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Riding rails and jumping for beginners

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

First off I'd like to say this forums great. Special mention to all those that put in and actually help out others who pose questions and seek advice. Now, to the advice.

The season has just started here downunder and I'm gonna be going up next week. I normally just ski the slopes but this year realli wanna hit the rails and jumps (or at least learn to). If anyone has any tips on how to learn skiing the terrain parks, laying of jumps and riding the perfect rail it would be greatly appreciated. I ask because last year I attempted jumps and failed. Ended up wif one ski here, the other there and a strained groin muscle.

Regards,
Dom
post #2 of 24
Hey they may have an instructor who teaches just this sort of thing??
Barring that// Learning to fly over snow?? I learned via school of hard knocks!! Trampoline work helps too!
On snow start small and work your way up. Do not start life hitting the big kickers in the terrain parks.

MTT
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
On snow start small and work your way up. Do not start life hitting the big kickers in the terrain parks.

MTT
Same thing with rails. If your area has any sort of boxes, start with those -- preferably the ones lower to the ground. Ski up to the box, and from a standstill, step up onto it. Feel around for the fore-aft balance point, as well as get an idea of what it "feels" like to slide on plastic/metal. After that, remember this: Speed is your friend...the faster you travel onto/off of the box or rail, the less time you spend on it; less time on equals less time to screw up! Remember that you cannot change direction while on the box, so you must approach it traveling in the general direction you desire to go throughout the attempt.

Although many people will advise you to aim for a 50/50 weight distribution between front and back legs, I generally end up with a 70/30 distribution (more weight on the front foot). In the beginning, don't worry about the dismount -- it should come naturally (that is, you'll naturally spin off the box either switch or facing forward).
post #4 of 24
boxes are going to be more forgiving to learn than rails, but can still leave you with some "battlescars" - I got a lovely hematoma from a box. However, there are some general progressions that work pretty well.

Boxes:
Slide lengthwise - Ski the box, feel how it slides (on the lexan/puckboard/plexi/acrylic/whatever they use). It is slower than the snow.
Climb onto box, standing still - allows you to "feel" how your balance must be centered, look in the direction of your tips, then look in the direction of the end of the box, which feels more comfortable (its pretty obvious, especially in the next step)
Slide the box (from a standstill) - release the edges, and try to stand more on your front than back foot. Stay with it, adjusting your balance, if you are having trouble, with your downhill hand, try to touch your boot and point with your elbow to the end of the box.

Repeat these until you're kinda comfortable (one thing I like to do, when the park is not overly busy is bypass the jumps, ski over the top, and when the tranny drops down, go into a modified side-slip reaching with the front hand, it should be different than a standard side-slip).

Once you are comfortable start hitting little jumps, practicing being able to get your skis to at least 90 degrees without much air. You may even want to try hitting a little jump and landing in a side-slip.

Now blend it all together. Approach the box, little air, turn feet, light landing on box, reach/focus on the end, slide, dismount. Remember when you are on the box, the mental reaction is to put weight on rear, this will almost undoubtedly cause a "hockey stop" type fall, feet sliding out and hip hitting box (pray you hit your hip on the box, the coping is less forgiving - trust me, I turned a lovely shade of purple).

Rails:
One of the best things I've seen/tried was boot slides on low, beginer rails. Run up to the rail, in ski boots, and hop up, trying to slide the rail on your boots, no skis. If you can get good at this, there isn't too much difference with skis. Boot Sliding reinforces that centered stance you need. However, remember that with skis, metal slide on metal pretty good. Expect to have more balance issues than with boot sliding, but at least you won't be attempting it being affraid.

Jumps:
START SMALL!!!! I cannot reinforce this enough.
Get comfortable "popping", use rollers and think about jumping on a diving board, compress at the lowest part, and as the terrain rises (like the diving board) start rising so that your "release" or "letting go" of the snow is the same time at when the roller lets go of your skis. Remember, stay forward, but not too much, just focus on feeling balanced in the air.
Once you get comfortable popping, start hitting little jumps. Get used to how the "lip" of the jump effects your balance, both on take off and landing. Try to get used to the idea of spotting your landing, focusing on the area where you think you're going to land (this will help later on when trying spins and other tricks). However, do not focus so intently on your landing that you are looking down while in the air, this can not only freak some people out, but it can also negatively impact your balance in the air, and can affect your ability to execute a trick (for example in a spin, looking down can stop your rotation).

