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Backcountry Basics

Tips for Landing In Powder | Whitelines Basics

Jumping off stuff in powder is amazing fun because it’s so soft. Landing in powder though can be harder. Here’s how…

From Whitelines Basics 2013

1.  Powder landings can be tough to judge.

Without getting all British Rail about this: snow does come in all forms, shapes and sizes, so saying ‘powder’ landings is a bit of a misnomer. Few landings are the same, and powder can be super soft or ‘dust on crust’ (i.e. one centimetre thick fresh snow on top of ice).  Assessing the conditions is therefore your first challenge. That said, if you’ve got ‘good’, soft snow, then here’s how to land your board in it.

2.  Remember to keep your board straight.

If you throw a 360 off a kicker in the park, you can get the spin wrong by about 30% and still manage to ‘pull’ the trick. This is because you can set an edge down and simply slide the remaining degrees around until your board is facing downhill. Powder isn’t quite so forgiving. Whatever you do in the backcountry: try and land with your board facing exactly the way in which you’re travelling.

3.  Be in control.

Deep snow throws you about a bit. It’s bumpy, there are unpredictable lumps underneath, and sometimes what looks like nice powder turns out to be bullet-proof ice. But all that said, you should still feel like you’re in control of your board. You’re the boss, not the snow. Remember that. Being confident is key to powering through powder landings.

4.  Stomp.

What the hell does ‘stomp’ actually mean? Well put simply, instead of bending your knees – as you would say if you jumped off your garage roof – you make the snow do all the work. So as you come towards the ground, push your legs into the snow and basically stand tall – don’t compress. In short: stomping means pushing the snow into itself, and it’s this compression which creates the cushioning of your jump.

5. It sounds so simple.

And in reality, it is, but the problem comes in that ‘stomping’ a powder landing is extremely counter-intuitive. Your mind and body will be screaming ‘compress’ (bend the knees) while you’ve got to over come those voices and simply push your feet into the ground. Timing is everything though; you’re pushing //through// the landing, not locking your legs before impact!

6. Weight back.

When turning in deep snow we’ve tried to emphasise that you don’t need to lean back awkwardly, just take plenty of speed apply pressure through the rear foot.  Landing a big trick or drop in powder is a bit of an exception. It’s essential that you don’t let the nose go under or you will ragdoll (cartwheel) down the slope, so many riders will try to land tail heavy and power their nose through the resultant explosion before re-centering their weight on the run-out.

7. Don’t sit down.

OK, we’re giving you license to land a bit tail heavy, but don’t make the classic mistake of sitting down on the landing – you’ll only come to a complete stop if you do. You’ve got to absorb the impact with your leg muscles, stay confident and commit!

8.  Keep your board straight (again!)

We can’t stress enough how much you need to keep the board pointing down the fall line. And as you leave the landing area at high speed (generally speaking, you pick up speed in the air at a phenomenal rate), remember to point it straight and get fully back in control before slowly releasing speed by throwing a long turn.

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