Jump to content

New Rider Seeking Advice (Softboot)


Noobster
 Share

Recommended Posts

Greetings from west Michigan. After 30 years of skiing, instructing and occasionally racing, I'm going full hog into snowboarding. My aim is to get into clean carving of greens, maybe blues, on a softboot setup. I can get to my local hill several times a week and prefer the last hour under the lights. And took my first lesson the day of this video.

I realize this board is oriented mostly towards hardbooting, which is rad, but I'm not ready for that yet.

My setup could be too much for me so I've also got a beginner board. On the video I'm riding my Nidecker Blade 158 with NX2 CX's. My boots are Burton Photons, size 9.5. I am totally guessing about where to set my angles. On this video I was using 30F/18R. Later that weekend I settled with 27F/15R after some carpet riding with the screws loose. I don't have any injuries but my knees can get irritated with too much torqueing so I'm liking a little bit of forgiveness in my boots for ankle ROM.

One takeaway I have in mind from my video is that my highbacks were way too aggressive (cranked all the way forward) and I can't really tip over into the heelside. Does that make sense? Any suggestions on setup or exercises, or posture or whatever would be appreciated.

-Ry

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no softboot expert but in general, you need to tilt your board up on edge more.  Both on heel and toe side, it is staying relatively flat to the snow with respect to the angle your body is leaning at.

On heelside, the main thing that helps with generating that angle is forward lean on the high backs, so I would not reduce it if I were you.

On the positive side, you are looking pretty good for such little time on a snowboard.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, you're doing a good job of getting the board to carve for being so new, so that's pretty rad. I'll also add that a few professional lessons never hurt, even if it isn't carving focused. Just getting comfortable riding and very proficient at linking skidded turns will help your carving (mainly by allowing you to focus solely on carving and not on staying upright and such).

One thing that jumped out at me was your back hand, and by extension your shoulders, during your heelside carve. Notice how on toesides your back hand is somewhat forward and your shoulders are pointed towards the nose of the board at least somewhat, then on a heelside your back hand drops back and your shoulders become parallel with the board. Try to keep your shoulders more aligned with the front of the board on heelsides (focus on keeping that back hand forward). At a minimum they should be aligned with your feet, but play around to see if turning them even more towards the nose helps. Reading some of the stuff  here (bomber technique articles) and here (Carver's almanac) might be of use. Some of it's old and all hardboot focused, but it's still worth a read for general things such as body positioning, drills, etc. Ryan Knapton's youtube channel is also good.

As far as binding setup goes, I'd caution against reducing the forward lean on your highbacks. The highbacks are mainly what transfers the force from your leg to the board, so they need to be touching your boot before they can work. If the forward lean is relaxed, this force transfer can only really happen when your legs are upright, meaning your knees are straight, which will limit your riding eventually. If your highbacks are angled forward, then they allow you to pressure the edge while still keeping your knees bent in a nice, athletic stance. On a related note, it's a good idea to see if you can rotate your highbacks so that they are parallel to the edge of the board (they likely aren't based on your stance angles).

Edit: Check to see if your boots/binding overhang the edge of your board. If they do, you'll need to fix that at some point down the road. A properly wide board is the best option, but riser plates can work ok too if they're high enough.

Edited by staples156
Added more info
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those are some fairly smooth linked turns, so you are well on you way.  I would say the first thing to work on is to relax.  You are stiff as a board, and are kind of teetering into each turn.  Softer knees and ankles will allow you to initiate turns with more subtle lower body body movements, like pushing down/lifting up on the toes instead of using the tongue and highback.  Also relaxing your upper body, especially your arms, will lower your CG, which will also help.  Relaxing your body when you are terrified is tough, but will make a big difference.  What area was that filmed?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, Noobster said:

One takeaway I have in mind from my video is that my highbacks were way too aggressive (cranked all the way forward) and I can't really tip over into the heelside. 

 

17 hours ago, Noobster said:

Does that make sense?

Yes, it does. Good observation.

 

17 hours ago, Noobster said:

Any suggestions on setup or exercises, or posture or whatever would be appreciated.

 

1. You've got 30 years on snow, so it's ok to follow your intuition regarding the highback adjustment etc.

2. Follow this link https://beckmannag.com/softboot-snowboard, read through the content under the instruction and setup headers. 

3. Get in touch via this contact page. I have a few ideas to hasten your progress.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Deuxdiesel said:

Those are some fairly smooth linked turns, so you are well on you way.  I would say the first thing to work on is to relax.  You are stiff as a board, and are kind of teetering into each turn.  Softer knees and ankles will allow you to initiate turns with more subtle lower body body movements, like pushing down/lifting up on the toes instead of using the tongue and highback.  Also relaxing your upper body, especially your arms, will lower your CG, which will also help.  Relaxing your body when you are terrified is tough, but will make a big difference.  What area was that filmed?

