Toeside turns--Looking Yourself Into Them

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Toeside turns--Looking Yourself Into Them

Postby SteveH » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:20 pm

Here's another tidbit that has made a big difference in my toeside turns. I had been riding with chin mostly lined up with my forward shoulder. One of my instructors at Vail commented that he used to ride that way, but found that turning his head into the turn worked better. I was confused because I thought I was looking into the turn because my chin pointed the direction the board was going.

I eventually figured out that what he meant is that prior to initiating the toeside turn you should rotate your head so that your chin is pointing almost 90 degrees across the board, so you are looking sideways instead of ahead. It turns out that this unlocks your shoulders and hips so that it is much easier to initiate the turn.

Try it both ways and I think you'll find that looking yourself into the toeside turn will make the turn initiation much easier and feel more natural.

Steve
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Postby SteveH » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:55 am

I've gotten a new insight into the toeside turn. Keeping my eyes locked down the slope caused my lead shoulder to open (i.e. rotate to to heelside) when initiating the toeside turn. The open shoulder caused the the lead hip to drop, taking the weight off the front leg. No front leg pressure = no turning impetus = weak turn.

So in addition to looking into the toeside turn I am trying to be very conscious of the lead shoulder and hip-keeping them directly over the front foot. I sometimes think of driving the front shoulder forward and inside of the front leg to emphasize the commitment to the turn.

When I get it right, the turn happens like magic with immediate edge engagment and I can shape the turn however I wish. That transforms steep pitches from toe skid to heel skid to a smooth sine wave with effortless speed control.

Then I totally forget how to make it work and I'm back to digging into the snow with my toes for dear life! At least I now know what it feels like to do it right and I am spending lots of time trying for a perfect run where every turn feels immediately and continuously engaged and controlled.

SteveH
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Postby Rob » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:18 pm

Steve-

I've read and learned from many of your posts. You have a gift for writing about the process of learning to snowboard and having looked at many of the books on the market, I think you should seriously consider writing a book. There are plenty of expert snowboarders who have written books, but they have largely forgotten what it is like to be a beginner. At the very least, keep writing for GoT. We need you.

Rob
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heel to toe

Postby Snowride » Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:30 pm

Hi Steve and Rob
I am new to GOT (Grays on Trays) and thought I would comment on the toeside turn. What helps me is to think of the following: I imagine a great big heavy steel door which I have to push open and shut with every turn. So you have to line up your shoulder and body to make that happen. With my arms extended, I am pushing the door shut as I transition from heel to toe edge. Another thing that helps is to think of a little invisible patch with I have sewn (figuratively) to my front side hip (left hip for regular riders, right hip for goofy) As you make each turn, you are going to pull a string (invisible, or course!) that is attached to this patch. Pulling the string will make your hip go forward (downhill), thus, putting weight on that downhill foot to make the transition of your turn easier. By the way, do you do the tortional flex with your ankles? I would add that as well.
Hope this makes sense.
I'm a snowboarding grandma approaching 60. Got a place at Bear Valley California and would love to hang with others like me.
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Postby SteveH » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:06 pm

Rob,

Thanks so much for the feedback! It's really nice to know that the comments are helpful.

Your thoughts are particularly meaningful right now because I have actually thought about the need for a different kind of snowboarding book. I agree with you that most of the books tend to gloss over the basics and jump right to more advanced topics. In particular, there is no book that I have seen that deals with the fundamental movements and their effects on the board.

I learned to ski doing clinics with a phenomenal pair of instructors: Harald Harb and Diana Rogers. Their "Anyone can be an Expert Skier" books are models of clarity and precision. Their clinics start everyone, even advanced skiers, doing movement and control exercises at slow speed on shallow slopes. At slow speeds the balance and positions have to be right or you fall over because you don't have momentum and centrifugal force to cover the bobbles. Once the movements begin to embed in muscle memory you can practice at higher speeds with much less effort.

I have tried to employ the same approach to learning snowboarding. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent compendium of the essential movements that I have found so I have been picking up bits and pieces wherever I can from various books and instructors and particularly from our colleagues here on Grays on Trays. I try to leave trails of bread crumbs here so that everyone doesn't need to reinvent the wheel just as I have benefitted from so many of the comments here.

Perhaps we should collaborate on writing "Fundamental Snowboard Movements". Or better yet, we could create a wiki for our Grays on Trays community which would be a snowboard learning guide based on our collective experiences. What do you think John?

Steve
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Re: Looking yourself into a toeside turn

Postby Rob » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:33 pm

SteveH wrote:I eventually figured out that what he meant is that prior to initiating the toeside turn you should rotate your head so that your chin is pointing almost 90 degrees across the board, so you are looking sideways instead of ahead. It turns out that this unlocks your shoulders and hips so that it is much easier to initiate the turn.