Once you get comfortble with the little stuff then you can think bigger (i.e. grabs, spins, bigger hits, etc). You may also want to explore different types of jumps (especially if you have access to them), mentally, as you approach different types of jump your instincts are different. The major types of jumps are tabletops, step-ups, step-down (my personal least favorite), and hips. I wouldn't consider the pipe until you are at least a little comfortable in the air (unless you are just riding up and feeling the banking on the sides).

Hope it helps. BTW, searching out an instructor is also a good idea. I know CSIA and PSIA-RM have established freestyle/freeride certs/accredidations, and PSIA-E has been putting one together as well (there are 5 of us that are elligable to complete it this year - and we've been pushing not only for the accredidation but for others to start to learn), so if you search out an instructor, find out if any have been involved in the certification/accredidation programs through CSIA or PSIA, it can't hurt.
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiilyboy
Hey guys,
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiilyboy

First off I'd like to say this forums great. Special mention to all those that put in and actually help out others who pose questions and seek advice. Now, to the advice.

The season has just started here downunder and I'm gonna be going up next week. I normally just ski the slopes but this year realli wanna hit the rails and jumps (or at least learn to). If anyone has any tips on how to learn skiing the terrain parks, laying of jumps and riding the perfect rail it would be greatly appreciated. I ask because last year I attempted jumps and failed. Ended up wif one ski here, the other there and a strained groin muscle.

Regards,
Dom


Don't jump, until you are comfortable on riding "flatboard/flatski," and don't do the "rails," until you nail the [spot] landing, and don't hit the "rails," if you are wishy-washy, you need the "total" commitment to do the rails.

Be safe conscious, and have fun,
IS
post #6 of 24
Here is my progression for teaching rails:

It will REALLY help if you have a friend with you as a spotter, in fact I think it's mandatory for safety. Oh, a brain bucket too!

1) side slips on fairly flat terrain.
2) Hop and land 90* (left and or right) to a side slip on flat terrain.
Do these two for a complete run or two.

3) Stop somewhere flat. From a stand still, hop and land 90* while focusing on landing with most of your weight on the DOWNHILL ski. If you do it correctly, you will catch the front downhill edge and fall over. This is where your spotter is there to catch you.

4) After a bit of that, go into the park and visually inspect the rail you are about to hit. Find the lowest one available, preferably a learning rail no higher than a foot off the ground. Take a ski off and run it down the rail by hand inspecting for burrs in the rail.

5) If the rail is good, start from a stand still while straddling the rail, one ski on either side. With your spotter in place, hop and turn 90* practicing landing with your boots centered on the rail. (Meaning with skis on, but getting the center of your foot centered on the rail). Also, remember to practice landing with weight forward on the DOWNHILL leg. Your spotter is there to catch you and hold you up.

6) After a few trial hops, you should start to feel the balance needed. Now, keeping your weight DOWNHILL, having your spotter hold your hands for balance, begin to slowly slide the rail. If at any point you start to lose balance, don't fight it, simply ski off and go back, start again.

7) After a few runs like this, your spotter should be able to start backing off and letting you start from a stand still, hop and slide on your own.

8) Once you can comfortably slide from a stand still, it's time to add some movement. Go up the hill about a foot, yes, only a foot. Stop, release the skis to start moving until you are straddling the rail and hop...slide.

9) Get comfortable doing this, then move 2-3 feet up the hill to start. All in all, in about an hour to hour and a half following these progressions you should be riding rails comfortably. Start playing with landing switch now. Remember, weight must always be on the downhill ski (70-30 is an excellent split), if you lean back at all, your feet will kick out from under you and you will bust your ass, literally

Finding a low rail to start on is key. I suggest avoiding any rail that has a gap jump in front of it. If you can't find such a rail, there is usually a box that starts this way.

