How to be safer in the Snow Park on your skis or snowboard

The key focus for Maverix is the safety of all participants on our courses. The freestyle aspects of snowsports can be hazardous. Therefore we adhere to a set of key guidelines in coaching and park safety to enable our clients to have the most fun without having to overly worry about their own well being. One of the best systems around has been developed in the States.

The Smart Style Program

There are four main areas of focus that is associated with Smart Style.

Make a plan

Every time you use freestyle terrain, make a plan for each feature you want to use. Your speed, approach and take off will directly affect your manoeuvre and landing.

Look before you leap

Scope around the jumps and rails first, not over them. Know your landings are clear and clear yourself out of the landing area if you fall. Features change constantly due to weather, usage, grooming and time of day. Adjustments should be made accordingly for this.

Easy style it

Riders should look for small progression parks or features to begin with and work their way up. First runs should be used as a warm up to get familiar with the speed, flow and layout of the terrain park. Ride within your limits and trust your own judgment on what is safe and achievable. If a trick or feature does not feel right leave it. There is always another day to ride.

Respect gets respect

From the lift line through the park. Respect the terrain and the people in it. Hit the features in a way they were designed for. Sit back and watch the flow of the park, so you can fit easily into the scene. Call your drops and be ready to move through the park at a steady pace, so more experienced riders do not get held up. One person on a feature at a time. Respect all signs and stay off closed terrain and features.

Extra Freestyle Safety Points

Know your Limits and ability level and select the appropriate freestyle terrain for you.

Your physical condition, speed, balance, body movements, alignment, trajectory and manoeuvre difficulty will DIRECTLY AFFECT YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME.

Know the intended use of the freestyle terrain you have chosen. For example, some features are intended to be used in a series with no stopping and some individually with stopping areas; jump takeoffs are for jumping and rail takeoffs are for entering onto rails.

Your actions can take you out of balance and cause serious injury or death, no matter how the feature is designed or where you land. Land on your feet!

Transitions are changes in the shape and pitch of the snow or feature, or changes from one type of sliding surface to another. Transitions can be gentle or abrupt, and demand that users be alert and respond to them with accurate movements.

Know where to Land. The SWEET SPOT is between the “knuckle” and centre of the landing zone. Even if you land on or near the sweet spot, you can still be seriously injured or die if your landing posture is not correct.

BE AWARE that features change constantly due to snow conditions, weather, usage, grooming and time of day. Adjust your technique as conditions change.

Read and obey all posted signs, instructions and warnings before using freestyle and piste terrain, or jump over them :)

Some resorts designate features as small, medium and large or blue, green, red and black. Be aware these ratings are determined by size, not degree of difficulty, and are relative only to that resort.

Have fun and be safe out there. Sources: nsaa.org, AASI.org, Terrain Park Safety.org