Freeriding is more popular than ever before. From putting down your first turns just off the piste to full-on backcountry touring, equipment has progressed to the point where even beginner snowboarders can enjoy the pursuit of powder.
If you’re looking to incorporate some freeriding into your holiday then you have plenty of destinations to choose from. One interesting option is Jasna, in Slovakia, which boasts 12 off-piste ‘freeride zones’, all accessible via lift. This year, Jasna also hosted a stop on the Freeride World Qualifier Tour (27th Feb – 2nd March 2015), which in future years would make it a great choice if you want to combine your own powder riding with watching some of the best in the world.
Jasna is located in Liptov – the most popular area for snowsports in Slovakia – and was recently awarded five prestigious quality awards by the International Ski Area Test as well as ‘Best Upcoming Resort’ at the World Snow Awards. It offers 46 km of slopes and its modern snow-making system means that snow is guaranteed for five months every year.
Freeriding – as the name implies – is about being free: it’s about being creative and finding your own unique riding style. If you try too hard to look a certain way or carry your old technique over from the piste then you’ll struggle. Instead, start exploring what feels right whilst dipping on and off the marked runs – you’re aiming to get the board floating above the snow without leaning all the way back.
The key is to go fast enough – “speed is your friend” as they say. You need to find an open powder field with a similar gradient to a red run, then commit to the fall line (in other words, go fairly straight!) so that you can still initiate the turn through your front leg as you would on the hard pack, feeling the snow push back at you. Then, as you move towards the end of the turn, start shifting your weight towards the back of your board to keep the nose above the snow.
To add a little flair, you can start kicking out your back leg to get what’s known as a ‘rooster tail’ behind you, essentially a large cloud of snow. Even better, try to get your board completely sideways for a split second, which will send piles of snow upwards and completely envelop you. This is the fabled ‘face shot’, and as soon as you’ve had one you’ll be hooked!
Aside from reading tips like these, though, the best way to get better at riding powder is just to go out there and get stuck in! So why not book a stay in Jasna to sample some Slovakian freshies?
This article was sponsored by the Jasna Tourist Board.