One of these years, I’m going to write my winter recap before summer nears. Once again, it’s almost summer, and I’m just getting around to putting the 2016/2017 winter to bed with a recap.
Despite the lack of snow this year, it was an incredible season for me. Each year, I start with a set of goals, like improving my switch carving or getting better at moguls. And each season, it seems like I check a few off the list and unexpectedly develop some other skills that I hadn’t even thought possible.
So what happened this season?
- Improved switch riding: I’m almost as comfortable on my switch edge as I am my normal edge, even at higher speeds. Overall, this just seems to give me better balance and better dexterity on moguls. I had a huge breakthrough on moguls that I think is due to switch riding. As I negotiated the moguls in Colorado in March, I found myself shifting my weight on my regular edge in ways that felt inspired by my switch edge. It’s hard to describe, but basically I feel like I’m using the familiarity and coordination of certain muscles/manuevers on my regular edge, which really come from my switch riding. It’s almost like I’m about to go switch without actually doing it and just using the movement for a second to shed some speed or make a slight navigational change.
- Improved switch riding (part 2): I can now put my back hand down on the snow while doing switch carves.
- Ollies and jumps: For the past years, I’ve really wanted to get some freestyle basics down, like hitting jumps, taking an air or doing a grab, and landing successfully. I’m still not there since most of my time is spent focusing on carving, but when the conditions aren’t great for carving, I’ve used the time to pop off different features. Learning to ollie better into my jumps has given me a lot more stability in the air. The freestyle highlight of my season was when I found a rolling bump on a steep run at Caberfae. I was riding down with some friends from work when I spotted it and veered over. I popped at the apex and took what felt like a long, yawning air before sticking the landing. I was shocked by how much air time I got and so was my colleague. I tried to find the roller again, but couldn’t find the exact line that I had taken.
- Butters!: I never thought I would be able to start doing butters, but on the last day of the year, with soft slushy-ish snow on the ground, the conditions seemed forgiving and ripe for learning. I started to throw my tip and tail around and began to feel the motions of butters, a la Ryan Knapton (see clip below). I took a few awkward falls and I’m probably throwing my weight more than I need to, but I have a bud of confidence now that will allow me to build on butters next year. Switch riding is huge for butters. It basically gets to the point where you have no idea which edge your on, because you’ve flipped so much, but your legs feel natural because they know how to carve both edges. Without my switch riding, I wouldn’t be able to butter this way at all.
Disclaimer: I am no where near to this level, but I can press my tip and tail now to flip to my other edge.
Although my western trips were busts for snow, I had a great trip with my friend Jennifer and her pals, Dominic and Melanie. The highlight of the trip was actually hanging around Jennifer’s parent’s house and sitting out a bad weather day. We sat around the kitchen table, chatted, and played games. It was a fun time.
And we had one great final day riding together. I had to run to catch a plane, but we decided to wake up early and hit the hill together. It was so much fun to ride down with everyone and watch them make their turns. I love seeing other people ride and carve.
I’m still in awe and humbled by each season I get on the slopes. Each year, brings new progress and often in surprising ways. I never get bored. I never know what to expect. I just know that I’m going to get better and push myself further. And, as always, I get to spend hour upon hours, being outside in the comfy cold, sometimes at night, watching the snow fall on a slow chairlift, before popping off and carving down what always feels like a new, unexplored path.
Next Season Goals
- More butter on my bread: I’m going to work on higher speed and harder snow butters. I’ll probably take some snappy falls, so I need to go to the gym and work on my neck and shoulder muscles. It’ll take some time before I get the coordination and muscle memory to avoid catching my edge while buttering. :\
- Revert Carve (see video below): I gotta learn it. It looks like too much fun. I have a trick in mind that I can build off this one. I haven’t seen anyone do it, so I’m wondering if it’s possible or maybe just not imagined yet.
- More switch please: I want to be able to grab the snow with both hands while carving switch.
I don’t take many photos while I’m snowboarding, but here’s some shots from the season:
See you next year! :) I can’t wait.