Have fun.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
4) After a bit of that, go into the park and visually inspect the rail you are about to hit. Find the lowest one available, preferably a learning rail no higher than a foot off the ground. Take a ski off and run it down the rail by hand inspecting for burrs in the rail.
Very good point, and definately worth mentioning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
5) If the rail is good, start from a stand still while straddling the rail, one ski on either side. With your spotter in place, hop and turn 90* practicing landing with your boots centered on the rail. (Meaning with skis on, but getting the center of your foot centered on the rail). Also, remember to practice landing with weight forward on the DOWNHILL leg. Your spotter is there to catch you and hold you up.
I would highly recomend this without skis before trying it with skis (it'll minimize risk of injury, and narow down the margin of error before the skis ever touch the rail)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
6) After a few trial hops, you should start to feel the balance needed. Now, keeping your weight DOWNHILL, having your spotter hold your hands for balance, begin to slowly slide the rail. If at any point you start to lose balance, don't fight it, simply ski off and go back, start again.
This can be tricky, biggest problem with a spotter holding your hands is that it is re-inforcing a bad habit that can be difficult to break. The hands should, as rule-of-thumb, be downhill (hands should almost be reaching for the end of the rail). Most often, spotters tend to be on the side of the rail, I wouldn't have so much issue with this if the spotter was strattleing the rail, skiing backwards so to keep your hands and eye focus towards where you want to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
7) After a few runs like this, your spotter should be able to start backing off and letting you start from a stand still, hop and slide on your own.

8) Once you can comfortably slide from a stand still, it's time to add some movement. Go up the hill about a foot, yes, only a foot. Stop, release the skis to start moving until you are straddling the rail and hop...slide.

9) Get comfortable doing this, then move 2-3 feet up the hill to start. All in all, in about an hour to hour and a half following these progressions you should be riding rails comfortably. Start playing with landing switch now. Remember, weight must always be on the downhill ski (70-30 is an excellent split), if you lean back at all, your feet will kick out from under you and you will bust your ass, literally
Don't get discouraged if you cannot slide the whole rail, sliding at a slow speed is the hardest way to slide a rail, and I've seen many extremely competant park skiers, VERY comfortable on rails, not be able to slide a rail at slow speeds. As previously mentioned, speed is your friend on rails, so by just getting comfortable with sliding on the rail and being balanced on the rail at slow speeds, you should be able to step it up a notch with a little bit more speed, but don't go from basic/no speed tactics to full bore down the hill, be realistic with your speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
Finding a low rail to start on is key. I suggest avoiding any rail that has a gap jump in front of it. If you can't find such a rail, there is usually a box that starts this way.
While a gap to rail or box can be a little intimidating, that jump/gap is your friend and a strong ally to rails. The rails/boxes that are basically ski/board-on will not typically have a proper lip to allow you to get a little air and land balanced. Often times, they force a skier to hop and twist and attempt to maintain balance (forcing your COM to moving), where as with a small lip, the skier can maintain balance and allow the skis to come up into the air (kinda bending the knees up - keeping the COM stable) and be better prepared for the rail/box.

One other thing I forgot, but can be helpful in getting prepared for rails/boxes is to use the appraoch jump for the rail/box to practice your feet turning and begin with rotations, approach the rail to one side, get a little air, turn the skis 90 degrees (with you focus ahead, twisting the feet under you), the "bonk" the tips on the rail, and then continue the skis rotation to 180 degrees (you will need to look up hill) and land switch. Of course, before attempting this, you should get comforatble skiing switch, but by doing this, not only are you practicign rails, but you are learning a trick you can bust out, you are learning 180's and you are learning how the body and eyes focus affect rotations while in the air.
post #8 of 24
On jumps: Try to visualize yourself skiing over tall invisible hump instead of flying through the air for your first few tries. When you land, you want to be setting your skis down on the snow like they never left it. Don't worry about turning or whatnot until you land. After you get comfortable with leaving the ground and meeting back up with it while still skiing, then you can start adding tricks. Just start small and think about putting your skis down the way they came up. Most friends I know hurt themselves learning to jump by trying to jump and walk and not land skiing. Rollers are great for getting used to leaving the snow in a forgiving environment.

