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Almost alpine stances on freeride boards/long riding - technique adaptations?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have a student who is complaining of leg and knee pain when riding his snowboard with regular stance angles. He's set his board up with stance angles similar to his long (skate) board riding style (about 30/20). But he's throwing his upper body around wildly (gawd I wish I had video) to make his turns. I told him we wanted to get his turns to happen from lower body movements and that we could go in one of two directions: go all the way to alpine stances or tone down his angles a bit. We tried plan B and I got him almost making regular turns in the lesson, but he went right back to his old ways when the lesson was over (insert boing sound effect here). Last week I spotted him with his board set up with the back foot angled 10 degrees more than the front and advised him to keep the back foot no more than the front (which he did change - ending up at about 20/15), but I did not get to see his riding.

I know I'm overdue for learning how to ride alpine style (so far it's not been pretty). I'm thinking the best approach for this guy is to just put him on an alpine board. This is the second guy I've run across trying to ride in between normal and alpine stances on a regular board. The first guy successfully "graduated" to an alpine board and style. Am I nuts in thinking that there is no happy compromise between heel-toe movements and lateral movements between the two styles?
post #2 of 9
Paging Lowell Hart.
post #3 of 9
Well, there are limitations in what the equipment supports.  Boardercross "standard" stance angles run around 24/9, which would not be a bad reference point and not too different from what, say, Terje used some time ago.  Even with very stiff soft boots and bindings, with the highback rotated, you'll start to run into some loss of efficiency when you get much steeper than that.  Personally I've ridden low 30s and 18 or so and had fun but definitely felt that this was sort of the limit (I may have even gone a bit steeper with the rear angle) but I'd put it under the fun experiment header.  There are some people who do run higher with softboots and their riding always looks limited to me.  (I suck as a rider, but a good rider could make say 33/18 work really well with a very stiff setup.)

It sounds to me like your student is used to swinging his arms a lot as a result of his skateboard pumping style, is transferring that to the snow, and then torquing his knees a bit with the rotation.  Back in the day lots of people in places like Jackson rode alpine on freeride boards, and a very small number of snowboard mountaineers still do this.  (But, these days riders in places like Jackson are virtually all slightly ducked, and there may be valuable info from this collective judgment.)

But, to make a completely unsupported inference, someone relying on that arm-pumping style who switches to alpine gear would then simply be a limited rider on alpine gear, potentially with even more leverage to cause knee and back strain down the road.  But, the alpine stance with hard boots, even on a freeride board, might work better if he won't change the technique.

Personally the better outcome would be for him to work on his technique along the lines you've already suggested.   A good rider wanting to experiment, by contrast, could try say 21/6, 24/9 and then 27/15 and find that carving gets easier, some other types of balance start to go a bit around there.  (Incidentally, some riders now ride angles like 12/ -18 to get more pop off of the tail, and for an instructor it could be a good exercise to try these types of angles, too.) 
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
... Am I nuts in thinking that there is no happy compromise between heel-toe movements and lateral movements between the two styles?

I think the potential issue here relates more to theory (whether you're "twisted" or not) and not to what works on-snow.

The gear options are already there up to a certain level of forward angles for softboots.  For alpine riders, as boards have gotten wider stance angles have come down, so you have a not-too-big gap between forward, but workable, stiff softboot angles and some alpine angles.  Technique-wise obviously there will be proportionately more lateral input and available lateral hip displacement the steeper you go, but you will still have a lot of heel-toe and ankle involvement unless you go really steep with an alpine setup.  So there should be more of a continuum of technique as opposed to a sharp contrast.
Edited by CTKook - 3/9/10 at 7:32am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
OK - if I have this right, if one is to attempt compromise stance angles, stiffer boots and forward turned highbacks are going to help.

I've ridden with the Jackson ducks and my personal experience fits their collective wisdom.

The problem is that my student says there is no pain when he rides "wild" but that there is pain when he rides in a normal stance with normal movements. I can see that he does not have the movements to move weight over the edge of the board in high stance angles, but I can't demonstrate movements that would be more effective for him with my current stance angles. I guess it's time to break out the tool and see if I can ride that way on my regular board and also get my alpine board out of the basement.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post

OK - if I have this right, if one is to attempt compromise stance angles, stiffer boots and forward turned highbacks are going to help...
The problem is that my student says there is no pain when he rides "wild" but that there is pain when he rides in a normal stance with normal movements. I can see that he does not have the movements to move weight over the edge of the board in high stance angles...
First sentence -- yes.

2d:  I think you have him engaging his edge more in a normal stance with normal movements.  Engaged edge = more leverage from the board vs the flatter board that he's used to pivoting around with grenade-throwing rotational upper body movements == more ability to tweak joints with all the rotation he's grooved into his riding style.

Most of the fundamentals should be the same whether he's 21/15 or ducked.  At 21/15, some good reference points in addition to general basics such as level shoulders, are rear hand somewhat behind rear toe on heelsides, NOT driving with the knees but instead allowing your hips to displace along with using your ankles and heel/toe (knees and shoulders should be "roughly" aligned with binding angles as a default neutral position), not reaching for the snow, and over time developing a feel for transferring balance along the length of the board as the turn develops. 

Garlands, hands in pockets, and Pavlovian conditioning all seem worth exploring to quiet the upper body and build good mechanics, if he's motivated and disciplined to try this.  In all events breaking out the screwdriver on the tool and trying different things is fun, just remember to go a bit narrower in stance as you get more forward. 
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
CT - student complains of pain at normal angles riding in his "normal" style. No more or less pain when I tried to quiet his riding on more normal angles. But on his first day I did have him carving so well it was scary. I was trying to teach him how to add skidding so that he would not get clobbered on our crowded trails. So you probably have something about the engaged edge tweaking joints thing.

In the meantime I experimented with +45/+30 angles on a rental freestyle board. I discovered that dynamic turn (e.g. sequential vs simultaneous) movements worked best. I had expected that there would be some sense of sideways movements, but instead I felt more of a sense of "diving" into turns. My turns may not have been very impressive but the WTF looks from the other pros on staff were priceless.
post #8 of 9
Pretty cool to do that on an LTR board...I think your rental stock there is LTR?  Thx for the update.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I think it was a Cruiser? We have mostly LTRs, but we have some rental boards for "riders". You can't truly respect your students until you've stood in their .... rental gear.
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