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The next step… (beginner help)


Corey
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I’m just getting into carving after riding on freestyle equipment since 1987. I did carve on the freestyle stuff, but was never able to get very low to the snow. After a few days on alpine equipment, I’m not so sure that it was an equipment problem as much as a rider problem...

So, to get a good start on my new (to me) alpine-specific equipment I read and re-read all of the articles in the Tech section and tried to apply them. I understand the basics of cross-under and cross-over. I found that the motions of cross-under are quick leg extensions to bend the board quite sharply under your feet. I was amazed at how tightly the board will turn if you time this extension properly and really load up the board! To graphically demonstrate, I was able to achieve this, but not so stylishly! Trying to load the board in the same way in cross-over was not so successful, the turns always ended up being very large radius ones that I could just as easily achieve on my freestyle board.

The big questions I have are:

1. How can I make larger direction changes at the tight radius you can achieve in cross-under turns? I can’t seem to mentally bridge the gap between these quick, short, and powerful turns to longer but still tight turns. How do you keep the board fully loaded for a longer duration? Is it a matter of loading up the board to start the turn and then letting centrifugal force keep it flexed?

2. I’m still experiencing heelside chatter on some turns, especially on longer ones. I’m working on keeping my knees flexing throughout the duration of the turn and facing the nose, but I think I’m still missing something. I noticed I could reduce this chatter by driving my rear knee laterally towards the heel edge of the board, but this stance/position feels awkward. Am I on the right path?

Because I couldn't hold the carve until I was facing up the hill, I had to slide the tail to scrub speed. This felt very unnatural on the heel edge with my feet at such angles (60 f, 55 r). I think this is just because I don't have much time on the board, but it may indicate something else.

Unfortunately, there are no other carvers in my area to watch and get tips from. I had lots of interesting conversations in the lift lines as no one had seen a snowboard that narrow before, and with ‘ski’ boots too! ;)

Can anyone offer some tips/suggestions?

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Originally posted by corey_dyck

I was able to achieve this, but not so stylishly!

Personally I have a bit of a problem with that movie. Notice that the guy rotates his upper body towards the toe edge on toeside carves and towards the nose on heelside. His trailing hand disappears behind him on toeside, and he swings his front hand back and forth across the board. In my opinion this is unnecessary wasted motion. If it helps him balance that's fine for him, he is already an expert carver with a unique style. But I think it is unhelpful to put that video on a newbie page like that because it confuses the issue. You don't need to swivel at the waist to carve well. In fact, I believe this maneuver actually decreases your balance. How is one supposed to learn to carve when one is simultaneously trying to swivel at the waist because somebody makes it look stylish? I don't know if that's what you were doing, but that's just my thoughts on the video. Maintaining your body alignment with the board throughout the carve is key for maintaining strong balance in medium to large radius carves.

I have to go home now, but I'll answer your other questions tomorrow.

In the mean time, I would say that you would benefit from the cross-through technique. Commit this picture to memory, it is a great example of it. (picture by boostertwo)

2bcard2.jpg

-Jack

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If you ignore everything that rider in the video is doing above the waist, is that not a cross-under?

I'd guess that my upper body is closer to the technique that you suggest, shoulders and arms parallel to the slope and fairly still. I'm probably moving my arms a bit to help with my shaky balance, but no deliberate motions.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how a cross-through turn differs from a cross-under.

Thanks Jack, I look forward to more of your analysis! :)

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I'm only a couple of seasons ahead of you in alpine experience, so this makes the problems you are talking about fresh in my mind.

How to carve tighter radius (but not cross-under) turns? You need more edge angle. Getting that board tilted more up on edge will make those turns happen in a lot less room. But if you do this simply by increasing the angle at which you lean over, you'll just find yourself falling over. You have to angulate more, ie, try to keep your upper body pointing straight up to the sky while getting your knees and hips closer to the snow.

Cross-through turns? I think of them as normal cross-over turns, but with a difference in the unweighting/transition phase. Instead of standing up tall to unweight, you stand up only enough to give yourself room to then suck you knees up to your chest and then put them back down in position for the new turn.

IOW, at the apex of the turn, a cross-through will look pretty much like a cross-over. But during the unweighting/transition phase, the cross-through is a genuine hybrid - with unweighting ala cross-over quickly blending into unweighting ala cross-under.

The trick that made cross-throughs "click" for me was to try and stay as low as I could throughout the unweighting phase.

Hope this helps. By answering your questions I'm also testing my own understanding of this stuff.

