220 Inclination and Angulation

220 Inclination and angulation-  Definition, concept, utilization

Ok, let’s get a few things straight.

Inclination is the creation of an angle between the rider and the hill.  If I stand upright, with all relevant joints more or less locked, and lean toward the hill, I am inclining.  I will likely fall over as well.

Angulation, on the other hand, is a generation of angles internal to the body, and also to the hill.  So if I face the tip of my board, tighten up the ‘outside’ half of my torso, and lean into the hill, I am now angulating.  If I make a heelside turn and look as though I am sitting on a toilet, well, guess what?  I am angulating!  Of course, this means of angulation is not all that effective in the long run, but it does follow the definition.

So, with the definitions out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff.

Inclination in general allows a rider to stack up against the apparent outward pull felt in a turn.  Another way to look at it, is that if the board has effectively created a banked turn, the inclined rider has lined up their bones to stack at right angles to the surface on which they stand.  This allows the rider to handle the loads of the turn more effectively.  The difficulty with inclination, depending on the stage of rider development, is that a lot of mass has to move a great distance in order to make one turn after another.  This makes for a slow turn connection, which limits the terrain the rider can use.   Of course, inclination has plenty of uses, and should not necessarily be discarded.

There are several advantages to angulation. If the torso remains more ‘upright’ through the turn, with the legs at a steeper angle to the hill, the larger upper body mass does not have to move as far from one turn to the other.  Additionally, it is possible to achieve a higher angle between the board and the snow at a lower speed(meaning the transition area, where balancing can be a little dicey), thus is possible to begin and end each turn earlier.  This will facilitate speed control on steeper/narrower terrain.  There is some talk out there that angulation allows a rider to position more of their mass directly over the edge of the board, thus improving grip.  I am not so sure about that, but, hey, it sounds good.  Finally, Angulation is a means by which the board can be tilted to edge even if the lower extremities are blocked somewhat by improper boot/binding set-up.

In theory, if a rider with angles set forward maintains some degree of parallelism between his shoulders and the snow surface, he will be effectively angulating.  Another way to look at it is that the inside shoulder should be higher than the outside shoulder.  In practice, this means that one side of the torso will elongate, and the other will shorten.  This stretch and shrink can be active or passive, usually depending on the rider’s skill level.  For the rider of lesser skill, the tightening of one side of the torso in anticipation of the new turn will often bring the board to its new turning edge sooner, which means the turn can begin well before the fall-line.  (This is the classic ‘pencil pinching drill, where the rider tries to grip a pencil between the bottom rib and the hip bone).  The edge change mode here is cross-over, and there need not be any real energy storage within the board for this type of turn to be effective.  Pretty nifty.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the degree of angulation has to rise and fall from turn to turn.  If the angulated position is held right to the ‘end’ of the turn, it will be difficult to exit the turn as the board has not yet begun to roll off edge.  Thus, the reminder to keep the shoulders parallel to the snow at all times.