Yeah for sure I was stiff and riding really cautiously. I think I'm getting a little better. Each day seems like progress at this level. The video was filmed on the Double Chair run at Cannonsburg, Michigan. Thanks for your suggestions - I especially like your idea about pushing and lifting my toes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You do have a good feeling for the edge and a almost "clean" carve already. Which is a perfect start. The rest will come with practice. Loosening the body, tilting the board a bit more. Initiating the turn with Power from the ground up (toes, ankles, knees, hips). 

Nice board by the way! The new Nidecker Blade Plus I guess...?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/18/2022 at 12:53 PM, wulf said:

You do have a good feeling for the edge and a almost "clean" carve already. Which is a perfect start. The rest will come with practice. Loosening the body, tilting the board a bit more. Initiating the turn with Power from the ground up (toes, ankles, knees, hips). 

Nice board by the way! The new Nidecker Blade Plus I guess...?

Thanks! Just the regular 158cm Blade. I actually spent a few evening sessions on a 151cm Burton Cruzer this week just to see if a beginner board might help my confidence. That plus some really good snow - tossed up end of day stuff and no ice - has really helped me get further into the turns. I'm sure you all can relate to the simple joy of looking back up the hill and admiring your skinny s-shaped tracks. Wow!

But... last night it finally got icy and the little Cruzer was not enough board. And I'm feeling ready to get back on the Blade and hopefully slice the ice. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great advice all around here as always. Stay loose, stay in a box (knees and ankles bent in a strong ready position) get some more speed and play with rolling the edge over a bit more. Go into traverses toeside and heelside and increase the pressure to the edge until you turn uphill and come to a stop. Feeling the edge dig in and bite more and playing with that pressure. Repeat.... and check your "6" for straigtliners and other traffic.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My instructor was out sick, so I had someone else take video after another week of practicing. Conditions were ideal. Since the first video at week 2, I've ridden nearly every night. I like riding under the lights for visibility and the crowds diminish quickly. Also, my instructor suggested trying an easier board, so I grabbed cheap Burton Cruzer and it seems like it helps a lot with confidence.

In the video I see a few things to try and address. One, I'm bending at the hip TOO much on my toe sides, not moving my knees and hips into the turn (angulating instead of inclining?). Two, I'm hardly engaging my highbacks AT ALL on my heel sides, although that seems like my stronger side. Also, I was doing some knee pinching - not sure that's the best way to try and tighten the turns.

It's not easy starting over in snowsports after achieving a degree of mastery but I think "future me" will be really happy if I keep putting in the work. I guess one overriding takeaway is that I need MUCH bigger edge angles to really carve. Does anyone have suggestions? Should I get on a steeper grade and do more carve traverses?

 

Edited by Noobster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steeper terrain will automatically increase your edge angles, but there are some things you can try before making that commitment.  Practice some garlands while traversing where you are engaging the same edge over and over.  Continue to focus on vertical movement, as you are still pretty static throughout much of your turns.  You are correct that you are folding over at the waist on the toe side turn- think more about driving your knees into the snow to increase the edge angle as opposed to reaching for it with your upper body.  As far as the highbacks go, you may not be using them much at this point, but you will eventually- if they are just touching the backs of your boots when you are in a neutral stance, then it should be fine for now.  One other thing- your lines in the snow don't lie- you are carving!  And for as little time as you have spent trying this aspect of snowboarding, you are doing great.  From here it's mostly mileage with little tweaks along the way.  Check your PM's.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could I get some input please on a question about heelside carving?

I've noticed that when I get flexed into my toe side, keep an open or forward stance, I can feel my right torso kinda stretching as I "angulate." It's been a useful queue, along with driving my knees. I'm actually at the point where I'm getting a hand to the snow on the toeside without as much reach as week 3's video.

However, on the heelside, is there a comparable stretching feeling or queue? I've watched countless videos of softboot carving and do a lot of carpet riding with a mirror. It seems like the comparable heelside stretch is in the left hammie and glute as I'm flexing at the hips, and trying keep my butt kinda towards the back. The front leg extends but the back leg stays more flexed. Does that make sense?

Also, when I've really pushed it on the heelside, flexing a lot at the hips and extending my front leg, reaching down to touch the snow, sometimes the board starts to get kinda jammed on edge and bounces around. Am I doing something wrong?

