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Truth in Ice: Timing Edge Rise/Fall

Second in a multi-part series on skiing/snowboarding on hard snow.

Speed control while carving is a combination of selective friction and turn shape. Removing a little more snow from the trench consumes energy through work, while extending (hooking) the end of each turn slightly uphill consumes momentum.

Given how difficult it is to displace ice, most speed control on ice will have to be done with turn shape. Turn shape can be a challenge if the edge won’t hold. Tuning aside, edge hold can be improved through timing, application, and load distribution.

Through each turn the edge of your platform exerts a specific load on the surface. The magnitude of that load is based on glide rate and turn radius. Hard snow is not forgiving of input mistakes or load spikes, so it helps to distribute the load evenly over a greater area. Using more real estate for edge rise/fall, (and by association direction change) can reduce the tendency for the working edge to break free, and also give you a little more time to do the job.

Aim for your platform to reach it’s highest tilt angle when it’s parallel to or just past the fall line. Beyond this area, gravitational pull has been too long aligned with your momentum, and you’re entering a place where the slope angle falls away from your edge. There’s more load generated, and less surface to support that load.

The immediate goal then, is to start each turn earlier with regard to the fall line of the hill. This doesn’t mean the old turn need be chopped or truncated via skid or pivot. This means that your board goes flat between turns when the nose of the board is pointed slightly uphill, not downhill. This is essentially the same thing as ending your previous turn later.

Point being, if you exit one turn with the board gliding slightly uphill, you will have bought valuable real estate (thus, time) for the start of the next turn.

However much body mass you move to the inside of each turn, you will have to get that mass moving outward from the ‘old’ turn sooner, in order to enter the ‘new’ turn earlier. Whatever you moved to the inside of the old turn shouldn’t get stuck there, stalling the flow from edge to edge, generating abrupt movements and load spikes. This is particularly important if your dominant mode of edge change is classed as ‘cross over’.

Keep in mind that your center of mass itself doesn’t have to hook up the hill along with your platform. Let the platform track uphill while you begin to ‘fall’ into the as-yet unborn arc of the new turn.

This might seem like a tall order, until you realize that your momentum can pull you out of a turn faster than you can extract yourself.

When the rider/board/snow system is in balance, your mass is accelerated toward the center of the arc described on the snow. If you affect that balance by (in this case) reducing your edge angle, and thus the turn radius, your body mass will move outward from that arc.

If you want to exit the turn you’re in, simply stop doing whatever it is you’re doing that maintains your edge angle/ stable arc radius.

I tend to think of this as some manner of ‘letting go’ with my feet.

One of the side benefits of this separation (feet go one way, head goes the other) is that when your head follows a different/shorter path than your feet, it doesn’t feel like you’re moving as fast, and that’s a mental breather.

Given that skis and snowboards glide a lot faster on hard snow than they do on soft snow, any opportunity to perceive a slowing of time should be grabbed without hesitation.

When you feel less rushed, you have a better chance of making accurate movements, and a better chance of consistent success.

Next: Mechanism of edge rise/fall.

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