Originally Posted by Altanaut
What tips would you give to someone who wants to start taking a little air -- someone who's of a, hmm, somewhat advanced age and who has no intention of ever going bigger than, say 10 feet onto extremely soft snow? Make that 4-5 feet.
-when learning, be sure to find a spot that has a wide open landing area or runout. The last thing you want to worry about is having to crank some quick turns immediately after stomping your landing. give yourself plenty of room to let the skis run in case you're not 100% in control after landing.
-check your landing.
especially important if it's an area you're not familiar with or a cliff that you haven't hit before. Check out the bottom of the cliff and visualize where you want to land. Poke around the snow with your pole. You'll want to look for any buried rocks, but mainly you want to ge a feel for the consistency of the snow in the landing. i.e. is it five feet of fluff? is it 6 inches on top of a crusty layer? This will help prepare you for what the landing will feel like when you touch down.
-check your takeoff.
What I mean here is just choose a cliff when learning that has snow right up to it's edge so you don't have to 'pre-jump' over any 'shark's teeth' or anything. And make sure there aren't any rocks at the the lip of the takeoff just under the snow surface that can grab your skis on take off and throw you off balance. If it's powder at the lip of the jump, and no one has hit it before you, you might want to just pack the snow down a bit so you know you'll have a predictable smooth takeoff point. (this can be especially important in Utah if you have an early season dump of light snow w/o much of a base).
-after checking the takeoff and landing. VISUALIZE.
Sight where you intend to land and visualize yourself doing just that. Run it through your head a few times. Imagine the speed you'll want to be going to hit your landing. maybe watch others hit it first to get a sense of what's working for them.
-At takeoff stay nice and loose and balanced in an athletic stance. If it's only 4-5 feet, you won't have to get into too tight of a ball like you might see some guys do who take larger airs....on a small air like this you'll really only be airborne for a half a second (that's it!) so you'll only have time to bring your knees up a little.
-in the air, just stay loose, bring your knees up just a bit so you can be ready to stomp the landing and keep your eyes where you want to go. For a 4 -5 foot air, you're only going to be in the air for a split second, so you'll just have enough time to bring your feet up a little. Maybe something akin to this:
-on landing, it's important to think about PUSHING your feet into the snow. This is very important. Don't let the snow push your feet and knees up to you, but be aggresive and actively push your feet down into the snow to meet the landing. However, don't reach out with your feet too early as this will cause you to hit the landing too extended which you don't want to do either. But this is how you'll 'stomp' the landing. If you're too passive, and let the snow/ground push up into you...then you'll have a higher chance of getting bucked or thrown off balance. Show that landing who's boss!! Don't let the landing just 'catch you', you're in control!!
-after landing, ski way, hoot and holler, slap high fives, then go back and do it again!....OR head straight to the bar or the internet and rave about the 40 footer you just hit
other than those basics....just relax, have fun, and don't shoot your eye out