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Learning the park...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ever since I started skiing I've always stayed away from the park. I've skiied for near my whole life and feel like the park is the only thing I really can't do. I guess even though I'm still young I feel like its kind of trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

In the last 2 years I've learned things like 180s and boxes, but thats just self taught and I cant bring myself to do much more. I see the kids doing it these days and its absolutley awesome to me. Since I only get like 3 weeks a year out west I find it hard to ditch the pow and humiliate myself in the park.

I guess I am just thinking that someone has had the same experience as me but has actually learned how to ski the park. Is the best thing to do just to take park lessons? Any mental advice anyone can give? Thanks guys.
post #2 of 11
Welcome PowderShots,

I'm a 22 yr old instructor who've only hitted the park since last year (07/08), my repertoire pre-'09 season include 720s, 540 switches, front flips, and a couple of maneuvers that I haven't found names for.

I tackle booters, half-pipes, and quarterpipes, you know... snow-only features, no rails or jibs; I prefer my edges to remain intact .

It hasn't been that long ago since I flailed off my first jump. I can tell you from experience that the second most important thing going into the park and off those kickers (first being safety: know your limits) is to develop air-sense.

Air-sense is the feeling of knowing where you are and controlling your movement in midair... the opposite of flailing. Air-sense is the ability to tighten up those CORE muscles and gauge the right moment when you drop your landing gear. How is it achieved? Experience.

Start small, catch small air, then go bigger as your ability to control yourself in midair improves. Sooner than not, you'll find yourself able to tackle what once scared you to death like it was just another drive to work. It took me at least 30 jumps before I found the air-sense to spin my first 360. Repetition builds muscle memory builds air-sense builds confidence. Practice practice practice.

Since you only get 3 weeks out there, I would recommend finding some way of developing that air-sense off the snow. A trampoline at the local gymnasium with qualified gymnast instructors coaching you will be a boon to your park ability, this is speaking from experience too.

Park lessons from qualified ski instructors will help, but air-sense must be developed before you ask him or her how to spin a 360 across that booter.

Lastly but most importantly, and I can't repeat it enough times to students asking me about the terrain park: Safety first! Know your ability and limits! Don't go from a 20 foot into a 60 foot monster! Make sure you get the 360 down pat before attempting that 540 then 720!
post #3 of 11

Dumb post, deleted.

Edited by patches - 2/20/11 at 4:00pm
post #4 of 11
Are lessons offered in terrain parks? I haven't heard of any.
post #5 of 11
My little bump resort in PA offers TP lessons. Most of thee lessons are "intro to park" taught to kids because moms are trying to keep them safe. We teach them basic etiquette and slope style and the basics of the features they are interested in. The most valuable thing the kids walk away with is how to start small and work their way up.

Many resorts that don't offer specific TP lessons will let regular lessons be taught in the park (groups rarely, privates definitely). Some resorts have specifically forbidden any lessons in the park (there are some liability issues that need to be addressed).

There are many many park rats that have learned the park simply by watching others. There's nothing wrong with this. Many of the kids that take TP lessons don't have friends to show them the ropes and do have Moms who can afford to get pro help instead. We also see a few people looking for solutions to specific problems (e.g. spinning). One option that may work well for people like powdershots is to attend a camp (e.g. Windells).

With respect to mental advice, there are two parts:
1) Convince yourself you understand the basics of what the teachnique is for the feature you are attempting to use
2) Easy style it - start small and work your way larger

You also have to be mentally ready to get hurt. If you're afraid of getting hurt, you'll be focused on that instead of things you need to focus on to be successful. If you're not afraid of getting hurt, you'll be taking on risk beyond your ability. Somewhere in the middle is a spot where you take reasonable precautions but then go for it.
post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by supermanhicks View Post
Are lessons offered in terrain parks? I haven't heard of any.
Give your local ski school a call. Even if they're not advertised, if the mountain has a park than the ski school probably has an instructor who can run a clinic there. You may end up having to pay for a private lesson if there isn't anyone else who wants to go there, but I'd be willing to bet that any mountain with a decent sized terrain park probably will offer a lesson there if you ask.
post #7 of 11
Another great preparation for the season is to contact a local gymnastics academy. We just did a trampoline clinic this weekend in preparation for the season. Getting a real good feel for spins & balance on a trampoline will help a lot this winter. The trainer was not a skier/boarder but had no problem working with us. The moves are the same. You can work on spins and grabs and the effort required to pull them off safely on a trampoline.
post #8 of 11
I've found that one of the keys to progressing in the park is repetition. If you ski through the whole park, you're never going to be able to really "get to know" each feature. Instead, I recommend picking a single feature and repeatedly hiking it.

For example, if you're trying to learn to slide rails, find a good starter rail, and spend an hour or so repeatedly hiking and hitting that single rail. Once you've gotten comfortable, you can move on to sliding different rails in the park.

By hiking the feature, you really get to know it, so you can focus on what it is you're trying to learn rather that how each feature is built. (For example, each rail in the park will have a slightly different feel, so if you stick to a single rail you will quickly learn how slippery it is, and can focus on the sliding motion, rather than having to deal with an unknown surface.)
post #9 of 11
If you aren't comfortable hitting jumps yet, don't be afraid of straight air. Keep adding postage until you're sending it and tucking out the approach to try and find more speed. Unfortunately, the only way to build confidence hitting the jumps is to crash a couple hundred times and live through it. No better time than now to start the parade of flailing and tail-gun air. I've never seen a really good park skier who hasn't been injured, so like therusty said... you roll them dice you take the chances.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by PowderShots View Post
Is the best thing to do just to take park lessons? Any mental advice anyone can give? Thanks guys.

Hi PowderShots, great questions about getting into park skiing!

Park lessons are very valuable considering that you are looking at a limited amount of time to learn park as well as you have a need for someone who can actually watch what you are doing and be able to give you direct feedback on your movements. It sounds like you have taught yourself some of the basics and that is great (180's, intro box slide.) The instructor will appreciate if you already have a comfort level with some features.

The instructor should address the ATML approach to park/pipe.
A-Approach (speed, state of mind)
T-Takeoff (balance, "pop", and setting rotation)
M-Manuever (air awareness, grab and spin)
L-Landing (balance, absorption and afterbang)

There has been some great advice so far in this thread but do not be intimidated by the tales of "crashing a hundred times." If you take calculated risks and set yourself up for success you can be rewarded significantly.

You must be in touch with your desire to learn. When I learn a new trick nothing else exists in my mind. I tell myself over and over that "I want this trick" and it really helps. A couple of years ago I saw a skier throw a handplant in the pipe in Session 1242 (Oakley Video) and I just kept hiking and hiking the pipe until i got it and now they are automatic.

Some people prefer rails while others prefer pipe. Try what intrigues you and stay focused on learning that aspect.

Do not be discouraged if it takes a while to learn. Skiing is a highly unnatural sport and throwing yourself into the air is counter to survival. But realize that all of skiing is one big fat unnecessary risk. If you didn't take a risk in your life you would never get out of bed in the morning. So why not have some fun and try what is scary. Just remember that the only way out is through.

As a few others have stated, call ahead and ensure that the ski area has an "alpine freeride/freestyle accredited" instructor available for when you want to go. If they do not then someone with park abilities will be able to help.

Please take a lesson if only to learn how to mitigate danger and assess risk. No one skis the park very well injured on the couch.

Hope that helps.

post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by ski_nerd13 View Post
I just kept hiking and hiking the pipe until i got it...
Which is to say, he crashed a hundred times, give or take.
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