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RJ_

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About a year ago I began wondering if there were a ski with bindings mounted one in front of the other. I enjoy water-skiing and quickly learned there were much  cooler and carvier boards out there. After some hiccups I ended up closing out my season hitting the mountain with 2 SkwalUSA Carver 171's each with the SkwalUSA Gen 2 bindings. 

I cant say im laying fat carves yet, but after about 8 days out riding skwal this season im at the point where more time on the hill could help, but not as much as riding with someone on skwal. I have a ton of questions about my form, if there are better techniques i could be using, and just general knowledge thats just difficult to find about this niche sport.

I was fortunate enough to meet a gentleman on my local mountain with a hardboot setup on his donek. I carved with him for a few hours and learned a ton about alpine equipment, hardboots, and the various step-in bindings. But it has really made me want to skwal with some who can teach about form and speak to the fine adjustments skwal equipment has to offer. 

Are there any good resources (more than reading through old forum posts) about form and technique to riding skwal?

And lastly, is there anyone else near upstate ny that rides skwal?

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I think most skwallers around here are converted snowboarders, so we use snowboard carving technique. That implies wider stances and snowboard boots since the ski boots limit available stance widths dramatically.

Any carving technique may be adapted onto skwal, so you can pick one that you like and try to learn it.

Some information about the skwal technique may be found on skwalzone.org (in french). It's not much though.

I live in NYC and I never seen any skwallers on the closest mountains. However I usually don't ride that far north.

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Thias had some instructional stuff at the end of the Skwalmasutra film he put out some time ago. You can find the video online at this link. Forward to 21:50 to view the instructional part of the video. I would also suggest picking up a copy of the book 'The Inner Glide: The Tao of Skiing, Snowboarding, and Skwalling' by Patrick Thias Balmain. Lots of great techniques in this book and most are universally adaptable through the carving arts. Amazon usually has it available.

I don't get up north as much as I used to as I have three younger kids now. Every once in a blue moon I am with my crew at Mount Snow. Its been a while since I've been to Stratton or Okemo or anywhere else up north. I find great terrain in Massachusetts so its hard to justify a longer roadtrip at higher ticket prices most times.

I'd be happy to entertain an idea of a private instructional meetup somewhere. Shoot me a PM if you want to arrange something like that. I am also trying to loosely organize a New England Skwal Meetup for this season. There is a form on my site you can fill out to help gauge interest in the event. https://aceskwal.com/

@skhil hit the nail on the head as far as adapting techniques from alpine. I always advocate for spreading the stance out to help with stability.

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The Skwal USA bindings you have have lift but no lateral tilt. With one foot in front of the other that aligns your legs below the knees but places stresses the knee joint. You may find that canting the cuffs of your ski boots outwards reduces that stress and makes for more comfort and helps with increasing your stance length.

Your rear leg needs a bit more range of movement than your front when moving your centre of mass up and down, so buckling your rear boot cuff a little looser than the front may be helpful.

I have a Skwal USA Powder Skwal and ride it at the max stance its inserts allow, around 47cm binding centre to binding centre. For comparison I'm 182cm tall and legs maybe 2cm longer than average for that height.  The board is wider than a standard Skwal and I ride it regular stance with bindings at 85 front and 80 degrees rear.

When I first started riding it I used ski poles for a while to help me get the feel of things. Leaning into the turns like I was riding a motorbike soon had me carving highly inclined carves.

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These are all incredibly helpfull tips!

@*Ace* I am already making arrangements to get out to the northeast skwal meet up!

@SunSurfer This is exactly the tips I was looking for! I am absolutely loving carving like this and want to make sure my form and stance aren't hurting my joints unnecessarily. I have tried to focus on being able to ride consistently before I adjust my setup so that i notice the difference it makes, and after how well i felt this weekend i think im ready to play with it!

@skhil I didn't widen my stance yesterday but I will be the next time I ride. Ive gotten a lot more comfortable on the board and am eager to start putting more power into it. Ive been finding it very easy to load up the nose of the board, but very difficult to control the unload (ive done quite a few cartwheels over the past weeks). I am hoping that by spreading the stance that I get more control over the nose.

As a college student in ny i do have a ski3, unfortunately i am out of town this weekend and wont be able to join you at Bellaire

Thanks for all the great information! I will keep you updated on how my stance progresses and how it feels

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  • 2 weeks later...

I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun I had this afternoon! I rode Gore mountain as i usually do, it felt pretty hard in the morning. When I clipped up my boots in the morning i did leave my rear foot cuff loose but i couldn't really notice a difference, I was reeally struggling to get low and keep my balance low, slid out so many times. I went in for an early lunch, decided that I had enough of a feel for the board that i could play with the bindings and notice the differences. All i did was cant my rear boot outwards to bring my rear knee outwards, less inline. 

If u had been anywhere on the mountain you would have been able to hear my excitement riding down after lunch! With my rear knee canted out i could actually put the loose rear cuff to work, bringing my rear knee next to my front. Doing this I could and get significantly lower on the board. I also felt like i had much better control over my edge pressure, even on the ice i wasn't sliding nearly as much.

