Getting the right speed is one of the most important things when it comes to hitting any jump. Too slow and you hit the deck before the landing. Too fast and you overshoot the down slope.
So how do you get the speed right?
Well first, lets introduce some snow lingo that I’ll be using in my examples:
Speedcheck: Turning and/or putting on gentle breaking to slow down your speed.
Drop in: The spot which a rider chooses as the beginning of their run-up area for a jump.
Sweet spot: The downwards sloping area of a landing. The part that you want to aim to land on.
Overshoot: When someone goes too fast and overshoots the downslope of a landing.
Knuckle: When someone goes too slow and doesn’t reach the downslope of a landing.
Alright, now let’s look at some ways to help you get your speed right:
1) Watch others hit the jump
Take some time to watch other people hit the jump. What you want to look for is:
- Where do they drop in from?
- Do they add speedchecks as they approach the jump?
- Where do they land on the landing? Do they hit the sweet spot?
- How big are they? Heavier people require less run up for the same jump due to their increased weight.
What you’re aiming to do is to get an idea of the overall speed you need to land in the sweet spot. When you notice someone overshoot the jump, make a mental note to go slower than he was going. Oppositely, when you watch someone knuckle a jump, make a mental note to go faster than they were going.
2) Speedcheck the jump
What is speedchecking?
Speedchecking is simply riding up to the jump as if you were going to hit it, but putting on the brakes just before launching off the jump.
How is this helpful?
The more you hit jumps, the more you develop an ability to tell how far you’ll go based on how fast you are going. This is based on feel and speedchecking taps into this ability.
If you hit a smaller 15 foot jump 10 times, you’ll have a rough idea of how fast you’re going as you hit a jump of that shape and size.
The next time you speedcheck a jump, you’ll be able to compare your speed to the speed you needed for that 15 foot jump earlier.
3) Did the snow conditions change?
Snow conditions can change over time. This can happen overnight or even in the span of a couple runs. You may need to adjust your speed as the snow conditions change.
Icy snow means you need less run up and slower snow means you need more run up.
If it’s really icy in the morning, you may need to drop in closer to the jump, but if the sun comes out and starts melting the snow, the conditions become slower. In this situation, you’d start needing to drop in higher up to gain extra speed for the same jump.
4) Talk to other people in the terrain park
Don’t be afraid to talk to the other people in the terrain park. Feel free to ask, “Hey man, do you know the speed for this jump?” or “What’s the snow like today?”
It’s very, very common for park riders to ask each other questions and you’ll find that many riders are happy to share what they know.
Good luck and have fun stomping tricks in the park!