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Boarding….live from Whistler (Posted On: Wednesday, February 08, 2006)

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I jumped back on my snowboard this season all hot to trot, but found myself feeling like my skills weren’t what they used to be. So instead of wasting this winter catching edges and falling on my back (I now wear a helmet so at least I’m pretty sure when I hear a snap, I’ll be able to get up again), I took a refresher lesson on the mountain.

Turns out, there was a lot I had forgotten (really easy stuff too…the stuff that just seems so obvious) so thought I’d pass on what I’d learned, in case any of you are having trouble linking those turns, or worse, getting stuck on those “flat spots” where you either have to unbuckle a binding to push yourself to the next decline…or wait like some kind of alpine hitchhiker for a generous skier to lend you their pole.

The first thing I learned is that even though you think you are bending your knees, you are probably not really bending your knees. I had two other women in my class and they also thought they were bending their knees, but I could clearly see they were mistaken, and apparently so was I. Maybe it’s because we don’t want our rear-ends to look big that we’re afraid to really get into a good squat over the board…but this we must do. So really, really bend your knees (no, even more!) and I think you’ll notice a difference right away in controlling your board. You especially want to bend your knees after completing a turn. But more on that in a minute.

Second thing is that even though we have this natural tendency to lean back when we are feeling out of control, in order to gain control of your board you must ensure your weight is on your leading foot (“regular” or “goofy” as you may be, though I resent being called goofy for a myriad of reasons). Have your board shop or instructor set up your board to make this easier for you (I have no idea what they did to it, but it made a difference). Then really use those leg muscles to focus on keeping that weight on the leading leg…and vive le difference! No more “overturning” and feeling like you’re trying to head up the mountain instead of down.

For turning, I learned a nifty trick as well, a boarder should always have their arms out at their sides for balance, but you can also use the forward arm to point where you want to go, and then just let your body follow. So when you want to turn, let your arm lead your upper body into it and let your legs and board follow. The steeper the hill, the faster the transition will have to be, but it should still somewhat fluid. Then after turning really make an effort to bend those knees! It helps to maintain control after the turn and keep your speed in check.

All this is easier said than done of course, and I haven’t even touched on weight transfer to ensure you’re keeping an edge, but these tips helped me and hopefully they will help you too. For the added enjoyment you get from doing a sport properly, it definitely pays to go for a lesson or two and have a professional evaluate what you are doing personally. However I can almost guarantee they will tell you that you’re not really bending your knees.

Submitted by: boarding Queen, Yolande Lougheed


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