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Freestyle Skiing

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I really want to get into freestyle skiing, where should I start?
I have been skiing my whole life (17years) but I've always been too chicken to really get into the terrain park. Suggestions?

post #2 of 8
Originally Posted by bmaxwell View Post

I really want to get into freestyle skiing, where should I start?
I have been skiing my whole life (17years) but I've always been too chicken to really get into the terrain park. Suggestions?

If you are still young enough, you could check out in this month's issue of SKI Magazine some of the freestyle "camps"/programs offered for teens at places out west.


I think being chicken in the terrain park is a healthy thing, as you can get seriously injured doing some of the stuff.  But some of the tamer stuff (small jumps, small rails) you could just kind of try a few times and see how it goes.  Also, you might enter some amateur freestyle competitions at your local ski area... I think competing in one of those will tell you alot about what you want to improve upon, where you are, what you are good/not good at, etc.


Good luck.


And, in general, EpicSki users (who we refer to as "Bears") are not "park rats."

post #3 of 8

As a Bear who is a former park rat, learning park is all about the company you keep. You'll have a tough time learning it on your own, there are a lot of subtleties which are best learned from someone who knows what they're talking about. Formal lessons aren't always the best forum for learning those skills, as a lot instructors don't possess the skill set to teach a park lesson. Also at some areas, the ski school rules won't allow for much effective teaching in the park. Some areas will only allow their instructors to teach the safety rules of the park. If you can read the giant orange signs at the top of the park, then the lesson is a waste of time. However, if you can find some experienced park skiers who are willing to teach you, then you will be able to learn a lot.


As far as confidence, always start small. Find the beginner park, and get comfortable catching air off of the cheese wedge jumps, and sliding straight on butter boxes. The acronym used for skiing park is ATML, which means Approach, Takeoff, Maneuver, Landing. Get comfortable with the A,T, and L before trying anything in the M category.


Really want to progress in the park? Become an instructor. It sounds like you have solid experience on skis, more than enough to instruct. When you become an instructor, you'll find that every mountain has a core of instructors who ski park, and they're usually happy to assist another instructor in learning the ropes of the park.

post #4 of 8

I know you're in Michigan, and I don't know if there is a woodward near you, but Copper Mountain has a woodward facility that is pretty sweet for learning tricks and progressing. I would definitely agree with whoever said start with small features and work your way up, and if you make it out west, try and check out woodward at copper, it has jumps and trampolines and foam pits that make it alot less scary to try new things.

post #5 of 8

Check to see if your local hill has a freestyle program (not Ski School).  There are alot of small programs in the Mid West.  Look into what your home hill has to offer.  Check out newschoolers.com as well. There is a big urban/ slopestyle scene in the Midwest.

post #6 of 8
Actually, many ski schools these days have very good freestyle programs, with specialist instructors who can walk the walk. The ATML Model that Freeski919 refers to above was developed by instructors, as a way to simplify and provide some structure to what is inherently unstructured, and I think it's brilliant. "Freestyle," almost by definition, is not something you can teach--it is an expression of your own individuality. But the skills that enable that freedom of expression can be taught, and many instructors have become very good at it. Several divisions of PSIA now offer a Freestyle Specialist program for interested instructors, with several levels of accreditation. Good professional instructors can not only help you learn the skills of freestyle, they will help you do it with a margin of safety well beyond what you'll likely find skiing with non-professionals and friends--no matter how good and well-meaning they may be. Do not hesitate to inquire at any ski school desk whether they have any freestyle trainers or specialists on staff, and what programs they might offer.

Also mentioned above is the Woodward program at Copper Mountain. It is an outstanding facility, with qualified coaches and programs for all ages and abilities. With indoor ramps and foam pits, as well as the renowned superpipe and park at Copper Mountain, they offer programs summer and winter.

Have fun!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 8

Most freestylers do a fair amount of dry land training (off the snow that is) on tramps, diving boards, and water ramps if they are lucky.  I joined a gymnastics club (in addition to attending a 7 day freestyle camp) the summer before my last year of USSA competition.  It gave a much better feel and air position awareness, which gave me much greater confidence to go a little bigger than I did before that experience.


I did teach a couple freestyle specific private lessons and even had an advanced high school ski club freestyle group.  That was the most fun I ever had teaching.  I used the same drills my coaches had shown me and we found some air bumps to hit.  This was in the days before terrain parks so having a resort employee encouraging kids to hit the jump (while ensuring the landing zone was clear) was pretty much unheard of except for kids on the freestyle team back then.


Anyway, all of the advice above is pretty good.  I just wanted to add the tramp training suggestion.

post #8 of 8

Best thing to do is what we did when we were kids and that is build a kicker in your yard or the closest hill and hike it until you are numb. 


I don't think anyone should be rotating off axis or anything without training on a tramp first IMO.  And the suggestion of some gymnastics is absolutely spot on.  Wish I was smart enough to do that as a kid.


Anyway, if you just spend some time to get some air awareness and can throw a 180 and 360 plus style out a few straight airs that is more than enough to take your act out onto the real mountain and have a total package.



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