By: RIDGE Ski Coach David Steele
For skiers and snowboarders who have mastered the basics, jumping, jibbing, and flying off the ground offer an exciting way to expand on their skills and have more fun. Plus, you get to look cool. Like any other part of the skiing or boarding experience, freestyle or freeride moves are a series of steps or progressions that start small. Much like you’d ski greens before blues or blues before blacks, the moves work their way towards the more difficult and challenging.
RIDGE coaches and students work off a series of freestyle progressions and levels that give clarity to the murky questions of “What am I ready for? What should I try today?” but the basics are fairly simple:
-We move from small to large. Jumps, rails, airtime, spins--the safest way to move up is the get comfortable at one level and to increase the complexity of maneuvers and air time incrementally. Keep adding, and suddenly a student has moved from ten foot long jumps to thirty foot long gaps safely, hitting a number of smaller levels in between.
-Freestyle and freeride moves are part of a bigger skill set of skiing and riding abilities. Athletes that are stronger in their all mountain skiing tend to be better in the terrain park, so it’s important to keep things in perspective.
-Direct involvement with coaches helps to make sure that students aren’t headed off to do tricks that they aren’t ready for. Some tricks, like inverts, aren’t allowed until students demonstrate a serious mastery of their sport.
RIDGE Freestyle progressions provide student athletes and RIDGE coaches with a framework and a 'list of check-boxes' en route to freestyle competency.