Many people think snowboard lessons are only needed to learn the basics. While the fundamental movements do not change from the beginner to the advanced lesson, how to ride with a full range of movement in all the planes (twisting, vertical, longitudinal, and lateral) is not something that comes intuitively to many. When riding bumps, two skills we will look at developing are the skidded turn and active independent lower body movement.
Fully skidding means that the tip and tail are following different paths and this requires a very controlled upper body/lower body separation (twisting). The spinal rotation, which facilitates the separation, becomes similar to a log truck articulating to get around bends in a narrow forest road. As the board pivots, we have the advantage of a lower edge angle, which keeps us more centered over the board and complements balance.
Once we have a nice skidded turn, we should add moving our legs independently, like shock absorbers, as we anticipate varied terrain. The legs flex at different times reacting to the size of the bump without much of a vertical rise of the center of mass. Have a friend or instructor watch your upper body to make sure your head is not bobbing up and down with each bump.
When you encounter the diamond or shark fin bump across the fall line absorption, tactics alone will not let you slay these 3’-4’ dragons! A fundamental freestyle technique can be applied called the Ollie. The “Bump Ollie” or “Airless Ollie” is actively using the pop of the board to unweight, similarly to the pole vault that will use stored energy in the pole propelling you higher.
The Approach: As we flatten the board at the finish of the turn, we must have the back leg flexed and loaded with the center of mass aft. This body position is efficient when we are most extended at the control phase of the turn so we can use load and rebound of the board for the Ollie. The front shoulder should be aligned over the downhill edge.
The Takeoff: We release the flexed board’s energy (longitudinally) at the bottom of the bump by jumping or extending off of our back leg (vertically). At the apex of our extension, we retract our front leg first as we sequentially bring both knees up to our chest.
The Maneuver: The center of mass is moving forward and vertically over the bump. The upper body releases tension it created from the counter-position of the shoulder over the toe side as the body realigns perpendicular to the front foot. This released energy affects the path of the snowboard as well as the center of mass moves (laterally) over our downhill edge as we top out on the bump.
The Landing: We bring the landing gear down by slightly extending the front leg first engaging the top or backside of the bump with the downhill edge initiating the new turn.
Make sure to play with the intensity of pop to match the size of the bump. You do not want to overshoot the bump but match the trajectory with the size of the bump. This allows for more pressure management and a smooth extension throughout the body of the turn.
Being able to physically see where the bump is in order to anticipate it is the key to this whole lesson. We need greater mobility in the neck especially when looking to our blind side so that we don’t over rotate the front shoulder. This over-rotation can lead to front leg lock out – the biggest culprit in getting bucked around in the bumps.
Just as focusing on the rear window of the car in front of you in traffic can lead to rear ending that car; keep your eyes looking past the bump in front of you to what comes next. This will not only help you anticipate but keep a better alignment for balance.
Come and take a lesson from our ski school to get feedback and video analysis of your riding. Besides being a great way to learn the best powder stashes here at Telluride hiring a guide/instructor can really help ride it with style.
Jimmy Dorsey is the Snowboard Supervisor and Trainer for the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School