Try it both ways and I think you'll find that looking yourself into the toeside turn will make the turn initiation much easier and feel more natural.

Steve


Today was a breakthrough day for me, though unfortunately it is probably my last snowboarding day for 2007-08. I started the day on on the really nice run at Heavenly that I've recommended to people learning to turn. [That post is in the Western US/Canada topic].

On a relatively shallow slope I tried SteveH's "look off on a line perpendicular to the board to initiate a toeside turn" and for the first time in my three snowboarding seasons I linked five consecutive turns!

On the strength of this, I signed up for a lesson and by the end of the two-hour lesson I was linking turns all the way down this run.

Using just Steve's "perpendicular look" and shifting my weight forward, however, I frequently found that once on my toe edge, especially where it was steep, I was more doing a back slide on my toe edge than traversing on my toe edge. My instructor, a New Zealander named Hamish (which seems a Scots name to me), suggest bending my front knee into the toe side turn and pushing my hips out over the toe edge. This combined with Steve's perpendicular look really got me initiating and then traversing on the edge and has me celebrating a breakthrough day.

I also told Hamish about GoT, and he said he would point his wiser students toward our (well it's John's, but I admit it feels like mine too) site.
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Postby Rob » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:03 pm

SteveH wrote:Rob,

Thanks so much for the feedback! It's really nice to know that the comments are helpful.

Your thoughts are particularly meaningful right now because I have actually thought about the need for a different kind of snowboarding book. I agree with you that most of the books tend to gloss over the basics and jump right to more advanced topics. In particular, there is no book that I have seen that deals with the fundamental movements and their effects on the board.


You're welcome! It's true that the available books tend to gloss over the basics, but what I had in mind was an old truism about teaching (I was a professor for 17 years). What I found separated the best teachers from the rest, was a finely tuned ability to remember what it was like NOT to know the principle you now want to teach. This is a variation on the theme of being able to put yourself in the student's shoes (boots?) and then really remember the small steps that brought you from not knowing to knowing. So the best teachers find ways to stay close to not knowing while they continue to take their own understanding deeper.

Steve, I'm not sure whether you were asking John or me to collaborate on your book, but I really think you have a unique perspective on learning to ride and a keen sense of your body on the board. You don't need a collaborator, you just need time to devote to it. My magnum opus is on computational cell biology and all my writing energy is going there. [Except what goes to GoT, of course] A wiki is fine, but a lot of Grays are not web-savvy enough to find a new Wiki. Maybe you should consider the Thinking in Java business model. Bruce Eckel says that people told him he was crazy to put his entire book on the web for free download, but this drives people who want to learn Java to his site, and it turns out that a lot of those people want a paper book and are happy to buy it, especially after they really can see what it contains.
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Re: Looking yourself into a toeside turn

Postby SteveH » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:26 pm

Rob wrote:On a relatively shallow slope I tried SteveH's "look off on a line perpendicular to the board to initiate a toeside turn" and for the first time in my three snowboarding seasons I linked five consecutive turns!


Hey Rob,

Congratulations on your breakthrough day! Sounds like Hiram's suggestions got your weight over your toe edge which helped you stop skidding out.

You should come out to Colorado for a week and really consolidate your riding. There is nothing like stringing a bunch of days together to take your ridng to the next level.

SteveH
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Re: heel to toe

Postby SteveH » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:10 pm

Snowride wrote:What helps me is to think of the following: I imagine a great big heavy steel door which I have to push open and shut with every turn. So you have to line up your shoulder and body to make that happen. With my arms extended, I am pushing the door shut as I transition from heel to toe edge. Another thing that helps is to think of a little invisible patch with I have sewn (figuratively) to my front side hip (left hip for regular riders, right hip for goofy) As you make each turn, you are going to pull a string (invisible, or course!) that is attached to this patch. Pulling the string will make your hip go forward (downhill), thus, putting weight on that downhill foot to make the transition of your turn easier. By the way, do you do the tortional flex with your ankles? I would add that as well.
Hope this makes sense.


Hi Snowride,

Thanks for the great visualization. I find that it helps a lot to both know what you need to have your body do to cause the action (e.g. weight over the front foot to engage the steering edge) and have an active movement that creates the correct body position (opening and closing the heavy door). I'll file away the door and invisible patch to try out and share.

I rode with an instructor recently who strongly emphasized torsional flex. We rode at very low speed using only torsion on the front of the board to make turns. It really tuned me in to what it takes to twist the board and the effect it has. It also made me realize that my board is extremely stiff. I'm planning to demo a more flexible board pretty soon to seen how much difference it makes.

SteveH
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