the most. I started my first run 45-45, but after a couple of turns, I got out my screwdriver and changed to 51-51, which was way better. I augmented progressively with time (54-54, 57-57) and now ride 60-60. It is comfortable for riding, but sucks big time when sitting on the snow (I feel like my leg wants to get out of its socket), but my stance is for riding, not sitting, so I live with it. About the difference between the angles, equal angles are comfortable for me, but some like 3 to 5 degrees difference.

-Canting: this I am still experimenting (because of front leg burn). At first, it was flat in front, 7 on the back (Burton bindings). For the boots, it was most upright position in the front, and mid position in the back. It was comfortable, but control was not so good. I switched to 0-0 last winter with both boots in the most upright position (after reading EC webpage - no comments please). Comfort was good enough, control was better, front leg burn is still there. This winter, I am going to try 7-7 (with a stance 1.5" wider) and both boots in the most upright position. It is comfortable for carpetboarding, hope it goes well with actual snowboarding.

Hope it helps a little.

Derf

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Originally posted by lonerider

On top of the hill

The first thing I encountered was that I had an extremely difficult tight getting into my back binding...

This is an acquired skill that comes with practice. I find it's easier to do standing up, either on flat ground or holding on to something. If you have to do it sitting down, it is easier if you turn your hips toward the nose and actually sit not on your buttcheeks, but on the side of your hip. Make sure you have no snow on the bottom of your boot too.

Turning on the board

After getting into the board, I could get down the hill more or less, but it still feels like I'm learning how snowboard all over again (I've been riding in softboots for 8 years now). I could swing the board left and right and could even half enter some hard turns both heelside and toeside, but it was very sloppy and I was liable to slip out of the turn and skid or dig my nose into the thick powder and fall over if I psuhed it too hard. I attribute this to not being used to the setup. I don't feel like I can get any leverage at all on my edges and my whole body feel overtwisted... is that due to the high stance angles?

Don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like you may need to go back to your soft gear and make sure that you can really carve it. That is, can you do the Norm and carve your downhill edge on your soft gear? You should be able to carve thin tracks in your soft gear on the greens and maybe blues. Making the switch to a hard setup is much easier if you master carving your soft setup. Actually I'd say it's pretty much required. After you get that going, try some steeper angles on your soft gear, like 33/24. I remember the very first time I tried hardboots, I had only been boarding for 2 years on a Burton Elite 150. I hated them and swore I would never use them again. Then 2 years later after riding 3-strap bindings and a Burton Safari then a PJ, I tried them again and took off. I was in heaven. By that time, my softboots had been holding me back, and the hardboots opened the door to a new level. It doesn't sound like you've reached the limits of your soft gear yet. Of course, I could be wrong, I don't know how you ride.

Body Position

However, the binding stance felt really awkward, it felt like my back leg was completely twisted inside. What direction are my hips suppose to be facing? In softboards my hip are are aligned with my front foot (I think) which makes then point almost perpendicular to the board since my angles are 18,3. I assume I started with that, but I remembered reading that you should have your shoulders and hips pointing down the hill. I tried that as well neither felt quite right. Reading the newbie articles on Bomber and ExtremeCarving implied I should have them in line with the bindings.

Like I said, try to get carving on your soft gear and try steeper angles there first. Going from 18/3 to 55/50 cold-turkey is a quantum leap.

As for facing down the hill, that is technically incorrect. Relative to the hill, you want your alignment to rotate with the board as it travels along its arc. That is, either face your bindings or face the nose of the board, but whichever you do, maintain this alignment throughout the carve. It is a common mistake to simply face downhill for the duration of a heelside carve. This is bad for your balance.

Whether you align your body with your binding angles or with the nose of the board is personal preference. HOWEVER, people who have the bad habit of facing downhill deeply etched in memory, typically continue to face downhill when they think they're facing their bindings. The only way to overcome this is to exaggerate the forward rotation, meaning, face the nose of the board. A good way to get yourself to do this is to drive (what used to be) your trailing hand forward and down over the nose as you enter a heelside turn, and continue to drive it forward throughout the carve. This is how it's done (cmc):

cmc1.jpg

Stance Angles

I played with the angles... 50, 45... still felt twisted, 50, 35 feeling better but couldn't get into the carve, 55, 40... 65-50... and then I realized what Jack Michaud meant about having my angle too far apart and my knees "fighting each other." Still not quite sure what my angles should be,

The "correct" angles to start with are those at which your boots do not protrude beyond the edges of the board. This often results in parallel or near parallel angles. Since you won't be tilting your board up super high as a newbie, you can get away with a little overhang.

