Edge change sensations A static means of determining dynamic efficiency
The goal of this exercise is to determine the most effective means of transferring body weight from one edge to the other. This exercise may be accomplished indoors, on a flat surface, either with boots on or off. Stand in a manner that best approximates your chosen binding placement. Begin by finding a relatively neutral position on the arches of both feet, arms casually draped at the sides. Adopt a slightly flexed stance which leaves the hips and shoulders square to the board.
Isolating each joint/major component of the body, experiment with shifting pressure slowly from toes, to arches, to heels, to become more in tune with these sensations. Begin with the ankle, move up to the knee, then the hip, the shoulders, and lastly, the head. The process should then be reversed, starting at the top of the body, for comparison. Determine which movements are most effective in transferring weight in addition to maintaining balance.
If this exercise is successful, you may conclude that a movement of the hip will pressure the toes/ heels more effectively than any other part of the body. Once this parameter has been set, you can experiment with subtle movements of the knees, ankles, and shoulders to complement the movement of the hips while maintaining balance.
This exercise may not work effectively while wearing hard boots on a hard floor, simply because subtle movements will not easily be achieved.
Getting on edge, (defining the sidecut of the board and finding your place in the grand scheme of things)
.A. Traverse on edge to stop, both sides.
B. Linked traverse on edge with roll-out (looks like airplane climbing to stall, sliding back, then gaining speed)
Your stance should be forward facing, with hips and shoulders square to the board, knees together, one hand for each edge22.
These drills require patience and balance in order to scribe a clean line all the way across the hill to a stop. In both exercises, the idea is to familiarize yourself with the sidecut of the board as well as a balanced, edged stance.
In the second exercise, you need to progress from a board carving forward, to a board sliding backwards, to a flat, fall-line seeking board, to a carve on the opposite edge. This second drill also teaches patience in the fall line. With both drills, you should look back at your track to see if it has become narrower and cleaner. It is important that the rear foot should follow the exact imaginary path as the front foot.
Until you are familiar with your equipment and the way it works, you will be unwilling to fully commit to a turn. This makes early edge engagement difficult, with bad posture resulting through skidding and overpressuring of the nose.
C. Simple ‘carved’ turns (served straight up)
Moving beyond the traverse into linked carved turns. Rather than continue uphill to a stop on the traverse, Allow your body to move downhill, crossing over the board to change edges. The edge change should be initiated before the board swings uphill to the extent that it slows too much. So long as the board is moving longitudinally, an edge change may be accomplished without catching an edge. You should anticipate the new turn so that you do not find yourself running out of room at the edge of the trail.
The turn initiation should be slow and unhurried, to avoid any pivoting at the top of the turn which will later interfere with effective edging/carving. You may find it easier to initiate the turn if you stand up slightly, and then move your knees into the turn slightly ahead of the rest of the body. It should be stressed that you should avoid tipping your shoulders into the turn as a means of turn initiation. This will only lead to bad habits and frustration later on. Once again, look back at your tracks for toeside/heelside symmetry and clarity.
“You are not yet ready to be Jedi.” -Yoda, Empire Strikes Back
D. Drawn out turn entry
Simply expand the length of the flat spot between edge changes. If done correctly, you will be starting the move to the inside of the new turn slower. This can teach balance and patience on steep terrain, assuming there is enough width to the trail. This also works well for turning in soft or broken snow, when a rapid turn entry would cause a buildup of force which the surface cannot sustain, therefore causing an abrupt and sloppy exit from the turn, with the body on the snow. Begin on gentle terrain, moving gradually to steeper terrain as ability improves.
(22) Your stance (and preceding paragraphs)… Well, it is not really feasible in the long run to ‘move your hips’ to tilt the board. To do so requires kinking the body a bit, which involves additional muscle tension, etc. It is possible to make movements of the feet, which will ‘allow’ the hips to move, but that is a different story. It all starts with the feet, even in stiff plastic boots.
Knees together… (Chagrin).
As far as facing forward, with hips and shoulders, square to the board, this reference is only for use in specific drills. This posture establishes a point of reference that is easy to feel and observe. If the hips are not lined up with the front foot, it is harder to ‘move’ laterally over the board, and thus harder to achieve equivalent edge angles on both toe and heel side turns. In turning toward the front of the board and holding this posture, it is easier to develop a sense of lateral joint articulation, though at the expense of muscle tension.