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Guest stoked

Hi,

unfortunately I can't help because I never had instruction but you could watch other carvers here in Austria ... sometimes it's still 50:50 between freecarvers and freestylers on the slope here.

"How do you keep the board fully loaded for a longer duration?"

To me when uprightly leaning in and linking turns, it feels like what you suggested, centrifugal force that requires some speed or a rather steep slope to start with because the longer you make the turn and/or lean in the more speed you lose.

When I tried to get on the edges I didn't dare to go fast, lacking centrifugal force, and that felt weird especially when trying to lean in on backside turns where I couldn't just push my knees forward to tilt the board.

What I tried was initiating the backside turn fully committed at low speed. So I leaned in uprightly and fell onto the slope, stopping very soon because of my low speed but I got some feeling for balance from that and then gradually started with more speed to actually make a turn.

So I guess I'm talking about uprightly leaning in, if you stay lower, with your knees more bent all the time, it surely allows more tilting the board by pushing you knees forward (on a frontside turn) or moving legs and hip somehow whereas if you lean in uprightly you don't move your legs much to tilt the board because it gets tilted just by leaning in.

Anyway there seems to be a variety of good and stylish riding styles out there.

All the best,

Bernhard

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As a rider can perform crossover and crossunder simultaneously, I've found it far less confusing to speak to extension or retraction of the legs at the turn transition (after all, a rider can not simultaneously extend and flex his legs!) It has been my experience that a rider will naturally make what Jack and others have identified as a "cross through" move when they make a medium to long radius retraction turn.

This rider uses the extension move on a long radius turn. You could also say he makes the X-O move.

Extension.jpg

This rider uses the retraction move on a long radius turn. He, and all other riders I've seen do this move, could also be said to make a 'cross through' move.

LRretraction.jpg

Because 'cross through' suggests a simultaneous movement of both the CM and the base of support, I don't think it's surprising that many riders new to this maneuver find it difficult to understand and apply. I think the movement of the CM will happen naturally, on its own, as a result of the legs no longer resisting the forces in the turn.

I've found that it's far easier for riders to grasp, and apply, this concept if I ask them to simply make a retraction move on a long radius turn.

Whatever you call it, it is very effective for lightning fast edge changes in longer turns.

My advice is to try using the retraction move on longer radius turns. I think Baka's cue is right on: try to stay low during the transition in long radius turns. 'Swallow' your legs during the transition to your new edge.

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Booster, those time-lapse photos you have are so good they deserve a web page all of their own.

Have you thought of putting a site together with a bunch of those photos, and some explanations of what the rider is doing? It would be a fantastic resource for both soft-booters and hard-booters.

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Extension and Retraction are fine names, and if they get your point across then great. However I think they're not specific enough because there is a third type of turn transition that is a blend of the two.

Baka has it right on. Cross-through transitions are usually used in medium and long radius carves where you're getting low to the snow. At the transition, you have nowhere to go but up. But rather than going <i>all the way up</i>, as in a cross-over or extension transition, you only go up far enough to be able to make the rest of the transition using a cross-under or retraction move.

The picture of the guy in the orange shows this, as you can see his head rising and falling, yet he is clearly retracting his legs at the middle of the transition.

Admittedly this is nitpicking a little bit, because when you are doing cross-through turns, it feels quite similar to cross-under, just that you're doing it on med/long radius carves. In fact, I'd say cross-through is mostly just cross-under <i>applied</i> to m/l radius carves.

But I would say that a <i>pure</i> cross-under transition is what happens in quick fall-line carves, where your head stays fairly level, you face downhill*, and your board is carving back and forth underneath you. Certainly this is a different technique than cross-through, so the two should have their own names, no?

Because 'cross through' requires a simultaneous movement of both the CM and the base of support, I think it's not surprising that many riders new to this maneuver find it difficult to understand and apply.

No argument there, it is an advanced maneuver. One needs to master cross over and cross under first before they can blend the two. When I finally understood cross through, it opened a door to another level for me. I suggested it for this dude because he said he had been carving on his soft gear already. He should probably be patient with himself learning cross-through.

-Jack

(*as opposed to larger radius cross-through where you maintain your body alignment with the board as it turns - either facing the nose or facing your binding angles depending on preference.)

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Originally posted by corey_dyck

2. I’m still experiencing heelside chatter on some turns, especially on longer ones. I’m working on keeping my knees flexing throughout the duration of the turn and facing the nose, but I think I’m still missing something. I noticed I could reduce this chatter by driving my rear knee laterally towards the heel edge of the board, but this stance/position feels awkward. Am I on the right path?

