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Help: Slow learner (leaner?)


Ray(ottawa)
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Does anyone have advice, tips or drills that will help a carver get his hips lower to the snow? As a former ski instructor, I understand about angulation, and on skiis I can leave twin tracks with the best of them, but on a snowboard where we are balanced on a single edge, the turn seems to be over before I get my hips low enough to the inside of the turn. My tracks look fairly good and precise without a lot of skidding, but I am really just riding the sidecut around, and I have to get the board to a higher edge angle and put more pressure on it to bend it into a tighter radius for better speed control. I’m thinking I would make real progress on a long slope with hero snow, but I’m stuck on short run areas with eastern groomed ice for snow. For what it’s worth, I’m 6’ 2”, 170 lbs., ride a 168cm Burton ultaprime, and my huge Susuka’s require me to ride 65/60 deg’s. This seems to be a psychology, confidence issue. Maybe I should write to Dr. Phil.

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So - you told us what you need to do to improve, more angulation. If you could get someone to video your riding you could probably see what to change - all I can say is the same as skiing - pressure on the front of the boot cuffs, angulate early and load the nose. The UP is a pretty tight sidecut, so you may also be overriding the natural carving speed of the board. Try carving at a lower speed with more angulation. Good luck!

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Go to a thread called Practice Drills and find the one about riding with a bamboo pole and keeping it level with the terrain that you are riding on, I think this will help you out some.

As Chris stated eailer you UP has a short turning radius which makes it harder to get really low because the turn is so short.

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I think you are on the right track. It sounds to me like you might be using full-body inclination to tilt the board, rather than moving the hips (and CM) to start the turn, or that you are making either a slow or late movement with your hips to create edge angle on your board.

Obviously, inclining the entire body like an upside down pendulum (rather than moving from the hips) at the start of the turn is the slowest way to get to your new edge. Many riders 'dive' into their turns when learning to get big edge angles (leading with head and shoulders) from an angulated position on the previous turn, and experience big performance breakthroughs when they substitute a different, lower movement, from the hips, to start the new turn.

To get the feel for moving from the hips, try this indoor exercise: find a doorframe or hallway to support you while you practice moving across an imaginary board starting with the hips (rather than 'diving' with the upper body). Get in a low stance, and, using the doorframe or wall for support, practice moving the hips laterally across the board to increase and reduce edge angle. Stay low throughout the entire sequence.

As you get the feeling for this movement, increase the speed and the magnitude of the movement, so you are making a fast movement of the CM across the board at the start of the new turn. This is exactly the same movement that you'll use when blasting arcs on steep terrain: flex your legs to allow your hips to quickly travel across the board to start the new turn. Practice on the hill will give you a feeling for how far you can move them at any given speed.

Of course, without actually seeing you ride, this is all conjecture. As Chris mentioned, video review of your performance would be ultra-helpful. One other thing to check would be your equipment: does it restrict you from deeply flexing your legs or moving as you did when practicing the movement indoors? Adjusting the forward flex and forward lean on the boot cuff or alignment on the board (through lifting/canting) would be other factors which may influence your ability to make this move.

Hope it's snowing where you are!

B-2

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Many riders 'dive' into their turns when learning to get big edge angles (leading with head and shoulders) from an angulated position on the previous turn, and experience big performance breakthroughs when they substitute a different, lower movement, from the hips, to start the new turn.

This may not be appropriate to your situation, but it does seem a good place to expand a bit on 'diving' with the upper body vs. moving the hips across the board to start the new turn. This is a fairly common movement pattern with riders in learning to carve--especially on toeside turns. Here are two examples of a rider 'diving' with the upper body into a turn:

KBH.jpg

With this movement, the rider does not 'unfold' the hip angulation he uses to create heelside tilt. Instead, he tumbles across the board, leading with head and shoulders. The hip is the very last part of his body to cross the board as he moves into the new turn. This is generally less preferable to moving the hips (and CM) across the board to start the turn.

kbh2.jpg

One kinesthetic cue to help riders develop the movement of the hips is to focus on the sensation of the ribs 'pinching' together as a rider creates hip angulation. At the finish of the turn, ask them to focus on stretching the pinched ribs apart, which allows the CM 'room' to move across the board to transition into the new turn.

