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How do you learn to catch a little air?

#1
Not something I’m planning to work on this season, but how do you start to get comfortable catching some air? I have no desire to do park jumps, rails, boxes, etc., but I’d like to feel okay with the occasional mandatory air on a mountain if I were to come across it. I was at MRG recently, and there was a spot under a chairlift where there was a mandatory drop these kids were navigating. It was actually quite large looking to me, and I made darn sure not to go on that trail because I don’t know what I would have done if I came across it, though i think there may have been a go around in the trees.. Anyway, in my overall quest to be able to go confidently anywhere on a mountain, without necessarily knowing said mountain really well, I think being able to handle a little bit of air would be a good skill to have in the toolbox.

Anyone have any experience learning this? My first thought is that some sort of park clinic would probably be the easiest thing to find, as long as I wouldn’t need to ride fixed objects like boxes and rails because I have terrible images of falling on those things and breaking a bone or my teeth..

Thoughts?
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Check out your mountain's "progression park," which will (or should) have some small jumps with well-designed landing areas. Those will help you practice for the kind of natural backcountry terrain you want to master.

A park-specific lesson or clinic would be a great idea. I'm NO park rat, but in my experience, learning to "pop" correctly and at the right time was the key to safe jumping. But I stay on teeny-tiny bumps because I'm still working on my basic skiing form. To me jumping and skiing complement each other, and I go into progression parks all the time, because hitting jumps demands good form and technique, and you get instant feedback if you're being sloppy. It's all just skiing, imho.

Check out Jen's Stomp It Tutorials as well for some things you can practice:

 
#3
Check out your mountain's "progression park," which will (or should) have some small jumps with well-designed landing areas. Those will help you practice for the kind of natural backcountry terrain you want to master.

A park-specific lesson or clinic would be a great idea. I'm NO park rat, but in my experience, learning to "pop" correctly and at the right time was the key to safe jumping. But I stay on teeny-tiny bumps because I'm still working on my basic skiing form. To me jumping and skiing complement each other, and I go into progression parks all the time, because hitting jumps demands good form and technique, and you get instant feedback if you're being sloppy. It's all just skiing, imho.

Check out Jen's Stomp It Tutorials as well for some things you can practice:

Thank you! Sunday River does have a little progression park, I’ll have to play around in there next season.
 

socalgal

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
I'll highly recommend both progression parks and Stomp It tutorials on YouTube. The videos are well made, accessible, and loaded with good information.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
When you find something that is low consequence, drop into it, and lap it using different angles for the entry each time so you get a sense of what does and doesn't work. The challenge is probably finding that low consequence feature in the first place.
 
#7
When you find something that is low consequence, drop into it, and lap it using different angles for the entry each time so you get a sense of what does and doesn't work. The challenge is probably finding that low consequence feature in the first place.
Yeah, my concern is obviously landing wrong and hurting your back etc. Places I spot like this on mountain are usually a bit bigger than I’d want to go try on my own to start. How much do I need to spring up or out, what should my position be in the air, where do I want to land..? I have no clue.

I tend to not be good intuitively at leaving the ground. I think back to gymnastics team as a high school freshman where by friend convinced me to try an unaided front tuck off of the balance beam for the first time after she made it look really easy.. and how I somehow landed with my knee in my eye socket. Lol. Apparently I didn’t spring up in my take off like I was supposed to, whoops.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
Anyone have any experience learning this? My first thought is that some sort of park clinic would probably be the easiest thing to find, as long as I wouldn’t need to ride fixed objects like boxes and rails because I have terrible images of falling on those things and breaking a bone or my teeth..
Most terrain parks for beginners include a few "jumps" that are just snow, not a box or rail. I used to use those but mostly to practice dealing with bumpy traverses. So the goal was to absorb and extend at increasing speeds so that I didn't get any air. Since I'm ACL-deficient at this point, I keep my skis on the snow. I know what you're talking about in terms of mandatory air at MRG though.

