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Learning to Jump: The Comprehensive Guide to Throwing Like a Champ

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  • Learning to Jump: The Comprehensive Guide to Throwing Like a Champ

    Okay, I'm sure many if not most of you are in the park already. I'm sure you're getting comfortable in the air and I'm sure you're having a great time. But there's probably one thing that you really need to work on and you most likely aren't doing it right. Now, don't take this as an insult but, most people I see, teach, and have taught don't do this correctly. Hell, I didn't even do or teach this correctly until this year. By the way, I am a 3rd year ski(board) instructor this year at the best park in Ohio, Mad River Mountain. Hit me up if you're near, we'll work on some things and stuff.

    A little bit of background about me:
    My name is Dennis Evans, some people know me as godofmedia, gommers, or gom I've been skiboarding since 2008, have been on short sticks since 2007, and just this year got set up in non-release bindings, making me understand why purists are so stuck on keeping the boards short and the boots in. I've been teaching skiing and skiboarding for 3 seasons, 2 at BMBW in Peninsula, Ohio and this is my first year at Mad River.
    I used to be a highly contributing member to this community to the point of annoyance, I'd imagine. My allegiance to this sport has always, and will always come before any other sport. So I wanted to drop by and give you some tips that I picked up this past week in regards to learning how to jump the right way.

    The best way to do this would be to start from scratch, from zero, from nada - what I'm trying to say is "never ever even seen a park".
    Step 1: Scout it Out- Your first time in the park will be terrifying and you'll likely take one of two routes.
    • Route 1: Ride through the park between all the jibs, jumps, and jackasses on their snowboards waiting their turn. You won't do this once, you won't do this twice, you probably won't even do this 3 times; in fact you'll probably do it so many times the first time you decide you want to work in the park that you'll psych yourself out. That's fine, fear at the beginning is natural, completely rational, and justified. In all honesty you should have some fear. But not to the point that you take 5, 6, 7, or more runs through the park and decide you'll "get it next time."
    • Route 2: Just hit the first jump you see the first time you see it. This needs no explanation beyond as we all know how it's likely to turn out.

    If you're going to take one of these routes stated above, route 1 would be the safer of the two; that said, don't do either of these things to the extreme described. what you really want to do is this: Find the lift closest to the park and ride up. While you're riding up what you'll need to do is pay attention, you needn't focus on the people, in fact out right ignore them; Turn on your music, up the volume, and focus all of your attention on the features. Look at how everything is laid out, look at how much space is between everything, look at the size of the features, and pay close attention to how you think you'll need to hit everything. When you unload from the lift ride down to the entrance of the park, and this is EXTREMELY important, STOP now look down at the same thing you did on the way up. Find your prospective line, scope it, move from one side of the top of the park to the other side; see the line from every angle you can. Do this for a while, yes, you will get mocked if you're on boards and just standing around looking.

    ---Etiquette break---
    All you need to say is, "It's my first day in the park" and people will usually be pretty nice to you. I've found that, even if you're not really interested in what they have to say, if you're somewhat pleasant people will be polite back to you and even offer advice. Basically, just get to know people, don't think that just because they're on a board or on skis that they don't care about you, nobody wants to see anyone else get hurt if the person isn't a genuine asshole. If someone gives you crap, just roll with it, they're just having fun, throw it right back in their face in jest.
    ---/Etiquette break---

    If people start complaining about you standing around too much, just tell them to go. No biggie. One more thing you should do at this point is watch people hitting the features you want to hit. Pay close attention to how you think they are doing on them. At this point you aren't trying to analyse why they aren't doing well or not, you're just trying to see their skill on the jumps. Anyway, you've scouted your line on the way up, and from the top, now comes scouting step 3: scout it on the way down. At this point it's not really that important to focus on the features, you do pay attention to them but don't focus on them. What is important in this step is focusing on your speed, notice how the snow feels [is it soft or hard/ is it fast or slow/ is it powder or slush] all of these things will factor into how you approach your line. Okay great, now you've scouted the park get back on the lift.

