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Practice Drills


Jack M
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(from JohnSch in the qualifications thread) I do have a sort-of related question, though, for anyone with a racing background. Just as skiers have lots of goofy drills to learn things like riding the inside ski...I'm sure there must be some drills strong riders can do, safely in a resort environment, for developing technique. Open to any suggestions!

I have an instructing background, not a racing background, but here are some drills that have helped me very much. This is going to be my next technique article, so I'll briefly summarize them here:

Heelside carves: rear hand grabbing front boot cuff. Or rear elbow on front knee. Get low by bending more at your knees, less at your waist.

Toeside carves: front hand grabbing rear boot cuff, arm going behind your butt (not between your legs!). Again, knees more than waist.

Bamboo: "borrow" a bamboo pole and ride with it. (hold it with your fingers only - don't wrap your thumb around it, you can sprain your thumb if you do and fall) At all times while carving, keep the bamboo pole perpendicular to your board, and level to the snow. This is trickier than it sounds; it's good to have someone watch and tell you if you were actually doing it.

Note that the above drills work on the "face the nose" technique that I prefer. Many racers use this (see picture of JJA in the World Cup Watch) and many racers face their binding angles like Klug. Many will use both techniques in the same run. Either way is fine, but for me facing the nose made a breakthrough in my carving.

Triple turns: between each carve, instead of making just one edge change, make three quick cross-under ones in a row as you traverse the trail. (i.e.: make a regular gs carve on left edge, then in the transition quickly go right edge, left edge, right edge) If you have room, go for five.

Try riding with your boots in walk mode. Try with your boots in walk mode and unbuckled.

Try to eurocarve fakie. Do this by making a toeside carve, and in the transition spin 180 and make another toeside carve going backwards. (use caution! only on well groomed uncrowded slopes!) These two drills work on your balance skills.

Heads up: just before the finish of one carve, before changing edges, turn your head and pick a spot on the other side of the trail to aim for(a tree, pole, snowgun, guy writing his name in the snow, etc). Make the edge change and the next carve all while looking at this spot.

I'll try to think of some more. Racers, jump in here.

-Jack

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I ride on a hill that GS & SL skiers train on. Since there are so few other carvers on the slopes I tend to take the skiing training methods and incorporate them into snowboard training. Its funny because all the methods Jack talked about in some way I think were derived from ski racing. I became a true carver when asked a 17 year old FIS racer what he thinks about when he is about to come into a GS gate. He pointed to 6 inches in front of his binding and said," I concentrate all my energy right there." Since then I've learned to model my riding and training after GS skiers and it has worked for me.

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Try riding with your boots in walk mode. Try with your boots in walk mode and unbuckled.

Is that for learning to stay above your board and/or relying on the bottom of your feet, not the boot?

I did a lot of weird things last season to help myself learn how to rely on my feet and not the boot, kinda sounds similar in principal.

Same as riding switch, I think that helped most of all to better my balance and learn how to pressure my heals firmly and into a healside carve.

Note that the above drills work on the "face the nose" technique that I prefer.

I inadvertently used that technique from reading articles, looking at pictures, and watching videos and would agree that it is the best concept for a new carver to focus on. It worked well for me but as I progressed I found some disadvantages as I started to ride more aggressively.

When I started to ride the steepest groomed runs on the resort I found, along with the combination of board and binding issues, I tended to have counter rotation problems and I was applying pressure to the inside edge of my heal on the back foot rather than applying pressue to a heal that was flat to the bottom of the boot. Thus, the result of my error was problems holding the carve at the apex of the turn. During this stage I went back and read "Carving the Steeps" and with a little direction from a friend I made a transition to something more of a racing style which in turn solved my problem. I guess my question is how or when do recognize that this adjustment in riding technique is needed? Or, since I am so new to this, would this be a problem for everyone that learned from "facing the nose" technique?

Oh wait, went back and read the Jasey Jay vs. Klug stance thing. Anyway, what do you think?

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I was doing some thinking and maybe I had to make that stance change because I went from a 171 free carve board with a soft flex to a 185 Burton WCFP with a much stiffer flex pattern. Again, what do you think?

Also, this maybe a tid bit of help for some, but when you hold the uphill arm high to keep the shoulders level to the slope, I found that (because of my bad shoulder) I focused on feeling the downhill side of my torso pinching the lowest rid into the pelvic bone as I drove hard into the turn. I can't hold one arm up well so this feeling let me know for a while that I was keeping my shoulders as level to the slope as I knew they could be. This may or may not be right.

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Nice thread, Jack.

Several precision drills I've had some success with include:

1. Up the Ladder: Isolate each one of the possible movements to tilt the board on edge, starting with quick movements of the ankles. After a bunch of repetitions, move up to the knees, trying again to isolate the movement and not using any other movement to tilt the board. From there move to the hips, then incline the whole body to tilt the board. This works especially well as a warm up exercise, as each of these movements will be used when carving. Performing each one of the movements will warm up the surrounding muscles, oxygenate blood, and lube joints along the entire kinematic chain, rather than only in one area of the body.

