Melon Grab

HIDDEN TALENTS

Heel edge traverse on a snowboard

The infamous heel edge traverse. All those times when you had to follow your skier mates or just make it to the slope or lift and you have to do that nightmare slow wobbly traverse. It’s a bloody nightmare.

Quite often we have to resort to the unglamorous hop up the slope or worst case unstrap and hike. Not so tough on a piste, but when you’re off piste it could be a total mission. I’ve seen guys burn out with just a 10 metre hike up a powder face when they dropped below a traverse line.

Your ability to hold a decent heel edge traverse could be the difference between a great day and a painful sweaty disaster.

Generally what we do is pull up on our toes and straighten our legs to get more heel edge angle and therefore grip. Although that can help in the majority of cases, if you really need to get across a slope this is going to result in you bouncing as you hit small bumps in the snow and loose leg absorption, resulting is you dropping further down the piste.

How to improve your traverse

What you’re going to do is use a high performance heel to toe edge turning technique applied on steep slopes to help the board grip and actively pull itself up the slope with a lot less effort and way more control. This is achieved by using the natural torsional twist and sidecut of the board (Torsional twist is when you try and twist the board).

Your first aim is to avoid straightening your legs to increase the angle of the board. You’re looking to maintain a normal riding stance with your legs slightly flexed. You then pull up on your back foot set of toes to help engage the rear quarter of the board (as shown below). If you struggle to get the board to react to this movement, consider adding a little more forward lean to your bindings.

Regular Edge Engagement

Goofy Edge Engagement

You then relax/flatten your front foot and just let the board do its thing. It sounds totally counter intuitive, but with just the back edge by your rear foot gripping the snow the board holds a much tighter more controlled traverse than you ever thought possible.

You can test this technique on normal pistes to get a feel for the move. You’ll notice the rear of the board locks into the snow and the board will accelerate.

Don’t be too worried about your front leg straightening a little as you flatten it. Just try not to let your weight travel too far to the tail as you’ll loose balance.

Happy shredding.

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