Eight years after my first snowboard class, I knew I had progress to make. Weekend warrior in Front Range (and mother), I average 12 to 16 days a year in the mountains. I could go down a black belt, but I usually get the blues. The improvement did not happen quickly enough for me. My loops could be tighter. My confidence can be greater. I wanted more control over my table. What bad habits did I take? What keeps me from progressing? Perhaps it was time to review.
I was paired with instructor Michael Douglas at Breckenridge Ski & Ride School for two lessons a day. We started a green race so that Michael could assess my failures. I say this because nothing will bring your flaws better than knowing that a professional is watching. I quickly overcame my self-awareness, remembering that Michael had seen everything and that his job was to help, not to judge. Michael helped to be super calm and patient. No matter how long it took me to learn a skill, Michael acted as if we had done it all the time in the world. I never felt rushed. And, unlike my first snowboard class eight years ago, I even had fun. In addition to improving my driving, Michael helped me with my jargon when I was in the elevators, in particular emphasizing the style (steeze) of the pilots below us. I was completely immersed in the culture of snowboarding and loved it.
So, what did I learn from my snowboarding lesson that I didn’t know yet? Much. The things that prevented me from progressing were things I didn’t even know how to do or didn’t do.
DAY ONE OF MY SNOWBOARD LESSON
- KNEE MANAGEMENT
One of my bad habits was using my upper body to lead. The upper body must remain perfectly immobile, while the knees and feet are in charge of the steering. Michael made me try an exercise that really took him home: driving with his arms behind his back. It is impossible to rotate with anything other than the knee. I always train to walk this way to help reduce the use of the knees just to drive, giving me a lot more control over the board.
Snowboard powder in the Breckenridge ski area. Take a snowboard class to improve your skills!
NOTHING IS THE FEEL OF SURFING IN THE SNOW.
- WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION
I was driving with my weight on the rear foot, which gave me very little power over my steering. 60% of your weight must be on the front foot, 40% on the back foot. With my weight properly distributed, I have much more control.
- PUT THE SHOULDER ON YOUR BACK
I always had problems with my heel turns. This little technique, combined with mastering the direction of the knee, made a big difference.
- FLEXIBLE OF YOUR TOURS:
When approaching a curve, your knees should be bent and your center of gravity low, then extend your legs and shift your weight upward as you cross and exit the curve. Return to bent knees while crossing. This “pumping” motion really helps to create momentum, increase speed and absorb shock.
- 5 HOURS:
Just timing my changes makes me drive like a pro. Instead of being in my head, where I can shake my own confidence, I focus on counting out loud and spinning at 3, 4 or 5 second intervals, using all of the above techniques. When I tell, or even sing for myself, everything comes naturally, and I don’t think about the slope of the hill or my speed and controlling myself as before.