117 Exploring Pressure Management

117 Exploring pressure management

Pressure management involves more than just which foot you stand on and when you stand on it.  As a snowboard is used more effectively, it slips less and slices more.  As edging movements develop, the board will have a tendency to bend more as it turns.  The ability to create more or less bend in the board allows for turns of a tighter radius, as well as the storage of energy which can be used to facilitate the following turn.

A snowboard is a spring.  Much like a trampoline, a snowboard can deflect and rebound.  Just as on a trampoline, if you push or give at the wrong time, you will effect rebound.

In order to bend a snowboard, you have several choices:  you can ‘stomp’ on it, causing it to suddenly bend more, or you can selectively tip it more, allowing the sidecut to deflect further.  Since flexion and extension of the legs has been so popular in ski teaching, the concept is often transferred to teaching snowboarding, with an assumption that one should rise and sink from turn to turn.  Given the sidecuts on most modern snowboards, not only is this not necessary, such movements can actually interfere with the turning ability of the board.  More often than not, the board will be sufficiently loaded that sinking onto it will only cause it to break its grip on the snow.  Similarly, getting lighter at the turn connection by rising only serves to delay the desired bending of the board until later in the following turn.

In order to bend the board more, it is desireable to manipulate the timing of the edge change, and feeling for the board pushing back on you as it tries to lift you back up the hill (which of course requires that you complete each turn).  Additionally, it is necessary to stand on the effective middle of the board, so that the front of the board does not bend proportionally more than the tail.  If this happens, a skid will result, and the pressure of the bending board will be dissipated.

Consider that each edge change should take place well before the fall line, and that in order to do this, the end of each turn should be conceptualized as being at or near the fall line, not when the board goes flat.  In this instance, pressure is developed and maintained by more effective capture, rather than by physical supplementation.

The somewhat sideways stance on a snowboard gives rise to a few truths, among them the pressure defaults on toe and heel side edges.  In other words, on a heelside turn, the tendency is for more pressure to develop under the front foot, whereas on a toeside turn, more pressure tends to develop under the rear foot.  This is the reason that most people will tend to skid a heelside turn, and have difficulty skidding a toeside turn.  An awareness of this principle will allow a rider to even out pressure distribution from foot to foot, making each turn more consistent.