AASI 2005 Mini Academy
at Killington, VT
Poor Randy Price. There's nothing like trying to clinic people on the first day of their season. We were 7 snowboard instructors at the AASI-E Weekend Mini Academy at Killington. Half of us were just getting our legs and were more focused on getting up to speed instead of trying to learn something. Randy is the AASI National Demo Team coach. He's a great guy and behind a lot of the "stuff" that we get from other demo team members and our local examiners. But he's not into techno speak. He had a powerful message to get through to us in two days of riding. The big question is: Can "basket case" Rusty make sense out of any of it?
The AASI-E community is fairly small and so was the event. 16 people split half between Randy and fellow demo teamer and local resident KC Gandee meant that Rusty's group of level 2s was 8 strong. Holly Anderson had made the dev team and was shadowing Randy. Famous author Chickie Rosenberg (Killington) was there on and off. Rounding out the group were Amine, Carl, Dave, Rob, Alison and Rusty. (Let's see ... Alison Ford and Rusty were from Whitetail, I think Carl Dave and Rob were from Liberty and Amine was from??)
The first question was about "chatter" on turns. Randy talked about how stance affected longitudinal pressure on the board. A common stance is with the shoulders "open" to the nose of the board (i.e. turned towards the direction of travel as opposed to aligned with the board. With this stance, there is slightly more pressure on the front foot than the back foot. For reasons Rusty still does not understand, this helps toe side turns but causes chatter on heel side turns.
Next Randy challenged us to compare knee height off the snow on short radius versus long radius toe side turns. Some of us found it easier to get our knees low on long radius turns. Some of us used the power of the short radius turn to get down low. Little did we know that this was a test that would be covered later.
A "scarve" is an edge initiated controlled and finished turn with a controlled skid. There is no rotary move to initiate the turn. We scarved a lot that weekend.
Finally some bumps! Randy advised us to turn on the flat spots of the bumps (i.e. the uphill face). Finally Rusty was beginning to make sense of the flat board advise that Alison likes. The idea was to get the board flat on the flat face, then scarve around the back side and approach the next bump from the side. This still let Rusty make "snaky" turns through the bumps that controlled speed and minimized sudden impacts. Another aspect was to try to get the board to use flat surfaces to ride around the bumps like a race car around a banked track.
After lunch we tried "opposite camber" or weighting the back foot to start the turn. Randy started a new theme: "No turning" (i.e. let the board carve - no rotary/steering input). Randy's master plan was now becoming evident: introduce exercises that show that once the weight is over the edge of the board, there are many possible movements that can be utilized effectively to make the board turn and do other useful things. Rusty has played with a variation of this exercise where you start a new turn by over finishing the previous one (e.g. kick out the back foot). This cuts off the upper body and forces it to cross over the board into the new turn. Here we just did the same thing, but only by weighting the tail instead of kicking it out. It's similar, but not the same as generating twist.
Randy finished the day fulfilling a show off demo request. The task was to do a buttered nose air to buttered tail turn. If Rusty got this right, Randy buttered a nose roll, then hopped onto his tail and buttered that. The center of the board never touched the snow. The trail conditions kind of aborted the demo, but the concept was visible. Rusty is filing this one under stupid pet tricks.
Saturday, apres ride, KC and Randy and a few of the hardier riders hoisted a few upstairs in the Long Trail pub.
Sunday morning started out with Gondy runs and more scarving. Then we started doing more bumps. Randy said that stiff legs generate speed by putting energy into the snow and having it returned to the board. The idea was to control speed by absorbing energy by flexing the legs. If we would start are turns tall and flex to absorb the terrain to initiate the turn, we'd be able to maintain board to snow contact and scarve our way around the bumps.
After practicing a bit, we had Holly video us plain scarving and in the bumps. Sorry Holly - you need more practice as a videographer. Keep the victim 1/2 to 2/3 the size of the viewfinder. Randy's video analysis of Rusty was that my heel side turns were more "sequential" as opposed to my toes side turns being "two footed". The advice was to get on the heel side edges earlier in the turn and smooth the movements out. Listening in on commentary for the other group members was also a great help to improve our own movement analysis skills.
In the afternoon, we started a series of exercises to prove that different things can be done from starting with the weight over the edge. The first was hop turns: Ollie at the finish of one turn, turn in the air and then land on the new edge to start the new turn. Next we practiced hands on the hips to push the hips over the edge of the board. Randy noted that hands on the head was a good exercise to stop bending at the waist. Next he asked us what does the femur do when you lower your hips during a toe side turn. The answer is it turns clockwise (for normal footers - i.e. helps the turn) and moves forward. We finished up with an exercise to work the knees and ankles more and the hips less (but Rusty's notes on this were bad).
Well that's it. I knew these notes were going to be lame. They really don't do justice to the amount of information transferred and the improvements Randy made in our riding. We had a great 2 days. Riding with demo team members is always a pumped up experience. It's really cool to watch some really smooth riding and really great coaching. We all had a ton of fun and took home a little more of both to spread around at our home mountains. And that's what it's all about.