The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

Tweak your technique – BASI answer your FAQs – part 2

Experienced skier on the slopesAfter some great feedback from our last Q&A session with BASI, we’ve got the answers to some more of your FAQs. There’s plenty for snowboarders this time – with board questions answered by Ben Kinnear, Snowboard Director and Vice Chairman of BASI.

Not to leave out the skiers, there are some more words of wisdom from Gareth Roberts, BASI Chairman and Alex Leaf, BASI Alpine Director.

When I start a week’s ski holiday I’m really tired and ache a lot after the first evening. Do you have any good exercises to do before a holiday that prepare you more for the mountain?

Before arriving in resort, it is a great idea to consider some basic routines / exercise programmes. Naturally, the earlier you start before the holiday, the better. Balancing over one edge all day in a flexed position does take its toll on your lower limbs and muscles. A good level of cardiovascular fitness will help enormously – walk / skateboard / cycle / run to work in the weeks running up to your holiday. A lot of snowboarders and skiers agree that some simple yoga helps subtleness/flexibility – important in effective riding. There are many variations in different types of yoga, choose a simple programme if it’s new to you.

Snowboarding and skiing is about balance. A big aid to this will be developing good core strength and agility. Any good gym will help provide you with some good tools for developing these. With better core strength, you’ll be more able to attain good posture on your snowboard and skis. This in itself will stop a lot of ache, trust me.

How do I stop my snowboard from juddering when I turn?

Judder throughout the turn can be caused by a number of issues, so you’d have to get a lesson to be able to pinpoint it better. However, very often people experience judder because they are not dealing with pressure effectively. Your descent, coupled with the angle of the edge causes lots of pressure against you and your snowboard, and if you are not coping with these forces that are applied upwards through the board/body, you’ll find the board loses grip and begins to skip out. First of all, ride at a pace at which you feel you can manage forces effectively. At this speed you can better learn how to stand in a more centred, and ‘stacked’ posture. To ‘stack’, you want to feel as if your body is actually balanced directly over the edge, at all times. In a flexed, centred and stacked position – you should feel far more powerful – imagine lifting the heaviest weight you can, you want the best platform possible.

In short, with better posture comes better pressure management – less judder. Many other issues, such as how you actually turn the board, and how early you can ‘grip’ with the new edge will play huge parts in any judder experienced. Arguably the most vital movement when focussing on early grip is pedalling the snowboard effectively.

Snowboarder on the slopes strapping on bindingsWhat pointers do you have for snowboarders on a drag lift?

Snowboarding on drag lifts (Poma tows / button tows) is something snowboarders have had to adapt to – they weren’t invented for us! However, that said – it’s pretty easy once you have the hang of it. Start (if possible) on a tow on a shallow gradient – like ones found indoors in the UK. You’re being towed up hill, so anticipate being pulled forward up the hill by shifting some weight onto your back foot, especially as you first pull off. Keep you back foot firmly pressed up against the back binding, and as you first pull off keep you back hand over the tail – to help keep you and your board in line and not get pulled across the track. Once moving, you can choose to have both hands on the pole, using your front foot very gently, pressing toe/heel-side where necessary to keep the board travelling in a straight line. Remember, your back foot isn’t attached so if you’re off balance you can always use it to re-balance by pushing off the snow.

How do I ride moguls on a snowboard?

Moguls / rut-lines / bumps / half-pipes all require snowboarders to ride not only down-hill, but also balance against varying transitions /slope angles. This makes it much more technically challenging than riding simple downhill piste, as you must make very refined movements with great timing to ride these situations effectively. Most importantly, moguls require you to ride a very tight line and make quick yet smooth movements to retain balance and speed control. Far too much to put down here, but try riding tighter lines on piste, ‘closing’ your turns off (finishing all turns across the hill) working on lots of steering practice to take into the bumps.

How do I stop my edges catching on flat sections of piste?

Loads of beginners catch edges when first learning to ride over flat terrain. People try and take as much speed as they can to clear the flat, only finding that they feel unbalanced, catch edges and it hurts, a lot! Best way to avoid catching an edge is to always be riding / balancing over one, even on flat. Imagine your edges are like stabilisers on a bike when you learnt to cycle. You can rock very gently back and forth from edge to edge to maintain a more-or-less straight line across the hill, but feeling balanced over an edge the whole time. Those familiar with pedalling the board – try pedalling very gently from toe – heel and back, thinking in your head about pressuring ‘toe, toe, heel, heel….)

As your balance/posture improves, you’ll feel you can ride on a flat base better.

Experienced snowboarder jumpingWhat’s the best way to learn to ride switch?

Learning switch, for the very first time, for sure is best learnt back on the beginner piste, somewhere you feel very comfortable and confident. You’ll blend into all the other beginners too! In BASI we have a Central Theme – a series of exercises and drills that help develop the necessary steering skills to turn the snowboard, this works just as well in switch for those that can already turn. I’d recommend lots of falling leaf practice, using effective pedalling to feel you can control the rotation of your snowboard with your feet/ankles/knees.

From your first switch turns linked up, it’s simple dedication that’ll make it feel more like normal. Get on lifts in switch, one foot switch, ride all easier terrain switch and walk backwards everywhere you go!

When snowboarding how do you slow yourself down, as you pick up a lot of speed when you initially make your first turn?

This is a question we hear a lot. As you first learn to turn, to avoid catching edges you have to wait until the board reaches straight down the hill before rolling onto the new edge. This naturally builds up some momentum which can easily frighten beginners. First of all, choose terrain that isn’t too steep, and has a flat run out in case you can’t get onto the new edge very quickly. That should take away some of the fear factor.

On top of this, learn to use effective steering movements that allow you to steer the board more quickly and in complete control. You’ll get this through lessons, and then you should feel more ready to make those first turns. Going forward, your instructor will get you making ‘standard turns’ pretty quickly after the basic turn. This involves much less time going straight down the hill, so you’ll maintain good speed control…

What is the difference between up and down un-weighted turns?

Newly designed skis with more side cut and well developed flex patterns are not designed for ‘up un-weighted’ turns these days. We encourage the rising and sinking to be the ability to ensure you ski with pressure under the skis at all times. The old method of up un-weighting actually is not desirable anymore. The down un-weighting which you refer is the skill you need in skiing the bumps. Here, the movements are from below the torso and the stretching and flexing of the legs is required to stay in contact with the snow over the bumps and into the hollows.  This may look like down un-weighting.

How do you ski and brake on ice?

To ski effectively over ice, you have to realise that ice is naturally less grippy – so resist the temptation to simply tilt the ski on edge even more and risk sliding out. Continue to make your steering movements around the turn, and action will result in more control. Sometimes pressing down through the ball of your foot will help. Be far more subtle with your movements and edging in particular when on icy patches, spot the more grippy sections to wash more speed off. If its sheet ice, your braking distance is greater – just like when you driving, so bear this in mind.

How can I stop mGroup learning to skiy downhill leg falling behind my uphill leg when making turns?

Your downhill leg will naturally be behind your uphill. This is just how the body is built! If the downhill leg tracks away it is likely that you have too much weight on the uphill leg. Try standing against the downhill leg throughout the complete turn. The swords exercise will help balance over the outside ski.

Learn more about BASI’s international instructor programmes on their website. Love all things ski and snowboard? Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

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