I read that you have like a 12 degree separation and the guys as "extremecarving.com" have like a 7 degree separation.

I don't recall seeing anyone here recommending 12 degrees separation, and it certainly wasn't me. That's too much in my opinion, unless you are naturally extra duck-footed.

Since you mention the EC site so much, I have to say that I think their newbie info can be confusing. This is partly due to english being their second language, and also because the site overall is promoting a very advanced style of carving that has nothing to do with teaching people to carve. Do not even think of riding like those guys until you are well advanced. It seems to me that they give some conflicting advice. One one page they tell you never to face the nose of the board, while on another and in most of their pictures and movies they are totally facing the nose.

Boot/Binding Canting

Does that sound okay? I'm bowlegged and I'm naturally duck footed. As a result I tend to supinate (roll onto the outer edge of my foot) a lot - could the 3 degree disks be causing me problems since they might push my knees "together" more than I would want?

YES. Should have sprung for the TD2's, they have adjustable cant. But you can rig your TD1's to get you maybe what you want, or hopefully close to it. Since you have a Burton 3-hole pattern, you can rotate your TD discs in 60 degree increments. Rotate your back disc 60 degrees towards the toe edge. If you are super bow-legged, rotate the front disc 60 degrees as well. That is, you want your rear disc to be sloping towards the toe edge and the front disc towards the heel edge. If that is too much, you can return the disc(s) to the standard orientation (discs sloping towards each other), and sandwich pennies or nickels or dimes between the toe/heel pads and the baseplate. Do this on one side of the pads to achieve some canting. Only use one layer of coins. Do not stack any coins. NOTE: the manufacturer does not endorse the coin method. Make sure your screws are TOYGHT!!

Should I be adjusting the cant of my boots (I have Raichle SB224 boots)? What about the forward lean, I accidentally started out with 3 on the front and 3 on the back (I tried 4 on the back and it felt different, but my angles were all weird at the time).

You should experiment. You should adjust the cant of your boots to suit your, um, bowlegged-ness. Most people like minimum forward lean on the front boot and more on your back boot.

To wrap up, I can't overemphasize the importance of being able to carve on your soft gear first. Knowing what a real carve feels like before you try completely different equipment will give you a huge head start. This may only happen on the steeper greens, but that's fine. And for the love of Pete, DON'T head for the top of the mountain when you set out to learn your new gear. Start on the greens (not the baby hill though). You can't learn to carve when you're scared by excessive speed. You need to practice on a slope that will give you enough speed to lean into a turn, but not so much that you slip into self-preservation mode.

I hope this helps, keep us posted.

-Jack

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.

Before you ride again, practice standing in your setup and getting in and out of the bindings to get them worn in a little, that should help a lot.

I actually spent a good hour in my own living room locked into my board feeling out the stance a few weeks ago (in preparation for the season). I set it to 55-45 after locking in the front foot at 55 and then seeing what was a comfortable stance. I realized that Randy adjusted my angles to 55,50 just before I rode the board and that I didn't try out that stance to see how it felt. I had forgotten to mention to him that I am bow-legged and naturally pretty duck footed (my physical therapist wants me to try and *slowly* straight my standing stance over time... but still let me feet sit naturally for my body type). For instance, just sitting at the computer, my feet are 20-30 degrees apart.

Don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like you may need to go back to your soft gear and make sure that you can really carve it. That is, can you do the Norm and carve your downhill edge on your soft gear? You should be able to carve thin tracks in your soft gear on the greens and maybe blues. Making the switch to a hard setup is much easier if you master carving your soft setup. Actually I'd say it's pretty much required. After you get that going, try some steeper angles on your soft gear, like 33/24. I remember the very first time I tried hardboots, I had only been boarding for 2 years on a Burton Elite 150. I hated them and swore I would never use them again. Then 2 years later after riding 3-strap bindings and a Burton Safari then a PJ, I tried them again and took off. I was in heaven. By that time, my softboots had been holding me back, and the hardboots opened the door to a new level. It doesn't sound like you've reached the limits of your soft gear yet. Of course, I could be wrong, I don't know how you ride.

