Big Air and New Tricks

| December 4, 2009 | 0 Comments

Indoor terrain parks like Colorado’s Woodward at Copper can enhance your skiing and snowboarding skills—and set you flying high before the snow flies.

By Krisan Christensen

We learned how to fall before we even learned how to leap. The first half hour of my exhausting, exhilarating day at Woodward at Copper began with tumbles, somersaults, flops, and dives into a 22-square-foot foam pit. And, girl, am I glad we learned to fall first, because that’s pretty much what I spent the rest of the day doing.

Woodward’s mission is to help campers progress through their training goals— mine was to complete a 180-degree spin off a snowboard jump. I began on the trampoline, where I must have knocked out hundreds of 180-degree spins. Then after “mastering” the movement on the trampoline, I completed another hundred spins with an awkward foam “snowboard” strapped to my feet. Wouldn’t you know, by the 25th spin or so, I was even doing 360s.

Once I’d built enough confidence, it was time to keep the ego in check with my first ride down the Snowflex, a snow-simulating surface that’s like a cross between Astroturf and the rough side of Velcro. All I wanted to do was avoid falling on the stuff, but as you might imagine I spent plenty of time plucking myself off the uncomfortable surface. After many attempts, I managed to successfully make it to the bottom more times than not, without falling.

Woodward has a 35-foot jump (at 42 degrees, it’s one of the mountain’s steepest pitches) into a foam pit, a 10- Land with a flat board to avoid catching an edge. foot cliff into the same pit, and a Snowflex jib run with a box and rail leading into a quarter-pipe. These features allow participants to practice their tricks in a safe and controlled environment.

After watching kids from the International Snowboard Training Center get big air off the jumps, I was ready to put my practice to the test. It only took three tries to “land” my 180 from the cliff drop into the foam. While I couldn’t quit muster the courage to try the big-kid ramps, I was still thrilled with the progress I’d made throughout the day. Hey, I even rode my first box in the rail park. I’ll be perfecting my new tricks on the real white stuff all season.

Getting Started:

  • Landing a 180 takes practice, patience, and a few key skills. Follow these tips from Kim Stacey, head outdoor coach for Woodward at Copper, to get off the ground— and back to it—safely.
  • Approach the jump with relaxed knees and your chest up.
  • Focus on a far-off spot to help keep you oriented while you spin.
  • Wear a helmet. Hard-packed snow is just that—hard. And busting your skull is a dangerous way to end the day.
  • Lift the board up instead of bending down to grab it. This will keep your chest up while you’re in the air.
  • Twist with your hips. It’s all about balancing the torque of your arms and your waist.
  • Land with a flat board to avoid catching an edge.
  • If you can: Practice jumping on a trampoline with your board on (tape the edges to protect the tramp). Enough 180s and 360s and muscle memory will kick in when you hit the slopes.

Category: Snow Sports

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