By Dan Smith, 2007.
When teaching frontside 360s, have you ever seen your students skid 90 degrees before takeoff and felt the need to shield your eyes as they almost catch a toe edge when they reach the lip of the jump?! If the students were lucky enough they will have cleared the lip, but they probably washed off so much speed that they landed painfully before or on the knuckle. This issue is caused largely by students making the strong upper-body rotations necessary to create enough power for the spin, but leaving those movements unchecked in the lower-body and causing the board to skid.
So, what board performance concept could we incorporate into the approach of the jump that would allow our students to fully utilise those upper-body movements, without affecting the board’s direction?
Quite simply, the answer is twist – torsional twist!
While teaching torsional twist our predominant focus is in aiding the initiation of a turn by flattening just the front half of our board to disengage the uphill edge, which guides the rest of the board downhill. However, it is not often that we think of using twist to delay the control phase of a turn and allow the board to run straighter for longer.
As your student rotates their upper-body to create the power needed for a frontside 360, the energy transfers down their lower-body and eventually to the board. As this happens, the approach from the bottom of the ramp to the lip of the jump becomes quite similar to the control phase of a turn. To minimise pivot and turn shape on the ramp we can employ torsional twist by flattening the front foot while leaving the back foot engaged, keeping the board running straighter off the lip. This will leave us with a stable platform to jump from while controlling the direction of travel.
By using twist during the approach we are also building tension in the core as the upper-body begins to anticipate the spin while the lower body works against it. When this energy is released your students will notice a considerably more powerful rotation, which allows for faster and bigger spins.
This only becomes a problem once our students land, as we don’t want them to continue spinning on the snow (reverting) which can easily lead to that toe catch – exactly what we set out to avoid!
One way we can prevent the board from reverting is to block any excess upper-body rotation by using twist to keep the board running straight after landing. Once again your students will notice a build up of tension in the core only this time it will be fought against and absorbed, instead of released.
As you can see, the uses and applications of torsional twist are many and varied – it is a highly efficient and effective movement option for both freeriding and freestyle. Not only can it aid in the initiation of a turn, twist can also be used to delay pivot in the control phase and prevent the sometimes unwanted completion of a turn, even after strong rotary movements.
Remember, this is only one example of where twist can be utilised in freestyle riding. Once you have explored some of the options for frontside spins, go and see what is possible when you incorporate twist into backside spins.
The mountain is our playground!