I tend to not be good intuitively at leaving the ground. I think back to gymnastics team as a high school freshman where by friend convinced me to try an unaided front tuck off of the balance beam for the first time after she made it look really easy.. and how I somehow landed with my knee in my eye socket. Lol. Apparently I didn’t spring up in my take off like I was supposed to, whoops.
Know exactly what you mean. When I did gymnastics as a PE class in college, I could never get a no-hands cartwheel (or whatever that's called) to feel natural even though I had plenty of height.

During the Taos Ski Week I did in January, our instructor found a few spots where it was possible to catch air for those who were interested. The ones I remember were off the edge of a groomer that was essentially a drop in between two groomers.
 
#9
Most terrain parks for beginners include a few "jumps" that are just snow, not a box or rail. I used to use those but mostly to practice dealing with bumpy traverses. So the goal was to absorb and extend at increasing speeds so that I didn't get any air. Since I'm ACL-deficient at this point, I keep my skis on the snow. I know what you're talking about in terms of mandatory air at MRG though.


Know exactly what you mean. When I did gymnastics as a PE class in college, I could never get a no-hands cartwheel (or whatever that's called) to feel natural even though I had plenty of height.

During the Taos Ski Week I did in January, our instructor found a few spots where it was possible to catch air for those who were interested. The ones I remember were off the edge of a groomer that was essentially a drop in between two groomers.
I really need to do a ski week.. we’ll see if it’ll be possible next season! It’s so tempting with the Ikon of course, just hard to take so many days off on top of diva east and west in such a short span of time. I technically have unlimited vacation days, but I don’t like to take advantage of this perk either.. we’ll see how things line up.

If MRG had more reliable conditions, I’d really love to spend a season there skiing and doing lessons, I imagine it would really do wonders for my developing tactics in more technical terrain to be exposed to their mountain and instructors a good amount. Maybe one year in the future..
 

racetiger

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
I love catching air - when its planned. I dont have mountains here in the midwest so I go in the park. I started out by just jumping the little bumps that form on the sides of groomed runs. Then went into the progression park to go for those small jumps. This season Ive been working on technique while going on progressively bigger jumps. Staying composed in the air. Popping at the right time. Forward shin pressure .
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
A few years ago I made my goal to learn to catch some air so that I could ski more of the mountain. My thought process was similar to yours in that if I got better at air in a controlled manner than when I would inevitably catch air unexpectedly I would better be able to deal with it. I started with the green terrain parks, yoiu can usually scope them from the lift and then choose your jumps. Start with the roller jumps, then go to the ones that have a platform/flat at the top that you need to clear. Sometimes as an adult sized person it can be tricky to not catch too much air, so you can learn to absorb energy to decrease the size of the air or pop to give yourself more. Then you can try some small gaps. Going up the ramps to the rails/boxes at an angle and then landing on the trail to the side can be beneficial too.

After that, its finding fun rolling features you can play on, usually on the sides of trails (make sure you have good visibility so yiou don't cut people off or jump out in front of people). The sides of mogul runs too, where half the trail is mogul and half groomed, you can pop off the moguls and land on the groom etc.

Landings at first will be tricky, too far backseat you'll mess up your toes and too far forward and you'll overbalance. The more you do it the more confident you will get so I recommend just finding things to jump off of. I still can't really get over something thats past 5 feet, even something smaller with a downhill landing is scary, but I try and find a few things to jump off of every time I ski because it makes skiing feel so much more playful.
 

SqueakySnow

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
Another critical skill for a smooth landing... the most important part any jump, in my opinion. Master the shiftie!

 

Serafina

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
I took a private lesson for this exact purpose. It was a most valuable investment. I still don't huck or hit the features, but I'm comfortable separating from the surface on the backside of a roller when I hit it with some speed, and I actively seek out little bumps and stuff to launch on (in a very small way).
 

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