1998 SNOWBOARD ACADEMY NOTES
Editors note: There are still some pieces missing from these notes. If you've got corrections or additions, please send email.
The first AASI (pronounced "ozzy")-Eastern Snowboard Academy at Stratton Mountain in Vermont from 12/7 - 12/11 was awesome. This event was split off from the traditional alpine Instructor Training Clinic at nearby Mount Snow in order to expand the number of snowboard participants (at 450 people, there was no room for more than 2-3 groups of snowboarders). This year, despite poor snow conditions, there were 40 participants split among (5-7?) groups. Different groups focused on level one certification, levels 2 and 3 prep and just plain fun.
Brian Spear and Neville were the co conspirators. Travis from Sun Valley was the on site demo team guy. Roger Kehr was also onsite with his "Split Screen Analysis" system (the same computerized video analysis that Rusty uses for skiing). Volkl and the Hayes Brothers were there with demo equipment. Examiners leading the groups included: Terry Duffield, Tom and (?). Volkl and ? reps also showed up.
For those of you who canceled due to unfavorable conditions: tsk tsk. A good omen on the first day was a double rainbow (with one end on Bromley). The rain on the first day was only a brief sprinkle. Despite limited terrain (only Tamarack, North American and Spruce were open on the upper half of the mountain) and poor weather the first two days, things worked out beautifully. Despite the rocks, base damage was generally minimal (although one of our group did blow out an edge). The fresh man made snow on Thursday and Friday was as good as it gets. Due to the conditions at Mount (lack of) Snow, we did get to share our slopes with our some of our less fortunate ITC brethren during the week. The lack of a banquet was really good fortune. Rumor has it that over 60 people got food poisoning. Maybe that's why there were so few two plankers on Friday?
This event focused on presenting the new snowboard teaching concepts being introduced this year. The event staff made it easy for participants to thoroughly get acquainted and understand the new approach. It's a lot simpler than the PSIA model and it's going to work great.
Here are some notes that Rusty took in his level 2 prep group.
Our group was composed of Larry (Hidden Valley, NJ), Nick (NJ), Deb (Paw-whowhat?, NY), John, Mark, and TR (all from Ski Liberty, PA), George (Sunday River, ME), Karl (?) and Rusty (Whitetail, PA). One of our tasks was to learn something personal about each group member. Larry is a splicer for Bell Atlantic. Nick is the president of a local ski club. Deb cuts hair for her day job. John is a biologist? Mark is Mr. Vespa. TR has a lot of jewelry in unusual places. George knows physics and is often witness to calamaties. Speaking of which, Karl did not have a place to stay but did not need one because he fell on some rocks and broke a couple ribs on day 1 - so sorry. Terry, our fearless leader, used to race on snowboards has a cute girlfriend Shana (a snowboard supervisor? at Mount Snow) who shadowed for a bit, shared some stretches with us and smiled a lot. Jim, an examiner to be, also shadowed our group on Friday.
Day 1 - Warm up and movement and performance concepts
Warm up runs - boy did we need them. 3 runs were all that were open. They were advanced trails made more advanced by bare spots. This was steeper terrain than we would be expected to ride for the exam, but we made do alright. The focus was on doing different things vs doing exercises. The four turning movements focused on during day 1 were: flex and extend during the turn, delaying the back foot movement to torque the board, simultaneous foot movements to tip the board and fore/aft movements to achieve the basic carved turn. Terry started working on eliminating upper body rotation used to initiate our turns.
Indoors we talked about models. The Y model (or Champagne glass) describes the different types of riding. On the stem we have basic turns and dynamic turns. For basic turns, the center of mass travels the same path as the board. For dynamic turns the rider's center of mass travels "inside" the path of the board. At the bottom of the glass we have 180's, switch and carving. 180's represent the left or "rotary movement" branch of the sport. 180's can be done on the ground or in the air. Switch riding is looking where you are going when riding backwards (as opposed to fakie - which is riding backwards without looking!). This represents a mix of rotary and flex/extend skills. Carving is defined by having the nose and tail of the snowboard travel through the same path (as opposed to a skidded turn). Carving represents the flex/extend branch of the sport. At the top level of the glass, from left to right (representing the transition from rotary to flex/extend movements) we have half pipe and park riding, combination 180s, dynamic switch, backcountry/steeps/bumps/trees, dynamic carving and gates/groomed runs.
We started our talks about the teaching model with "what, how and why". "What" is the performance concepts (i.e. what the snowboard can do. It can tip, twist, pivot or flex longitudinally. "How" is the movement concepts (i.e. what the body does to get the board to perform. Movements are either rotary movements (upper and/ or lower body rotation) or flexion/extension movements involving the ankle, knee and/or hip joints. "Why" is movement analysis.
Some miscellaneous things we talked about were focusing rotary movement "around" the front foot, learning turning more by edging (flex/extend) than by rotary, using a basic teaching progression involving garlands instead of J turns and movement analysis by focusing on the front foot and using a 0-5 scale to describe performance and movements in specific phases of the turn (preparation, initiation, controlling and completion).