Edited by Noobster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi N
I will leave others to discuss the actual body mechanics but I was facing issues last season and started this thread, which has a lot of good advice and insights into the process:

 

Not sure why the embedded link is showing skiing 🙂

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There’s way more mechanical differences between toe and heel side in softies. As a softy neophyte I am still working it out. 
In hard boots my mantra is back knee to the snow, front hand to the front boot for toeside. On heelside, front knee to the snow, back hand to the front boot. Don’t have an equivalent for softy carving yet. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, I just watched your week 2 video and then the week 4 video back to back and you're doing way better. You look way more steady and those wobbly, less controlled movements are basically gone. Plus you're still making clean carves. One thing I'd suggest to try (assuming traffic allows*) is to hold your carves longer than in your week 4 video so you cut a bit more across the hill. That will give you more time to feel what's going on and focus on what's happening between edge transitions. As far as feeling like you're sitting down on heelsides, I think that mainly comes from using a cross over style where your legs are extended at the edge transition (unweighting the edge) and reach maximum bend mid turn. When you change edges, your body moves up and over (or across) the board, hence the name. This means you're basically standing up when you change edges and indeed sort of sitting into the turn. I don't think this is necessarily a bad technique early on and might even be easier to learn. The opposite of this would be cross under, where you're knees are at max bend when transitioning edges and mostly straighten out mid turn (keep some bend in them). When you start a turn it feels like using your legs to drive the board away from you and press the edge into the snow and then sucking it back underneath you when you change edges, pulling it away from the snow to unweight it at the transition. Here your body stays "stationary" and your board crossed underneath you, hence the name. There's also cross through, but I'm not even going to try and explain that in text form.

As far as your last post about sensations to watch out for or target, I'll try and think about this if I get out riding this weekend. I haven't been out for a few weeks, so it's not too fresh in my mind. I know in the past I've focused on the side of my body that's getting compressed  (so right side on a heelside turn if you're regular). The feeling I was targeting was almost as if I was trying to pinch something between my hip bone and rib cage, although that was for turns that were fairly cranked over, so it will be less extreme if you're not dragging a hip on the snow.

 

*since you're still learning and likely to be distracted by the learning process, don't chance it; wait for an empty run.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback! I didn't post "week 4" because it seemed a bit dull. We should have video'd the steeper pitch. My instructor was having me do up-unweighted turns to change edges more quickly and looking for both sides of the edges in the transition from torsional twist. Fun to try but I'm not sold on up unweighting. The next days I tried down unweighting or push pull (?) and it felt easier to tip the board sooner. Although I'm still feeling like my heelsides resemble the "squatty potty." 

Something I think I'm noticing advanced softboot carvers use is a pronounced back leg knee bend, coming into the heelside and through the fall line, along with a lot of hip flexion as they reach down and forward. Like you said, pinching something between the ribs and hips. That, and a video by Malcolm Moore where he suggests loosening the front binding straps to encourage your back leg to do more, are some things I'd like to practice this week. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Week 5 update... I think I had an epiphany recently. Delving into video analysis, talking with my instructor, and putting a concept together about that back leg. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my thought is that the back leg is like a rudder. We want to swing it out (externally rotate) and drive the knee down towards the toe side turn. Then the leg swings inboard (internally rotates) transitioning into heel side.

Practicing this, I think it began helping me begin to resemble the position I see the great riders using on their heel sides - and avoiding the "squatty potty." So, I've got an hour or two working on this refinement of my back leg, captured in the week 5 video. I plan to keep working on this.

However, my instructor commented that I'm using too much upper body to tip into my toe sides, and not enough lower body. We worked on this and the improvement seemed to help me get on toe side edge earlier, higher in the turn. I also practiced trying to pull myself down to the board when transitioning from heel to toe. A retraction if I'm correct. I'd like to refine this action too.

I'm having a ton of fun with learning to carve. The performance even riding an old board (Burton Cruiser) for me at least is already much greater than I accomplished after 30+ years of skiing. 

In summary, I plan to work on: using back leg more actively, tip to toe side with legs, less upper body lean and get on edge earlier. Also should note that I'm riding steeper slopes now than the video, which seems to make some things easier, but some things harder - or really just helps identify areas to improve.

Angles were 33/24. I upped the rear binding to 27 yesterday.

 

Edit: I think ideally, both legs should be rotating a bit (not just back leg) and knees remain about the same distance apart - no pinching (?).

Edited by Noobster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice heel side!

To improve the toe side:

Get on the toe edge using ankles and knees. Hips forward, knees down towards snow, upright upper body. Front hand not to cross the board, preferably on your butt, behind your knee, or on highback. Trailing hand up, away from the snow. 

Try this drill: Stand still on your toe edge, perpendicular to the hill (moderately steep), hips and shoulders facing the binding angles. Get slowly down, holding the upright upper body, looking up the slope or to the sky, until your rear knee is on the snow. Then get up slowly. Cannot use the hands at all. Replicate those feelings in your toe side turn, earlier in the turn the better. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you all for the terrific feedback. I've been working on that toe side posture and have week 6 and 7 update videos:

This was near perfect snow, and riding under the lights helps a lot. Riding with a selfie stick was totally new to me, as is setting up an action camera. 

Snow here was challenging. We had a rain event 3 days ago and then a deep freeze. Then they groomed it and blew snow on top for a nice crust. I really didn't want to push the angles much further for fear of digging the nose into the crust. 

I'm having so much fun. Switching to snowboarding is one of the best decisions ever. I feel like I just need some awesome sauce at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share



  • Recently Browsing

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...