Friday, May 1, 2015

Big Air on Bigger Jumps

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One last snowboard post before it all melts...
Big snowboard jumps is one of the highlights of the sport. It's really one of the only boardsports where you can soar so high and far that you should be required to get a pilots license. Doing this carries with it the thrill of a reckless disregard for both gravity and safety; but if you maintain the proper techniques, you can retain just enough control to land, allowing you to go for bigger and bigger jumps with confidence.
rick air sequence
Lien Air: Notice I'm prepped for the grab with a flat takeoff, keep it tight and then level off at the end. (note: My shoulders are a little less square than I would advise on the landing. You want to be even with the board if you can).
We're at the tail end of the season, which is a good time to go bigger. Here are some tips to do it well:
  1. Go fast: If I'm trying a big jump, I find it helpful to go a little faster than you think you need to. It's easy to lose speed on the uphill part of a jump, and even easier to mis-judge the distance. Go a little faster than you think and you'll likely clear the flat. Even if you do overshoot it, that's usually much better than clipping the top of the landing ramp. (Also, it's a great confidence booster for the next size jump.)
  2. Stay flat: Keep your board flat on the approach. Unless you're trying a spin, you want to keep the board as flat as possible for takeoff, otherwise you may catch an edge or start rotating mid-air, which is never a good thing, and usually results in a window-crank motion that looks amateurish.
  3. Tuck: Keep your knees bent and stay low. You often don't need to jump much to clear the gap, as your speed and the angle of the ramp will do the work for you. Keep tucked and you'll have much more stability on the takeoff as well as while you're sailing through the air.
  4. Grab: If you follow step three, this part almost comes naturally. Do whatever grab feels most comfortable (for me it's a lien) and hold for as long as you can (style points). Grabbing keeps you more stable in the air and looks nice and clean. It can also help you keep your balance as a little tweak can counteract shifting mid-air (and adds even more style points).
  5. Land flat: When gravity pulls you back down from the high of flight, release your grab and try to land just as you took off -- flat. Also, try your best to keep your shoulders square with the board. You'll have a lot of speed, so take this time to catch a controlled edge and slow down (unless there's another jump right after!).
tay air sequence
My friend Taylor with his signature Method Air. Notice he keeps it tight and levels off at the end for a flat landing.
I've said before in a previous post about surfing that size is relative when it comes to your personal progression in boardsports. But no matter what a "big" jump is for you, these principals can help you push your progression for maximized control, and maximized fun!
Go shred till the snow is gone, then post your own pics of your biggest air below!
[photos taken at Mammoth Mountain by @jnanfelt and @taycalm]

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