2. Hangers: Traverse a wide slope alternately engaging the uphill and downhill edge. Rip a big arc on the side and repeat on the other edge. This requires a rider to apply knee and ankle angulation to engage and release the downhill edge, and to make larger hip angulation/inclination moves when cutting a hard turn at the trail's edge.

3. Singletrack: Ride exactly in the track of a rider preceding you, or your own track (on subsequent runs) if you are a loner. Requires subtle movements of knees and ankles to fine tune edge angle, quick fore/aft adjustments to further adjust the shape of a carved arc, and develops perceptual skills as a rider is forced to look ahead to see--and follow--the track.

4. Runaway Train: Ride a track one foot to the right (or left) of the track preceding you. If you are lucky enough to ride with a posse, have the entire group try it with each subsequent rider riding one foot to the left (or right) of the preceding track. This increases the challenge as later riders have to make big turns toeside and tight arcs heelside and vice-versa. Develops similar skills as Singletrack, but with the additional 'big turn, small turn' challenge.

5. Shadow Slalom: On a sunny day, ride a slalom course around chair shadows under the chairlift. Develops further application of edging and fore/aft movement options, and perceptual skills (looking ahead and choosing line).

6. Pierce the Pile: Pick out shadows, small piles of snow, or other objects and 'pierce' them with your carving edge.

7. Air Change: Carve off small bumps and rollers and change edges in midair. Land softly, carving on your new edge, maintaining the integrity of the carved arc throughout. Further develops pressure management, edging, and fore/aft movements, plus balance and perceptual skills.

8. Suck Ups: Perform carved retraction turns off knolls, on individual bumps, or along a spine.

9. Combos: Mix up carved extension and retraction turns so you can perform either on command. Develops the ability to extend or retract the legs to better manage forces through the finish of a carved turn.

10. Turbulence: Make long radius carved turns through small bumps and 'harbor chop'. Progress to larger bumps when your legs feel youthful. Develops pressure management skills and 'de-couples' flexing and extending movements from edging movements.

11. Trees: Will further develop accuracy and because that's where the powder is!

Cheers,

LH

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Off the top of my head riding with you hands on your hips can sometimes be used to calm down unneeded upper body rotation.

If you have a problem with rotating your upper body to start you turn make some turns with you hand on you hips and focus on statring you turn by using you knees.

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Here is a different take on on of Jakes tips.

On your toe side edge try touching your front hand to your front heel. On yours heel side try touching you rear hand to you rear toe. One mistake with doing this is that you DON'T want to bend at the waist to touch. You want to keep you spine vertical and bend you knees to create the angles nessary to touch. One side note is that I'm a huge advocate of riding inline with your binding angles, and this drill is focused with this style in mind.

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Originally posted by Lowell Hart

1. Hangers: Traverse a wide slope alternately engaging the uphill and downhill edge. Rip a big arc on the side and repeat on the other edge. This requires a rider to apply knee and ankle angulation to engage and release the downhill edge, and to make larger hip angulation/inclination moves when cutting a hard turn at the trail's edge.

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Wow, Lowell Hart is here! Lowell, I took my first snowboarding lesson from your crew in 88 at Stowe. You had the wisdom to exchange the Elite 135 the rental shop had given me with an Elite 150.

Anyway, "hangers" is what I was trying to describe in my post as "triple turns". Thanks for the tips.

-Jack

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Originally posted by eddie

Is that for learning to stay above your board and/or relying on the bottom of your feet, not the boot?

Yes, it is a balance drill. Not that you should be able to carve your best without the support from your boots, but it is a good thing to try.

I inadvertently used that (face-the-nose) technique from reading articles, looking at pictures, and watching videos and would agree that it is the best concept for a new carver to focus on. It worked well for me but as I progressed I found some disadvantages as I started to ride more aggressively.

When I started to ride the steepest groomed runs on the resort I found, along with the combination of board and binding issues, I tended to have counter rotation problems and I was applying pressure to the inside edge of my heal on the back foot rather than applying pressue to a heal that was flat to the bottom of the boot. Thus, the result of my error was problems holding the carve at the apex of the turn. During this stage I went back and read "Carving the Steeps" and with a little direction from a friend I made a transition to something more of a racing style which in turn solved my problem. I guess my question is how or when do recognize that this adjustment in riding technique is needed? Or, since I am so new to this, would this be a problem for everyone that learned from "facing the nose" technique?

Not necessarily. Different techniques work for different people. It just so happens that facing the nose has always worked well for me, so I've stuck with it. However as you say, I think it is a good technique to teach newbies who are struggling with maintaining body alignment throughout a carve. It is a common newbie flaw to simply face downhill on heelside, and to bend at the waist towards the snow on toeside. Telling a newbie to face their binding angles usually isn't enough to break these habits. I think it is important to learn to face the nose, and then if your carving plateaus again, you can then start to experiment with other alignments.

