Jumping

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Chapter 8 – Jumping and The Terrain Park

Before you skip this chapter because you have no intention to jump of anything or entering the Terrain Park, think again, as there are some very important techniques in this chapter for general advanced skiing. Skiing has become cool again, at one point any young person looking to start skiing would only consider becoming a boarder. Cool clothes, hats, boards with sexy graphics on them, grabs and fun parks, all things that have now influenced the old fashioned skier (remember those florescent jump suits?). With the introduction of ‘New School Skiing’ skiers are now becoming cool again, in fact some are even showing the boarders a thing or two.

The design of a new ski has come from a snowboard so there is no reason that we can’t have fun in the terrain parks as well. The great thing is that it is easier for a skier to do some tricks as the landing is so much safer. If you think about it we learned that our lower legs become a spring when we ski fast and the same goes for jumping. For a boarder when they land they have to be balanced perfectly otherwise they can catch an edge or face plant. The problem lies in the lower legs due to the position of the feet on a snowboard, it’s hard to adsorb the impact on landing. For the skier both feet are pointing in a more natural forward position (with luck) and the lower legs can come right up to the chest to adsorb the landing.

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Rich off piste in Chamonix

So how do we jump in skiing? Jumping of small obstacles can be fun and sometimes necessary, maybe to miss a rock or jump between two bumps or miss a tree stump. I would recommend jumping of anything you can find whilst skiing around. I learned by following a snowboarder, as skiers we tend not to be as adventurous as our snowborder friends. The first time I skied with a boarder I thought he was mad, just heading off the piste through the trees into gully and off any lump at the side of the piste. But this is all training for skiing off piste and free riding the whole mountain, you can come across anything at any time and you need to know how to react.

In order to jump we need to balanced for the take off, in order retain your balance throughout the take off you need to get really low, say 80%. This will keep you weight in the centre of the ski even if you hit a large ramp. The problem arises if we try to react to a jump we will always over compensate and either jump forwards or lean backwards (not good – I recall). So stay low and centred, for take off you need an explosive start. Push off with both feet and stand up tall with your arm wide. This will stop any rotation during flight, if you think of an ice skater in a spin, the smaller they are the faster they spin. Following your explosive start bring you knees up as far as you can, this is quite a natural. Now as you come to land bring both your arms forwards and bring your legs down. The arms as we know are for balance and when you land there will be a tendency to be pushed backwards, so arms forward helps cancel this out. Keep your legs relaxed for impact so that they can bend like a spring with a straight back and at the same time plant both poles to help with any sideways forces on landing. That’s it, crouched start, explosive takeoff, undercarriage up, arms forward on final approach, undercarriage down, land. It’s a good idea to have a reasonable speed as this makes the landing much softer, if you are stalled (no forwards momentum) when you land it can be quite hard. Now try this in the Terrain Park and watch the boarders do little jumps and crash on landing, jumping on skis is like jumping off a high wall with a softer landing. If you want to add a little ‘New School’ technique try crossing your skis when you bring your knees up and even do a little grab.

If you are going to head into the terrain park I would recommend sticking to the jumps and avoiding the half pipe, as for a skier the half pipe is much harder than for a snowboarder (this is where they get their own back from the jumping). The reason is that the boarders can go up the sides of the half pipe, bottle out and just come down again without turning. For the skier we have to commit to a turn or fall down. Even if you have ‘New School’ twin tip skis it doesn’t look very elegant until you get really good.

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