I have a bad feeling this makes no sense.
post #9 of 24
Damm!!! Some real info came out here/ should paste this into a book/
And oh yea: Landing flat right on the knuckle of a 50Ft table hurts real bad!! when your 40+ years old

MTT
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
Damm!!! Some real info came out here/ should paste this into a book/
And oh yea: Landing flat right on the knuckle of a 50Ft table hurts real bad!! when your 40+ years old
MTT
I know there is some documentation being compiled for PSIA-E and there has been some requests for info from those of us involved in the accredidation process to contribute, but all in all, there is a tonof info available, but you just have to be able to filter out the good from the bad (for example NS.com).

Personally, I have over 200 pages of freestyle freeride documentation that I've compiled from PSIA, CSIA, Pros and general forums.

Oh yeah, and landing on the knuckle of a jump that size at any age sucks. Just some people are partially compiled of bouncy ball material (I've litterally seen people "bounce" a good 5 feet off the landing).
post #11 of 24
I think the only thing worse is completely clearing the landing ramp on a big kicker. I have no personal experience with that, but have seen it plenty of times. It never comes out well.

MTT
post #12 of 24
Manus,

Excellent info you added to my post! A few things I've never considered, but will definitely add into my lessons next season.

Thanks.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
Just some people are partially compiled of bouncy ball material (I've litterally seen people "bounce" a good 5 feet off the landing).
Done that. Knee was upset at me for weeks, but I bounced right back up into the air a good 2 feet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
I think the only thing worse is completely clearing the landing ramp on a big kicker. I have no personal experience with that, but have seen it plenty of times. It never comes out well.
Done that too! I hit a small kicker WAY too fast and jumped it and the next one, and landed in the flats. I'm gonna kill myself at this rate.

<-- knows what not to do.
post #14 of 24
I saw a clip of Simon Dumont overshooting the landing by nearly 100' on a 100' step down earlier this spring. They estimated he literally fell 60'+ onto a flat landing. Needless to say, he's out for awhile...even worse, Tanner Hall came up a few feet short while trying a switch 900 over Chad's Gap...broke both of his heels :
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Great info guysh.....i'm gonna print out this page and bring it up wif me next week. Ta!!
post #16 of 24
Dumonts and Tanners crashes were bad, but in Park, I think Mike Wilson has the worst fall(s), I've seen clips of him overshooting a table and falling a good 40 feet to flat, and getting right back up (advantage of knowing how to fall to minimze injury), but seeing his clip attempting a 140 (I think) gap was just scary to watch, he came up about 5 feet short (its in Yearbook, by MSP). I think the injuries were along the lines of a collapsed lung, broken ribs, compresion fractures in his back, broken heels, separated achilles (on both feet) and numerous other injuries.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
Dumonts and Tanners crashes were bad, but in Park, I think Mike Wilson has the worst fall(s), I've seen clips of him overshooting a table and falling a good 40 feet to flat, and getting right back up (advantage of knowing how to fall to minimze injury), but seeing his clip attempting a 140 (I think) gap was just scary to watch, he came up about 5 feet short (its in Yearbook, by MSP). I think the injuries were along the lines of a collapsed lung, broken ribs, compresion fractures in his back, broken heels, separated achilles (on both feet) and numerous other injuries.
Yeah, I'll agree with you there Manus. Wilson beats on his body bigtime. As for that clip in Yearbook, you're talking about the gap at, IIRC, Aspen, right? Either way, I know the shot you're talking about...that wasn't Mikey Wilson. I don't remember who it was, but yes, it looked seriously painful!
post #18 of 24
it was at Buttermilk (I guess it was only 100 feet- I can't believe I just said ONLY 100 feet) - last paragraph http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...30/xgames.sun/

newspaper article about it with sequence shots in this forum http://www.newschoolers.com/NS2/Foru...hread_id=56358

But the biggest point isn't about who has the worst crashes, but that anyone who is begining to enter the park/backcountry needs to be realistic about their skills and take their time, gradually getting better/bigger air. It is VERY easy to get hurt in the park, but thankfully, most of the time its not major injury. Typically the major injuries are when people try to do to much too fast (like the 19 year old snowboarder a couple years ago at Whistler who broke his neck and is now a quadrapalegic, sp?).

