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TGR Steeps Technique Article

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

http://www.tetongravity.com/story/snowboard/chamonix-backcountry-guide-mcnabb-gives-technical-snowboarding-tips

 

He advocates a very surfy approach, interesting read if a bit contradictory while also being a bit heretical.


Edited by CTKook - 4/17/15 at 7:56am
post #2 of 10

Nice find! I don't see any discussion of weighting more to the back foot (might of missed that), but I would recommend that as an adjustment going from groomed to off piste/softer snow. Overall, the points he makes are pretty much in line with AASI dogma. There are a few small points I have very minor quibbles with, but they are not worth mentioning.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

.... Overall, the points he makes are pretty much in line with AASI dogma....

Some AASI "dogmaticians" might advocate more of a crossunder, non-rotational technique for the steeps.   What he is describing is similar to a rotational Eurocarving approach, applied on the steeps.  What's contradictory is that he does believe rotation limits ability to ride well, and then advocates rotation, plus a little sharp wave-your-hands-in-the-air counterrotation as well.

 

This is one case where video may help, as it's possible that either 1) the guy himself, and/or 2) the author of the article, plus I should throw in and/or 3) me the reader, is simply trying to describe "crossunder" steeps riding out of sequence. 

 

Then there's always 4) he has legs of steel, and doesn't find compressing into every turn and then extending out to be as tiring as more ordinary men by the end of a long run. 

 

I can't see if TGR has a comments section for the article, if so it would be interesting to see if anyone chips in with attribution.  My honest guess is that what he gets clients do is far less rotational than my take on the article suggests.

post #4 of 10

That counter rotation thing caught my eye too. But that just looked like he was talking about board twist. I suspect his rotary is bad comment comes from all the back foot riders who can't/won't traverse a groomed trail on firm snow. I agree with his sink to start a turn approach for riding soft snow, but I teach the opposite to beginners on firm snow. Where I disagree with him is that I believe either approach can work in either conditions.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
The sole reason that we need to bend and flex on a board is for effective balance. The more we tilt the board onto the edge in the turn, the more we need to sink and flex to keep our center of gravity over the board. This is also affected by the snow quality and speed. In powder, with all the board working, we can stand taller. We need to balance less than on we do when on firm snow where we're riding the edges.

I teach that the reason we need to bend and flex is to allow steering with the feet. If you hold out your arm straight and face your palm away from you so that it is at a 90 degree angle to your arm (e.g. the stop/halt gesture), then try to wave your hand, you should feel tension in the middle of your arm. But if you bend and flex your arm while waving, there is no tension. This is the same reason why karate punches have you turn your first as you punch. Karate bends and flexes the arms for punching power. We bend and flex our legs for turning power. I don't want my students turning their boards so hard that they noticeably skid. I do want them to have the ability to guide the board through a turn through feet/leg rotation to the extent that they choose. Note that I also teach foot rotation from the middle of the foot so that the leg (i,e. femur) is also turning. In a pure carved turn, the amount of steering is zero. But if you want your turn shape to be more or less than the "natural" turn created by sidecut plus board bend, then you have to steer.

 

When you get to dynamic riding (where the shape of the path of the board is very different than the shape of the path of the center of mass and the flexing movements of the legs is opposite versus offset or simultaneous), the board spends very little time directly underneath your center of gravity. From the waist up you don't bend at all. As the front of the board passes underneath the body the front leg is at its shortest while the back leg is at its longest length. When the board is in the fall line it is at its furthest distance away from directly underneath the body and on its highest edge angle, the sum of gravity and turning forces are balanced against the board. This is almost perpendicular to the board surface. It is not literally bending and flexing to keep ones center of gravity over the board. But if you use a loose definition of "center of gravity" it is ok. 

 

It's possible to ride without much bend and flex in the legs and still be in balance. I can't do it very well, but I have seen it. Technically, you are still bending and flexing, but it is basically all in the ankle joint and none in the knee joint. Normally when we ride balance is going to be maintained by some combination of ankle and knee movement. So, in general, I don't have a problem with the point Neil is trying to make here. We see lesser skilled riders riding in balance all the time with relatively stiff legs. Getting more bend and flex is usually a good thing, So if there is another reason to do it besides balance, it's not a big deal.

 

 

Quote:
I sometimes hear riders saying that there is no perfect way to ride, that there's no right or wrong technique. While I agree with regards to personal flair and self-expression in riding style, I do disagree with that statement.

When I teaching clinics, I often beat the point that there is no right or wrong way to ride into other instructors. But I think Neil would smile if he heard my "speech".  If a guest is pressed for time, wants a back leg workout and enjoys the beginner trails, then it is perfectly fine for them to skidding down the hill kicking their back leg out to check speed. There are more efficient and less efficient ways to ride. There are safer and less safe ways. There are more fun and less fun ways.  Riding backcountry is more fun, but less safe. I was in a clinic once where the leader wanted me to kick my back foot out more on one specific turn so that I could spray a bigger powder plume and make a better picture for him to take. My opinion is that the job of an instructor is to give our guests more options to choose from versus trying to "fix" imperfect technique. In my book, intent trumps technique. For someone leading groups into the steep backcountry where there is a much smaller safety margin, it's easy to understand why Neil disagrees. In general, more efficient technique is also more fun and safer. But a skid can be fun sometimes too (especially if it is on top of a spine).

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

...

 

It's possible to ride without much bend and flex in the legs and still be in balance. I can't do it very well, but I have seen it. Technically, you are still bending and flexing, but it is basically all in the ankle joint and none in the knee joint. Normally when we ride balance is going to be maintained by some combination of ankle and knee movement. So, in general, I don't have a problem with the point Neil is trying to make here. We see lesser skilled riders riding in balance all the time with relatively stiff legs. Getting more bend and flex is usually a good thing, So if there is another reason to do it besides balance, it's not a big deal....

 

It's a sequence issue, and in the context of steeps a snow contact and effort issue.  The bending itself is a sign of good riding, but the when can determine whether you keep snow contact and how hard you have to work. 

 

I was also surprised he didn't mention tip rolls, but then I could have missed it. 

post #7 of 10

I got the tip roll tip for riding the steep moguls at Jackson Hole. But I don't suppose Neil is riding steep moguls in the back country.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

I got the tip roll tip for riding the steep moguls at Jackson Hole. But I don't suppose Neil is riding steep moguls in the back country.

 

It's good for steep chutes, and all sorts of other situations where you may want to make a lot of tight short turns.

post #9 of 10

I'm not a snowboarder but this is a good article.  Thanks for posting the link. 

I'm curious what @patmoore may say about some of the technical discussion. 

post #10 of 10
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