Many people find that trick helpful, but if it's not for you, that's fine. My heelside carves made a huge leap forward the day that I forgot that my boots were in walk mode. I practically fell onto the nose of my board. This aggressive forward weight shift at the beginning of the heelside carve really hammered the edge in and made a strong chatter-free carve. Before that happened, I had thought that I was getting far enough forward at the carve initiation. Apparantly not! So really drive that rear hand forward and down over the nose at the beginning of the heelside carve, and tuck your butt in over the board, not hanging off to the side.

Also, what board are you riding? If it's a short radius board, it is possible to attempt a carve that is too fast and long for it. That can result in chatter.

Because I couldn't hold the carve until I was facing up the hill, I had to slide the tail to scrub speed. This felt very unnatural on the heel edge with my feet at such angles (60 f, 55 r). I think this is just because I don't have much time on the board, but it may indicate something else.

You're right, you're just not used to sliding a carving setup yet. <i>Not</i> carving a carving setup is not much fun at first, it takes getting used to.

-Jack

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Wow guys, thanks! :cool:

That's a ton of info that's going to take a while to digest. I'll print this out and take it to the hill with me. Then as I learn one thing, I can start thinking of the next and keep it all fresh in my mind. Now I understand what cross-through is. Getting my body to actually do it will be another thing, but I now realize what it is and what it does for you.

I'm on a real budget setup; a Burton Alp 169, Burton Freecarve boots, and a set of old TD1's. The boots are terrible and will be replaced fairly soon, hopefully with a set of SB 413's from the Bomber store.

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Seems to me up and down movement of the upperbody is really secondary. The real difference is how the edge change happens. In a cross over turn, the edge change happens because the rider brings the CM over the board, say from toeside to heelside. This shift causes the board to change edges. In a cross under turn, the rider's cm stays in the same location and the edge change happen due to the rider's legs bringing the board under the CM. Basically, its whether the CM moves across the board or the board moves across the CM. To me, cross through turns don't exist. The up and down movement seen in the rider in the orange is a by product of having to make room to swing the board underneith. I don't think it's a leg extension that's causing the CM to go up. It's more from lowering the edge angle. Since the rider is in hardboots, the CM has to go up when edge angle is lowered signifigantly(you have to make room for your calves). In softboots, you can collapse your legs more do to softer boots and that your knees and ankles are more lined up with the length of your board(you can see this in the rider in blue, his legs go from almost fully extended on toeside to totally collapsed at the transition). I don't know, just another perspective.

James

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I'd like to offer a slight correction to Jack's post. I did not create the image of the rider in orange.

It was created by Ron LeMaster, an amazing guy who teaches physics at CU and works as a technical advisor to the US Ski Team and CASI. He also writes books and articles explaining the physics of snowsports in a simple, easy to understand style. His book The Skier's Edge occupies a permanent place on my reference shelf and I consult it often (even though it's about the mechanics of skiing, the physics is not altogether dissimilar on a snowboard). I highly recommend it.

Ron has a great website that feature eyepopping photomontages of some of the world's best skiers in action. He also has, on his website, a powerpoint presentation entitlted "riding from the snow up", which he has presented to our staff at Vail/Beaver Creek, at Aspen, and for AASI-RM (and probably elsewhere). If you're interested, check it out at http://www.ronlemaster.com.

I did create the other images, but this one--and the training that has allowed me to produce similar images--is Ron's work.

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So what do you call it when you are in a high speed, high g long radius carve, and you are low to the ground and compressed at the <i>apex</i> of the carve, then at the transition you first have to extend and rise in order to make room for a quick flick of the board underneath your CM? It surely is not cross over, but it's not pure cross under either. It's a combination of the two, hence the third designation cross-through.

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Originally posted by boostertwo

I'm getting confused by this stuff. I'm going riding.

What would you do?

Thanks for the great tech discussions. You guys rock!

Cheers,

B-2

Same to you!

Unfortunately I can't go riding yet, AND I'm suffering from PMS.

(Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)

-Jack

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Originally posted by Jack Michaud

So really drive that rear hand forward and down over the nose at the beginning of the heelside carve, and tuck your butt in over the board, not hanging off to the side.

This is the thing that really made a difference for me on heelsides. As it was originally suggested to me (thanks Chris!), I try to put the palm of that trailing (toeside) hand on the snow on heelside. BTW, you should try making several turns where your intent is purely to ride it all the way around back uphill until you stall...so you're not thinking about the transition to the next turn, just railing that one turn and holding it. Make sure it's clear above you on the run beforehand, of course.

