By Kelly Barclay, 2008.
To a beginner ‘basic stance’ is the way to stand on a snowboard. For an Instructor basic stance is a tool to make his or her job easier. To a Trainer/Examiner the basic stance is a standard by which to coach, it is a means in which to assess, and is a way to ensure consistency.
The basic stance is a neutral position, its purpose is to optimise balance, and provide a base from which to move. However, basic stance is not the only way in which we can ride our snowboards effectively. A truly talented snowboarder is someone who is versatile and able to blend different ideas and concepts together in order to adapt to different situations.
To highlight this here’s an alternative technique in the form of a boarder-x / racing stance which will encourage the exploration of new concepts outside of that ‘basic stance’.
The boarder-x Turn/ Techno-Carve
These turns can be performed both with a racing setup (positive binding angles) or freestyle setup (positive and negative binding angles or ‘duck stance’). Ideally the racing setup is best, but it’s interesting to feel the increase in performance you’re able to gain out a freestyle setup by applying this technique.
- Firstly, adopt a more open body position on your board, shoulders and hips perpendicular to the length of the snowboard. To achieve this, think of flexing both ankle and knee joints and rotating both knees in the direction of the nose. Have your hands out in front as though holding a pole that is parallel to the height of your chest. For the purpose of this article we shall call this position ‘Crouching Tiger’.
- On a wide run begin riding in the ‘Crouching Tiger’ position making large closed carved tuns. Once familiar with this open position, try focusing on keeping your upper-body tall, while having your shoulders matching the angle of the slope, flexing mainly through your ankles, knees and hips.
- Next focus on trying to keep our upper-body and back tall (pretend you have a clock pendulum attached to your forehead, when you are turning, attempt to have that pendulum align with your nose, then sternum, then bellybutton). To help you achieve this think of pinching your downhill rib, and downhill hip together; hold the pinch for as long as you can during the completion of the turn. This is vital as it’s where the most force will be exerted on you and your board.
- After practice and experimenting, you’ll find that you’re able to focus more power and energy into the completion of your turns, and will notice a sensation of being able to engage and utilise the section of your edge closest to your back foot. This technique can be adapted to both a ‘Basic’ or ‘Dynamic’ movement pattern.
- If you’re having difficulty relating to this position, try riding with a pole positioned behind your neck, think of trying not to let your pole touch the snow uphill of you. Alternatively, with your hand that is on the outside of your turn, try to grab or touch your downhill edge. Throughout this exercise remember to maintain an aligned upper-body.
This technique has applications for a number of different areas, predominantly boarder-x and racing, but also general free riding and could even be adapted to increase board performance within the halfpipe. It’s important to keep an open mind when dealing with our own personal style of riding; there are many different styles to be explored and it would be ignorant to believe that there is a single “correct” style. Be unique with your riding and explore outside your comfort zone… Branch out!