By: Ryan Centioli
Progression as a rider is everything, you want to go higher, go faster, have more style, learn more tricks, and simply continue to improve.
One part of progression that is often not talked about is how to get more comfortable tackling steeper parts of the mountain.
Whether it's backcountry, moguls, a treeline, or simply a steep face on your favorite mountain there are a few simple tips that with a little practice, can drastically improve your comfort on steels and riding all together!
1. Get your weight over the front foot
You were probably told this when you were learning to turn heel and toe side. On steeps though, it become very very important. When riding on steeps it is more difficult to make turns because you cannot shift edges with the board remaining flat on the mountain. Keeping your weight over the front foot allows your rear foot become elevated, easier, when making a turn. Effectively clearing the now drastically steeper portion of the mountain behind you.
2. Make longer "passes"
A "pass" is the duration of time you remain on one edge before turning back the other way. When on steeps, making longer passes allows you to cover more vertical feet, making fewer turns. While longer passes are not the most fun way to tackle steeps, it's very effective in getting you more comfortable on steeps.
3. Master the "hop turn"
The "hop turn" is a great way to quickly change direction and once mastered, can be used all over the mountain. To make a hop turn simply take an edge and head down the mountain at whatever angle you are comfortable with. As you approach the point you want to turn back the other way, put your weight over the front foot, hop, change the direction of your board, (heel to toe, toe to heel), and land with your weight over your front foot. Using the hop turn allows you to freely turn on any grade of steepness without having to compensate for the changing degree of steepness.
If you can manage those three things, you can ride almost any part of your favorite mountain. Of course, use caution, practice, and know your limits.
Bonus tip!Riding steeps takes a toll on your back and legs, be sure you are putting your gym time in on the days you are not riding. It will make a world of difference.