A little cue I use for myself whenever I chatter on heelside is to immediately think, "Where am I looking?" Invariably it's not ahead of the board, and often looking downhill. And then I'll notice my back hand is in fact trailing, not pushed forward.

On scrubbing speed by sliding, I used to really hammer my back knee with this, particularly on bumpy terrain. I'd lose the edge and try to maintain control by actually pushing harder with my back leg, putting it at full extension. Ow. If you're doing this as well, it's likely a leftover from years of tightening your turns by pushing the back of the board around...it was pretty automatic with me. If you can't reel it in by angulating deeper at the waist (hand push), squaring back to the nose, looking hard uphill, etc, just forget that turn, flick over to toeside, and move on. If you still need to speed check, try it on toeside after the transition.

Also, I started out on the same deck you have now...that Alp will turn on a dime when you really rail it hard with correct body position, so just keep at it...

joe...

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Originally posted by joecarve

On scrubbing speed by sliding, I used to really hammer my back knee with this, particularly on bumpy terrain. I'd lose the edge and try to maintain control by actually pushing harder with my back leg, putting it at full extension. Ow. If you're doing this as well, it's likely a leftover from years of tightening your turns by pushing the back of the board around...it was pretty automatic with me.

Wow, good call. I found myself trying to extend my rear leg at certain times. I kept subconsciously doing it without even meaning to. That was not a very stable position or a comfortable one at high boot angles! I've got to re-think my riding style that has a lot of bad habits from being self-taught.

I definitely felt the carving ability of the Alp on a few turns when I accidentally got things right. All of a sudden I was looking at the trees coming up fast on the other side of the run! :eek:

Thanks for the advice from everyone! I'm loving this learning process and can't wait to start digging some trenches and feeling the G's.

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Originally posted by corey_dyck

Wow, good call. I found myself trying to extend my rear leg at certain times. I kept subconsciously doing it without even meaning to. That was not a very stable position or a comfortable one at high boot angles! I've got to re-think my riding style that has a lot of bad habits from being self-taught.

You can still scrub speed heelside by extending your back leg - I just started carving last year, so this is fresh in my mind, too :) When I would scrub speed, I would face downhill, just like if I was on flat angles in soft boots. It's actually really easy and painless to scrub if you just face the nose of the board (i.e. left if you're regular), and skid down the mountain sideways instead of chest-first.

Re: heelside chatter - as a relative beginner, maybe I can help here, too - maybe you're not rotating your upper body into the turn as much as you think you are. There was certainly a disconnect between what I thought I was doing and what I really was doing for a long time. I first really noticed this when I accidentally skidded out a heelside once, and put my front hand into the snow to brace myself. It buried in the snow and I almost dislocated my shoulder as the snow yanked it backwards at high velocity, but in the process, it twisted my upper body strongly towards the nose - enough to actually push the board back in and recover from the skid.

And - maybe your weight isn't as forward as you think it is - instead of trying to touch my rear hand to the outside of my front boot, ot whatever that trick is, I try to touch my rear shoulder to my front knee, and I try to concentrate all of my weight and energy into a spot just outside the heelside edge, maybe 6 inches in front of my front binding.

Hope that helps,

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Originally posted by corey_dyck

I definitely felt the carving ability of the Alp on a few turns when I accidentally got things right. All of a sudden I was looking at the trees coming up fast on the other side of the run!

Heh, that really brings back memories of my first season on an alpine deck. Some turns would take forever to get started, some I couldn't seem to end, and some would just whip me around in a tight circle leaving a perfect trench behind. It all seemed quite random, but it was the most fun I'd ever had snowboarding.

For the first time I felt an enormous power to make hard carved turns, but I had only the barest level of control over that power. It definitely felt that the the board was riding me rather than the other way around. Like riding a train on tracks laid by <a href="http://www.worldofescher.com/gallery/">Escher</a>.

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Guest jeffnstefanie

I have been using the " ride, fall, get up, repeat " method with limited sucsess.

I am reading all of this and hope to remember to try some of it at Sugarloaf next week. ( If there is any snow ! )

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I use the ride, ride, ride and then ride some more method. Occasional bodyslides or auto fullstops occur but aren't part of the plan. Always push your envelope.

Only started snowboarding 4 yrs ago but am still hopelessly addicted. Seldom miss a day. Over 400 days on the hill across 4 years and I do have a job and support my family.(midnight shift does have some perks)

Ride as often as you can. Get out midweek if possible to experience crowd free slopes.

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