How to Kill It in the Park

Shawn Lake started out as a racer but once he learned to ride park, it was slopestyle all the way.

He has podiumed in several contests already, but his big thing is helping beginners learn to jump and ride rails--without trauma.

Here are some of Shawn's best tips, for both skiers and snowboarders.

Biggest Mistakes

The biggest mistake most people make in the park is riding outside of their ability. Start in a small park with little jumps and rails. Learn on 'ride-ons,' rails that are real low to the snow. Work your way up slowly. Other snowriders will always be willing to give you help, just ask. Ask a lot.

Body Position

You want 75 percent of your weight on your front foot, with your leading edge off the rail about a half inch or so. You want your head up, looking at the end of the rail. You want your knees bent, and a good wide stance. A lot of people keep their hands down and stand up straight on the rail. You want to be in a slight squat.

For skiers, since you're sliding sideways, turn your body facing down the hill for the landing. Your skis will follow.

Speed

Carry the right amount of speed, and right when you get to the lip, pop yourself up a little bit, and you will get air. The harder you pop--extending your bent knees--the more air you'll get. If you don't want air, then when you get about two feet from the lip, bring your knees up to absorb the lip, then when you get to the back side of the jump, stand up.

Landing

Look before you leap. Ride the park once just to check things out. Pick your landing spots. For spins, like a 180, you're landing backwards, so you want to know where you're going to land, keep your head back to spot your landing.

Falls

The reason most people fall on rails is because their center of balance is off or their weight is not distributed correctly. If you fall on a jump, it's usually because you didn't carry enough speed, you had too much speed, or you didn't spot your landing. Never start out big. Just because you can do a flip on a trampoline, doesn't mean you can do it on snow.

Foam Pits

Most gymnastic schools have foam pits where you can practice flips and tricks without getting hurt. They usually have open sessions, and many will let you work out in the foam pit on skis. Practice doing your inverts and big tricks in a foam pit first. If you don't have one for practice, then only try your harder tricks on a big powder day with a really soft landing.


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