Again, this may not in any way address your difficulty, but it is a fairly common movement for riders learning to blast arcs. Many riders experience big performance breakthroughs when they develop the lower movement of the hips to start the new turn.

Hope it helps.

Cheers,

B-2

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Originally posted by Ray(ottawa)

For what it’s worth, I’m 6’ 2”, 170 lbs., ride a 168cm Burton ultaprime, and my huge Susuka’s require me to ride 65/60 deg’s. This seems to be a psychology, confidence issue. Maybe I should write to Dr. Phil.

I'm guessing, since you think it is, that it's a confidence issue - that you're not willing to just dive down and get low before applying pressure to the board and carving your turn. I have a suggestion:

One of the biggest mental leaps in leaning over very far is that you need confidence that the board is going to carve a circle tight enough to support the fact that you've leaned over 75 degrees or whatever. If 1) the board carves a bigger radius turn than you wish or 2) your edge skips out, you're just going to land flat on the ground and smack your noggin. One way to assuage this fear is to enter the turn from the very beginning with your knees bent a LOT. That way if the board carves a bigger radius turn or your edge skips out, your legs will extend a little bit and you can continue on your way - in essence, it gives you a little leeway in case one of those two things should fail.

*disclaimer - I've only been carving for a year, so I'm probably full of crap, but it worked for me.

Also, you can (must?) ride slower than you think you can, probably - I ride a 171 FreeCarve and I can do butt-touching/knee-touching carves (on hero snow only, of course) only at surprisingly slow speeds. Like, fast jogging speed. Any faster and the G forces generated by that laid-out 3m radius carve slay me.

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Originally posted by kjl

I'm guessing, since you think it is, that it's a confidence issue - that you're not willing to just dive down and get low before applying pressure to the board and carving your turn.

I'm not sure if I'm reading that right, but it sounds like a recipe for bending over at the waist on toeside and sitting on the toilet on heelside. Getting low is a result of speed and edge hold, not simply assuming some body position. If you can't get low, you're not going fast enough for your board's radius. If you can't go fast enough, you're not in a balanced position, i.e., shoulders level to the hill, looking where you want to go (not downhill), butt tucked in over the board, hips dropped into the turn.

-Jack

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Originally posted by Jack Michaud

I'm not sure if I'm reading that right, but it sounds like a recipe for bending over at the waist on toeside and sitting on the toilet on heelside. Getting low is a result of speed and edge hold, not simply assuming some body position. If you can't get low, you're not going fast enough for your board's radius. If you can't go fast enough, you're not in a balanced position, i.e., shoulders level to the hill, looking where you want to go (not downhill), butt tucked in over the board, hips dropped into the turn.

-Jack

That's not exactly what I meant. Also, I think sometimes not being able to get low isn't just a speed issue, but a confidence issue. I've certainly been on hills where I was going fast enough to get low, but freaked myself out due to whatever (snow conditions, steepness, narrowness of trail, etc.) so that I just couldn't convince myself to inclinate at all, and so I'd make a big, fat, large-radius turn. Still a carved turn, but a wide turn, with low G's and resulting in very high speeds at the end.

My "going into the turn with knees bent" thing was only meant as a way to provide leeway in case of failure - i.e. making the mode of failure less catastrophic. If you lose an edge with straight(er) legs you fall down immediately - if you lose an edge with bent legs, you can reengage the edge as your legs extend and find the snow again, and then you can attempt to recover the carve, or skid your turn out, or otherwise remain on your feet... This certainly helped and is still helping me to tackle hills I'm not fully comfortable with.

Also, is bending forward at the waist or sitting on the toilet a bad thing? It seems to me that if you've bent your knees 90 degrees and your butt is somewhere over the tail of your board, the only way to get your center of gravity centered again or even forward over your front foot is to either bend at the waist or add a lot of forward lean to your boots (or adjust binding cant). Is that wrong?

Thanks,

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Originally posted by kjl

Also, is bending forward at the waist or sitting on the toilet a bad thing? It seems to me that if you've bent your knees 90 degrees and your butt is somewhere over the tail of your board, the only way to get your center of gravity centered again or even forward over your front foot is to either bend at the waist or add a lot of forward lean to your boots (or adjust binding cant). Is that wrong?

