Ahh…those steep icy runs or the hellishly choppy pistes. Like most riders I don’t go chasing them, but when I encounter them I use some simple techniques to give me loads more control, and if you can apply them you’ll be less likely to avoid those runs and be up for a fresh challenge on your holiday.
Activate the board
A lot of boarders tuck their back knee inwards due to having a slightly open posture (facing downhill). This can unevenly distribute weight and pressure through the length of the board, meaning as they gather speed it can be difficult to feel fully in control, especially as the piste gets more choppy. You might have experienced the effects of this. You get bounced around and end up spending too long on your heel edge and commonly standing up tall to try and brake.
Think about pulling your bindings apart and pushing your knees outwards. This will make you bend your knees, getting you closer to the board.
One way to alleviate this is to try and feel the outside of your feet in your boots. Think about pulling your bindings apart and pushing your knees outwards. This will make you bend your knees, getting you closer to the board. As you pull against the boots and bindings you’ll be tensing your legs placing you in a much stronger more reactive stance. What you’re doing is placing more deliberate pressure along the length of the board. This will have more of the board assisting you in control and turning. I primarily use this technique once I’ve completed a turn and want that extra stability at speed.
This technique also works really well for correcting posture and balance issues when attempting straight airs off kickers. Once you’ve practised this posture you’ll be able to resist the forces being thrown at you by the piste a lot better and be able to cut through choppy piste faster and with more control.
Cut into the snow
Once you’re practiced the power stance above and are able to activate more of the board you can start to apply that to steeper more icy terrain with the addition of pressure into the snow. Think of riding snow as trying to cut a loaf of bread. If you just place the knife on the loaf and put no pressure on it, you’re not going to get a slice. It’s the same with riding. If you just do a turn and unweight and let the board slide, you’re most likely going to feel uneasy and less in control as the board skids around.
If you just do a turn and unweight and let the board slide, you’re most likely going to feel uneasy and less in control. If you put pressure through the board and drive it into the snow you’re going to gain grip and control.
If you put pressure through the board and drive it into the snow you’re going to gain grip and control. You’ll want to have a bit more tilt (angle) on the board to help attain that grip, but that’s not too hard to achieve.
I would start playing with this technique on a mellow piste so you can get a feel for the board angle and level of push required, then try it on something steeper. For most guys who rise up to change edge, you’ll want to use this as you finish each turn, helping to gain back control after unweighting. For those who ride more dynamically and stay low throughout the turn you can bring this in at the edge change, as it will help with braking as well as control through the arc of the turn.