More so in the park and backcountry, caution should be #1 and never be affraid to ask for help, advice, or even instruction. I've gotten some really good explanations from little kids, in fact their explanations were often more readily understood than all the technical jargon that the national Associations tend to throw around.
post #19 of 24
Manus,

I stand corrected
post #20 of 24
The biggest problem I've seen with people learning to jump in the park, is that they aren't comfortable jumping on skis at all. Before you can succefully clear a 5 foot table, you have to be able to take of and land at the speeds required for that table.

Here's my jumping progression (which will also do good things for your skiing even if you never take it into the park):

1. Find a gentle, boring, smooth slope. While skiing (or riding) down this slope practice hopping into the air and landing. Concentrate on really popping into the air and then absorbing the landing with your knees.

2. Find a slightly steeper run and pick up the pace. Feel free to try hopping into new turns, in the middle of turns or wherever else suits you. You may even start trying to jump over obstacles (chunks of snow, grooming lines, ski poles, your buddies skis, etc). By the end, you should feel totally comfortable taking of and landing at speed.

3. Start looking for natural jumps outside of the park. Every mountain has small rollers, natural banks, moguls, and globs of snow that can be used as launch pads. I tell my students at this stage to "ski like an eight-year old." Jump off of anything you can find. Make sure that you continue to jump off the objects. If you let them throw you into the air you will be out of balance, and land awkwardly. You should pop right as your toes reach the lip of each jump.

4. Finally, it's time to head into the park. At this point you should be very comfortable taking off and landing at a reasonable speed, and should have 40 or 50 "jumps" under your belt. Head into the park and start scoping things out. Find the smallest jump in the area and park yourself uphill from the jump. Hang out for a while and watch other people hitting the jump. You should be looking for both the speeds at which they are hitting the jump, and the general park flow. Once you've figured these things out, it times for a test run. Slide into the flow (if the jump is in the middle of a line, make sure you don't cut anyone off) and hit the jump at a very low speed. You should simply roll over the jump without your skis leaving the snow. Now head back around and try hitting the jump at full speed.
post #21 of 24
How about hibbert's crashes? Haha especially in his segment in Forward. Some incredibly painful looking bails. My advice is to make sure you ollie when going off the lip of a jump. Right when you feel you're at the top of the jump you need to jump. If you dont do this chances are you will fall backseat and crash (unless off a ramp with no lip). My friend was trying to hit jumps the first time this season and everytime he didnt pop he ate it.
post #22 of 24
I am no jumper but at the end of last season I determined to hit our smaller 'big jumps'.

I was always worried about either going to fast or to slow. After talking with a young man who landed this jump well I learned when taking off I really need to be forward for sure, so I go that in focus. (mind you I can hit small jump and pop well enough). So next step was to get a grip on what kind of speed I would need to hit it just right. So I skied along side my friend as he hit the jump just to get enough air to clear the flat spot. I did that 4 times realizing as I did I needed quite a bit of speed. So then I decided to give it a whirl. I started down toward the jump with my friend coaching me to stay forward and ensuring me my speed was ok. Well I hit the jump and froze! I did not pop, go forward, or nothing! It felt to me like I was in the air forever and I said to myself ‘wow, I hope I make it!’. I landed just past the flat spot a tad back on my skies. I reckon that woke me up and I was easily able to pull it out. I ended up hitting it 12 times with out a single incident and could judge my speed and made sure to literally tell myself to stay forward. This next season I’ll have my friend help me out once again I’m sure.

The jump was about 6 - 8 feet high with the back cut 90 deg down to about a 10 foot table top then the downlhill landing... or something like that. It wasn't a simple bump or nothing , it is a snowcat created jump.

There you go…
post #23 of 24
Also on the list of things not to do:

Don't decide to go hit a table for the first time ever with only the knowledge that you need to hit it fast to clear the flat top. I did that once and jumped off into the sunset, loosing all equipment on the pancake landing out in the flats.

Do listen to the above posters and ski a jump slow the first time and/or next to someone hitting the jump while on the flats to see what the proper speed range is.
post #24 of 24
There's an excellent post from ShawnB in response to a similar question last year... (more focus on jumps than rails)
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...774#post247774
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