    Step 2: Practice the Pop- So now you're back on the lift, you have one more chance to pay attention to how people are hitting your line, watch their speed vs how fast you thought you were going, pay attention to how people are falling actually I'm going to emphasize this pay attention to how people are falling. You'll see park veterans take some pretty nasty spills, get up, and ride off like nothing happened at all; these are the guys you need to get to know, if not on a personal level, at least recognize them. They don't hurt themselves and they know exactly why (for the most part). Great! Now you're back at the top of the hill; I bet you're thinking "Okay lets get back in the park" NO get away from that thought right now, we're not there yet. What you need to do is find a run with a similar grade to that of the run the park. Stop at the top of the run and hop a couple times. Get used to the feeling of hopping what it feels like when you leave the ground, the weight of the boards, the amount of time you're in the air, what it feels like to drop back to earth, and what it feels like to hit the ground and land. At this point, head down hill, hop a couple times on the downhill and stop. Do this all the way down the run. Do this for at least a couple runs, keep doing it until you feel comfortable. Okay that's enough pregame, head back to the park.

    Step 3: Focus Pocus-This is something that will come naturally after you've been in the park long enough. I immerse myself in music, close my eyes, shut everything out, I fall into an almost trance like meditative state where I clearly visualize what I want to do. I just keep focusing, focusing, and focusing. In addition to visualization, I attempt to get exact calculations of exactly what it will feel like before, during, and after the jump. Obviously you won't be able to do this until you have some experience in the park.
    As a beginner in the park what you should be focusing on is this:
    Feel of the snow, speed of the snow, size of the jump (anything bigger than a 5 footer is too big for your first time unless you have no other option), focus on what you think you should be doing, and finally focus on what I'm telling you in this thread. Drown out the fear, ignore it, it's dangerous; the more fear you have the more likely are to do something stupid that you're not able to recover from.

    ---Approach with the Most---
    Now you've spent a significant amount of time getting ready, it's time to try to hit it for the first time. What you need to realize is that you approach everything on your boards in the exact same way, you always keep a comfortable forward pressure in your boots, ALWAYS.
    ---/Approach with the Most---

    Step 4: Hit it Big-When you're headed up the jump the first time focus on one thing, speed. I can honestly say that if you feel like you're going the right speed you've probably already scrubbed your speed twice too many times. You'll realize this when you barely roll over the top of the jump the first time, and the second time, and the third time. This is something, even though I've said it here, that won't click immediately. Some get it faster than others, but it still takes some time. Eventually you'll get used to feeling slightly out of control when hitting jumps. It will take you some time if you ride alone to realize how you actually feel, you'll think you have it but you really won't understand it at all.
    For a few days out all I would suggest is to let the jumps kick you. Just ride up, and let it throw you as far as it will and as far as you're comfortable. Once you're comfortable with that, start working on popping, something you should be warming up with before you hit the park everyday you do a park day. Once again, it will take some time to figure out exactly where you should be popping from rather than just letting the jump kick you. Eventually you'll have that down, but honestly, you'll probably be on much bigger jumps with much more speed than when you started with much better spacial awareness and intelligence.

    ---Ending notes---
    I've really found this winter to be great for perfecting jump skills, in the midwest it's been pretty warm with pretty slushy and soft snow, this forces you to learn how to pop if you want to clear the knuckle of most jumps. I've been diligently working on understanding why, prior to this season, I've been so uncomfortable with larger jumps. I always used to think it had to do with the amount of speed involved and the height x distance, basically I was scared of everything about bigger jumps. It turns out that I have not been popping right until about two weeks ago, I've been throwing 360s and sketch 540s for 2 seasons now but it always terrified me even when I was landing solid. At this point I'm not going any bigger with the spins but I've moved up from 10 and 15 footers to a 25 footer being the location of my biggest 3.

    There are some things I can't tell you to do, tell you how to do, or tell you when to do; you'll just need to get a feel for it and keep working at it. I've been on boards since 08 and I'm just now comfortable on jumps over 40 feet.

    I will be going for my freestyle skiing certification next year assuming I am still teaching, I will be doing it on my skiboards, and if they fail me on "inadequate" equipment, much $4!+ will go down over it.

    Keep shredding my extended skiboarding family, this has been your yearly lesson with Dennis Evans, feel free to PM me with any specific questions or even better just ask them here.

    Peace out.
    Revel8 ALPdors
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    Be who you are, it makes you charismatic...
    If life's not beautiful without the pain, well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again.

  • #2
    great post evans. couldnt have said it better myself


    • #3
      Awesome post. I've been trying to work my way into the park lately, but haven't worked up the guts to do it. This will definitely help.


      • #4
        Thanks for this!

        Always looking for more to learn from - this the only yearly lesson?? - more, more!


        • #5
          That was great, and when it was my first rime on the park with snowblades i met a guy about my age with snowblades and he helped me with jumps and such but one thing that he told me that was very important was not to lean back when your landing and i followed that til this point and i have never had a problem. And i still get sketched out when i hit big jumps and i land perfect.