Not exactly. Of course there is going to be a lot of bending at the waist and knees going on (ideally more knees than waist), but there are good and bad ways of doing it. Hanging your butt off to the side of the board on heelside, and bending over towards the snow on toeside are the bad kinds. Basically, anything that results in "reverse angulation" - when you're trying to lean in farther than your edge angle.

These pictures of cmc are good examples of good heelside technique, imo.

cmc1.jpg

cmc2.jpg

and here's one of me going a bit slower:

jm_carve1.jpg

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Originally posted by Jack Michaud

Hanging your butt off to the side of the board on heelside, and bending over towards the snow on toeside are the bad kinds. Basically, anything that results in "reverse angulation" - when you're trying to lean in farther than your edge angle.

Ah, we are in total agreement, then.

I like confirmation that what I'm trying to do on the slopes isn't totally busted.

I think it's awesome that photos of CMC have him with his arms completely stretched straight out from his body, but he is so angulated that "perpendicular to his body" also means "parallel to his legs". I'm pretty sure my body doesn't bend that way... yet.

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for many seasons i rode like you, only to be told that anguation should come from the knees and shins rather than the hips. try getting more shin angle and press your knees into the turn, the hips will follow if you are looking in the right direction.

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Hi Outsider,

I'm not sure if you mean that for many seasons you rode like Ray, or with a focus on hip angulation as per Boostertwo's suggestion to Ray.

IMO, a good rider should be able to angulate with the hips <I>or</I> the knees as the situation demands (or, for that matter, with the ankles or by leaning the whole body). All are useful and effective ways to tilt the board on the edge. The important thing to keep in mind is that we make <I>choices</I> from these available options as we ride.

In certain situations hip angulation is a better choice than knee angulation (i.e., when the forces of redirection are large and you need additional torque to keep the board on edge). Hip angulation uses larger levers to achieve tilt on the board and is a better choice when ripping across the fall line turns at speed. The riders in the images Jack posted use this move.

The trade off is that the longer lever (tib/fib plus femur) provides additional torque at the expense of quickness. Whenever you need to make a quicker movement to adjust edge angle, knee angulation is a better choice. It makes use of a smaller lever (tib/fib) to tilt the board on edge. Smaller levers, (i.e., a light switch) move quicker, but produce less torque.

These images illustrate the different options a rider can use to tilt the board on edge. While the images were designed to illustrate the movement options for low stance angles, the same bones/levers are used to tilt the board with higher stance angles on carving boards (although obviously the direction and magnitude of the movements will be somewhat different.)

Dem-Bones-toeside.jpg

IMHO, a versatile rider is able to make each one of these movements, and to blend them as the situation warrants.

Dem-Bones-Heelside.jpg

Here is a link to an archived article which details each of the movement options to create board performance, and the situations in which each is useful (it'll take a minute to download).

FWIW.

Cheers,

LH

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If those skeletons were riders they would be wearing softboots. That's why the agulation and inclination look weird. Looking at the toeside diagram, if the skeleton was in pure inclination it wouldn't have that bowed, banana shape to it's body, everything would be staight. To be more technical, it's spine and femur and shin would all be roughly parallel and perpendicular to the foot if it was in pure inclination.

James

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One kinesthetic cue to help riders develop the movement of the hips is to focus on the sensation of the ribs 'pinching ' together as a rider creates hip angulation

I am assuming what you mean by pinching ribs together is pinching the rib and hip on the same side of the body together. If not, then I have something else to learn....however.......(ok, so I have a lot to learn regardless)......

.....for what its worth, I have found this practice to be of extreme help to me. One thing a friend of mine told me to try in an effort to help me achieve the "most pinched" position I could was this: When you are transitioning into either a toeside or heelside, try touching your boot (maybe/maybe not literally, but reach toward your boot) with your hand on the opposite side of your turn as you pinch your lowest rib to the upper part of your hip also on the opposite side of the turn.

In other words, if you are standard and making a toeside turn, pinch your left lower rib and your left hip together as you reach with your left hand to your left/front boot (of course the opposite applies to a heelside turn). This will keep you from reaching for the snow with your right/turn side, will keep your shoulders more parallel to the slope, and will help you pressure your edge more effectively.

I have made some great progress using this little technique and it has helped my confidence astronomically on the harder/bumpier stuff.

cheers, Mike

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