Got a great question via email:
How do you learn to hit big jumps?
Good question. Most bigger mountains offers you small, medium and large jumps, but the large jumps are usually a decent step up from the medium jumps, so how do you make that transition up to the bigger 50-90 foot jumps?
1) Perfect technique on small/medium jumps first
Get really comfortable hitting small and medium jumps. You want basic straight airs (no spin) to be a walk in the park. The trick to big jumps is that they’re not really any harder to hit than smaller jumps, but falls might hurt a little more.
I find the best technique is to get the basic movements and techniques mastered on the smaller jumps first, then take it to the big jumps. This way you have minimum risk and when you take the trick to the bigger jump, you’ll find that the increased air time can actually makes it easier to execute techniques.
2) Get used to the speed
Bigger jumps mean bigger run ins and more speed. It can be pretty intimidating standing at the start of a huge run in, especially when you may not be used to going that fast into a jump.
Go to some nice open blue runs on a non powder day and get used to going really fast. Get used to carving at speed and the feeling of speeding down the runs because that’s the same feeling you’ll have riding towards a big jump.
3) Check the speed
Similar to how you’d check the speed for any other jump, ask other riders hitting the larger jumps what the speed is. Watch where they drop in and how many speed checks they do.
Feel free to drop in and do a couple test runs to check the speed of a jump. In particular, make sure you ride up to the jump at full speed and brake at the last moment. This really helps you get used to the feeling of approaching the jump at speed and going up the take-off.
If you’re not familiar with how to get the speed right, check out our previous blog here: Getting the right speed for jumps
4) Straight air first and remember to push against the compression
If you’re thinking about hitting a large jump, you should always do a straight air first. Get used to doing straight airs on larger jumps before thinking about spinning. If you want to spin, make sure you’re comfortable and landing your spins on small jumps first.
Another big thing to remember is to fight the compression force of the jump. You know how you have to push against a smaller jump as you go up the take-off? The same goes for a larger jump, except there’s going to be a bit more force pushing down on you.
You don’t want the large jump to spit you off the take-off unbalanced, so remember your jump technique when going up the take-off.
5) Know the shape of the jump
Large jumps can be kicky or mellow or some mix of the two. Smaller jumps are the same, but you’ll notice it a lot more since the jump is bigger.
You want to be prepared for it, so talk to other people that are hitting the jump. Even experienced riders ask each other about the jump conditions, especially on big jumps. It’s all a part of risk management.
6) If possible, follow someone in
You’ll find that most people that hit the larger jumps are incredibly friendly. We’re all just there having fun and working on tricks, so don’t be scared to ask the other riders if they’d be willing to let you follow them in.
Just tell them that it’s your first time hitting a big jump and you’ll find that most people will be happy to help you out. Everyone understands how nerve wrecking hitting your first big jump can be, so most of us are happy to help out.
Follow ins are great because you just follow the exact same speed as the guy in front of you. It’s a simple way to make sure you get the speed right.
Good luck! Remember that you’re taking the same techniques from small jumps and applying them to the big jump. If you’ve mastered it on a small jump, you can do it on a big jump 😉