I was having an absolute blast, hopping into and out of the slush piles that had built up in the middles on the trails, truly laying over as I came out of the piles, only to whip right around back into it. I still haven't gotten over how exciting it was to carve down the same trails i had been struggling with earlier in the day when i made my way back over to the harder pack/icier side of the mountain. The binding setup made all the difference,  thanks @SunSurfer !

Also got to meet Steve ( @ronals finally caught up to you, ive only seen your green donek everytime ive been out this season); as well as his son, out on some of the hardboot setup they picked up!

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Whiteface Wednesday report:

Conditions were good for Whiteface (groomed ice with 1-2" o snow atop)

Felt decent in the morning, struggled a bit to keep the right edge pressure. Conditions were nice to reduce the chatter, though I sank quickly in a few sections of powder. I think a lot of the chatter and edge pressure issues came from my boots, my well worn ski boots have lived me 8 seasons now and i am at the max for how tight i can get the boot, the liners are very packed. I felt like a lot of the times i chattered out the board was primarily just moving the boot around my foot, making it difficult for me to try and regain control over the board (and my boot)

The afternoon was similar, i got to know where the good and bad conditions existed and worked to bring my weight lower and push more into my edge throughout the carve.

Throughout the whole day i also worked to keep my arms up in front of myself. Ive done well at keeping my arms forwards, but poorly at keeping the in the correct upwards position and have caught my hands a few times on snow, causing me to wipe out.

I got a few videos, its interesting to see just how uncoordinated i look from behind, but the videos have helped to show me where my form needs to improve.

Firstly I think I need to keep my weight lower when I initiate the carve. Im hoping this will then help me bring my upper and lower body more inline, I'm bending a lot at the hips. Later I'll try and work on keeping my outer arm by my side. Ideally do a little less flapping, only bring my arms up to support myself as i being to achieve the truly layed out carve.

Was a very good way to spend a Wednesday, not a busy day at the mountain, no lines, slopes says i did 43,000'

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A few things.

1/ You have a regular stance (left foot forward). On your heelside (or left turns) you are allowing your trunk to rotate so that your right arm trails and your left arm leads, rather than both arms to the front. It's been said you want to be able to (figuratively) pee on the nose of your board on both heelside and toeside. 😉

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These are suggested setup tweaks.

2/ Try some outward cant on the front boot too.

3/ A longer stance will make it easier to get lower. Get those bindings as far apart as your skwal will allow.

What angles are you riding front and rear? Both rotated a little to the right and a little splay with the rear foot, a little more (say 5 degrees) across the board may help. Maybe 85 front and 80 rear.

 

 

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19 hours ago, SunSurfer said:

What angles are you riding front and rear? Both rotated a little to the right and a little splay with the rear foot, a little more (say 5 degrees) across the board may help. Maybe 85 front and 80 rear.

I am currently at 90 front and ~87 rear, i think the SkwalUSA bindings max out around 84 or 85, what bindings do u have on your Free Ride? I they max because of the mounting slots, im not sure if there intentionally limited or if its just because Rodney liked the high angles. 

I'll be out again on Wednesday, Ive already got my black Carver set up with outward canting on both front and rear so ill try that out. I'll take the time to side the bindings further appart as well, i think ive maxed the stance on the board, but the bails can still shift appart atop the binding. 

I went out on Sunday (yesterday) and reeally noticed my shins being soar, i don't think my ski boots are allowing my ankles to bend as much as Id like them to, im placing a lot of weight into the front of the boots and they're leaving me almost bruised. I am in the works to get some Deeluxe 325 hardboots so im hoping those help with the flexibility of my boots. Id be tempted to modify my ski boots, but they are getting pretty well worn out and im not sure if im skilled enough with a Dremel.

Thanks for the tips, I'll keep u updated with how Wednesdays new stance feels!

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 Yeah, the bindings in their original format have very little rotation capability. I recently drilled my Skwal USA bindings to allow me to run angles into the high 70s. Need to make some alloy discs to get the screws to apply pressure properly with the extended slots. I have access to a modestly equipped workshop (drill press, jigsaw, files etc) to make that a pretty easy task for me.

The Deeluxe boots should have significantly more fore and back flexibility and look for something like a BTS spring system to give you really controllable fore/aft flex.

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Was watching a YouTube discussion last night between a couple of expert softboot carvers James Cherry and Lars Horstman. James was suggesting holding the ends of a piece of elastic band / shock cord type stuff as a way of reinforcing the idea of keeping shoulders level in the turn and both arms forward. The elastic property gives some flexibility to hand position but still a constant reminder.

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Good to know about the bindings,  when im not in class or at the hill Im usually running cnc machines and have thought about adjusting the bindings. I may make a few step in heel catches for the SkwalUSA bindings as the gentleman im buying the boots from has stepin heals on them. 

Ill take a look at the snowboard carving talk while im cooking dinner. Im itching to get back out to the mountain tomorrow, ive got a break in classes before midterm week next week and hope to spend quite some time on the mountain before I begin studying

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