No worries, one must always have a bit of humility when starting something new. That being said, I felt like I am a decent carver on softboots, I was riding a Salomon Definition 156 last season and I could take it down the slopes at high speeds in single line trenches that are deep enough to be identified from the chair lift (especially on Sunshine Chair 4 at Kirkwood). I've been able to carve up hill and make a tear drop shaped trench, although it isn't a true carve by the time I'm turning back down hill. I've also such that my friend comment they notice the bump whenever they ride over them. That being said, I mostly imitated a eurocarve, being able to get 6-12 inches above the ground while extending my arms "outward" away from my board to get more of my weight directly over the edge (as opposed to trying to actually reach down and touch the snow). Halfway through last season I watched a video with a alpine boarder (some GS racer) and I noticed he didn't bring his front hand over his board on the toeside like the eurocarvers I've seen do. It looked more balanced and stable and so I've been doing that since. My main problem is that on a fast run I'm a little sloppy transitioning to my heelside edge, like I there is a faint bit of hesistation in the board when I'm at high speeds before the nose-sidish part of the heelside edge initiates the turn. I've increased my forward lean to nearly the highest setting my board has and that help a bit.

I have ridden higher angles like 45-30, but kept 18-3 (maybe 21-6) as part of my freestyle beginnings. I think I'm going to try 45-35 on my softboot setup next weekend just to make sure I'm not just rusty on top of everything as you suggested.

As for facing down the hill, that is technically incorrect. Relative to the hill, you want your alignment to rotate with the board as it travels along its arc. That is, either face your bindings or face the nose of the board, but whichever you do, maintain this alignment throughout the carve. It is a common mistake to simply face downhill for the duration of a heelside carve. This is bad for your balance.

Ok... so yea I've read there are like a bunch of different styles... on "Swiss" (CERN?) style involved squaring your shoulders downhill and never changing... I briefly tried that but it doesn't feel right. My main method was to point my hips in the same direction as my front foot. Back to the video I saw with the GS racer. I try to make a "pitchfork" pattern with my arms.. arms out to my sides, elbows bent so that my forearms are parallel with the board like liek the shape of capital "E" When I go into a carve my forearms slowly swing in the direction of the turn. My thought is that this twists my shoulders a little bit and from that my hips will twist in the direction I want too.

The "correct" angles to start with are those at which your boots do not protrude beyond the edges of the board. This often results in parallel or near parallel angles. Since you won't be tilting your board up super high as a newbie, you can get away with a little overhang.

Yea, I think that was like 55-50 as Randy S. setup my binding initial. I too also figure that a little overhand couldn't hurt intially and so wanted to do a little less so it would be more like what I was used to. The time I roughly 45-30 was becase I had too much overhand and toe drag was causing me to pop out of the carve (unusual size I have short feet - size 8).

YES. Should have sprung for the TD2's, they have adjustable cant. But you can rig your TD1's to get you maybe what you want, or hopefully close to it.

Yea I know! I bought the TD1's at the end of last season because they were on sale. Had I known they were going to come out with the TD2's I would have waited. Maybe I can sell my TD1s (only half a day use) and get the TD2's in January.

Start on the greens (not the baby hill though). You can't learn to carve when you're scared by excessive speed. You need to practice on a slope that will give you enough speed to lean into a turn, but not so much that you slip into self-preservation mode.

I actually started on the mellow-ist and emptiest blue I knew, I wanted to try the green, but there was only one green open and it was jam packed with beginners... and I figured I would be better off in a wide open slow blue with no one else in sight than a green with lots of beginners falling over in the heavy powder. I figured the 2 feet of heavy powder (even though it was somewhat packed down by the afternoon) might have made things a little awkward as well.

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Originally posted by lonerider

My main problem is that on a fast run I'm a little sloppy transitioning to my heelside edge, like I there is a faint bit of hesistation in the board when I'm at high speeds before the nose-sidish part of the heelside edge initiates the turn. I've increased my forward lean to nearly the highest setting my board has and that help a bit.

Sounds like you're riding the tail on initiation. You want to solve that with working on centering up between your bindings, rather than locking your boot forward (I'm assuming you're referring to lean adjustment in the boot here).