Also, it sounds like you would benefit from some custom footbeds if you have to consciously fight foot-roll inside your boot. That's not to say that your feet are messed up, even the most average foot will benefit hugely from orthotics. I consider them mandatory equipment.

-Jack

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Guest bookworm

Great stuff Jack and Lowell.

My wife broke a buckle on her boot yesterday. It brought to mind Jack's tip about riding with your boots in walk mode/unbuckled. I didn't mention Jack's tip at the time. Later, I asked her how it had worked out. She said the broken buckle seemed to be a problem at first, but that she was able to adjust to it and ride just fine.

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Guest Kirby carver
Originally posted by Lowell Hart

5. Shadow Slalom: On a sunny day, ride a slalom course around chair shadows under the chairlift. Develops further application of edging and fore/aft movement options, and perceptual skills (looking ahead and choosing line).

Great drill!

Works amazing when there isn't enough snow to set gates in early season. If the weather in Ontario keeps going the way it is, shadows on snow are going to be the only thing my team will be turning around.

Can anybody spare some snow?

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Guest Todd Stewart

One of my favorite drills is called high-marking, put a gate or a glove halfway down a hill and see who can get the furthest up the hill by turning around the gate. Basically it's half of a circle carve. I find it teaches the riders what it feels like to be on edge for an entire turn. Also it shows the rider how early they have to turn to get around the gate if they want to keep there speed. But you have to be sure to tell them to look up-hill before they start riding cutting accross the hill.

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One of my favorites is leapers. Rather than turning the board on the snow, you spring cleanly off of one edge and land cleanly on the other one to change directions. Simple drill to explain, yet great for working on fore/aft balance, edging and pressure control. If that gets boring, try it riding switch :>)

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Good thread! We do the following drills when there is not a lot of traffic on the slopes:

Cat and Mouse:

Ride with a partner. One is the mouse, the other the cat. The mouse tries to shake the cat while carving turns. The cat rides a safe distance behind and tries to match the mouse turn for turn. After a while, switch roles. Good to develop the ability to instantly make turns of different shapes and sizes, and for looking ahead.

Human Giant Slalom:

Ride with a group: the bigger, the better. The object is for the entire group to ride through a GS course made up from the other group members. Start by having each member of the group position himself (stopped) on the trail so that the entire group makes up a GS course. Alternating 'gates' hold one arm to the right/left to indicate the direction on which to pass. When everyone is ready, the rider at the top of the course goes

first, with the following riders starting as soon as the 'gate' above them rides by. Thus, several riders are on course at any given moment. Safe passing is allowed and encouraged, but no hitting gates or others on the course. As soon as a rider 'finishes' the course, they set the next gate, which they do by stopping and holding out the appropriate arm to indicate turn direction (dictated, of course, by the rhythm of the turns immediately above him.) Leapfrog in this way all the way down the hill. Develops the ability to make carved turns of different shapes and sizes, and choosing line.

20p3tz9.jpg

Hope the riding is great where you are!

B-2

Edited by boostertwo
Reloaded image.
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Guest Kirby carver

Hey Todd!

Hope your season's going well. Will we see you at the AOS races this season? First race is at Kirby. Schedule for the 'rec' series is as follows:

Jan 17 Sat - Oshawa Kirby

Jan 31 Sat - Mansfield

Feb 8 Sun- Beaver Valley

Feb 14 Sat-Cedar Highlands

Feb 21 Sat Age Group Provincial Championships MSLM

Cheers,

Fraser

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Another drill we've used recently is retraction boosters. At the very end of a carved turn, use a quick movement of the ankle/knee to tilt the board even higher, rather than reducing the edge angle to start the new turn. This sudden increase in tilt tightens the turn radius and creates an even faster retraction (cross-under) turn.

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Here are a few more drills to develop carving skills.

Skid/Carves: Alternate between skidding and carving on a single traverse and on single turns. Extend the rear leg to break the tail out of a carved arc, then retract it to realign the board so it points exactly in its direction of travel. Develops sensitivity to both skidding and carving, and the ability to regain the arc if the board starts to skid.

Circulators: Carve a complete circle on the toe/heel edge. While not especialy useful for racers, still a fun drill that develops the ability to read terrain and use appropriate inclination, hip, knee, and ankle angulation to tilt the board, and fore/aft movements to adjust the shape of a carved arc.

Lock-Ons: Unweight and make a change to the board's steering angle (pivoting it through the initiation of the turn) while it's light. Come down and immediately 'lock-on' to a carve on the new edge, carving the middle to the finish of the turn. Start with small steering angle adjustments and make larger steering movements as you develop proficiency. Develops the ability to make a big steering angle adjustment when the course demands it or to regain a better line while on course.

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