To help eliminate that pause to heelside and get the board on edge faster, think about coming across the board hip-first on the transition...essentially, "falling on your hip" on heelside, or similar to bumping a car door closed with your hip. If you fall or pop out of the carve on heelside, think about the last thing you were looking at...it was likely downhill, across the toeside edge, rather than the direction the board was travelling (as Jack mentions above).

I have ridden higher angles like 45-30, but kept 18-3 (maybe 21-6) as part of my freestyle beginnings. I think I'm going to try 45-35 on my softboot setup next weekend just to make sure I'm not just rusty on top of everything as you suggested.

I went the jump-to-high-binding-angles route, while my wife eased into it by bumping in 3-degree increments. I highly recommend going the incremental way (particularly since you're carving well in softboots). Start off at your old angles on your softgear setup, but add 3 to 6 degrees to the rear. Take a run, then repeat until the rear is within 5 - 10 degrees of the front...if a 12-degree split feels comfy, go with that. Now, start bumping both the front and rear together in 3 to 6 degree increments up to 45 in the front. Then switch to the hardboot setup with 50F and a similar 5-degree bump at the rear.

joe...

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Sounds like you're riding the tail on initiation. You want to solve that with working on centering up between your bindings, rather than locking your boot forward (I'm assuming you're referring to lean adjustment in the boot here).

First the above thing is for softboots so you know.

Yes, I what I'm doing is a "cross-over" where like I stand up out of the toeside (popping of the tail flex) and then crouch back down again on my front hip (helps initiate the heelside at the front part of the board). The problem is that if I'm carving hard and fast, this shift of weight off the back leg from the end of the previous carve and onto the front leg of the next carve is too slow and imprecise where like "falling on my hip" is a little sloppy as I feel there is excessive movement going on for such a subtle change. I think I need to do more of a "cross-through" as it states in the Bomber Article.

Thanks for the advice though!

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I run 55/50 angles. Separation is a matter of taste, I think. I ran 45/30 for a long time (on wider boards) and liked it. It started to bother my knee after a while, now my "wide" board (23cm) is set at 45/40. But if your feet are ducky, 15ish is probably reasonable.

For the longest time I alternated between 3 and 4, and couldn't decide which I preferred (often 4 front 3 rear). I but have been experimenting a lot with both boots set to 5 for about a year now. It forces me to be more upright, which felt a bit weird at first but I like it the more I do it. I guess the moral here is, do what feels good. More boot lean is probably better at first, to help keep your CG low, for stability.

For carving, I try to keep my shoulders facing forward (relative to the board, not the hill). For moguls or short-swing skidding turns, I try to keep my shoulders facing the fall line as much as possible (no matter where the board is pointing). I don't think much about the angle of my hips so much as the placement - hips over the board, not to the inside.

I try to keep my 'rear' hand forward of my knees at least, often I put both hands forward like riding one of those razor scooters. Shred suggested the 'trailing hand forward' thing to me here a couple years ago and my heelside carves instantly improved. For me it was the key to good posture.

Getting in is easier when standing. As someone else said, if sitting, lean on your front hipbone, rather than your tailbone. This gets your hips aligned with the bindings.

It it naturally to feel like you back leg is really twisted whenever you bend your knees?

No, something isn't right. Have you tried putting your boots on, latching in, and try standing and crouching with some different shoulder and hip angles? And tinker with your binding setup as much as you want. It should be possible to crouch and stand comfortably.

And about setback... I moved my stance forward a couple cm last season, and a couple cm further this season. Now I'm about 1-2cm behind center. When my stance was further back, I had to lean forward as I crouched, a lot like the photo Jack posted. As my stance has moved forward, I need to bend more at the knees and less at the hips, or my weight gets too far forward. I'm not sure if that's inherently more difficult or just now what I'm used to, but it's been a bit of a challenge. Leaning forward to lower my CG just came naturally... Moving my stance forward, bending at the knees, and keeping my spine more upright, has been an experiment, and it's a little awkward.

1" doesn't sound to me like much setback. If your comfortable crouch has significantly more weight on your front foot than on your back foot, you might want to move your stance back another inch or so - that will have your weight more centered on the board when you get into that comfy crouch.

I'm curious what other people think about the connection between setback and crouch posture and weight distribution.

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