Perhaps one of the first tricks that comes to mind when doing anything is jumping things or off things. For many of us the thrill of jumps started when we where kids riding our BMX bikes. We would ride as fast as we could before launching off a small ramp made of a piece of wood resting on top of whatever we had on hand to raise the edge up off the ground. For some of us this was a passing phase and quickly out grown but for the rest of us moved on to things such as skateboarding ramps and the ultimate rush, snowboarding ramps, jumps and chutes.
When it comes to snowboarding, many of the same rules and lessons that we learnt on our bikes is true for jumping on snow. Of course the first rule that many of us learnt is that practice makes perfect. The more we attempted jumps, the easier it became. This is very true for snowboarding as well. The more you practice jumping off anything the easier it will become to the point that we don’t even think about it.
Generally speaking there are two ways to jump, the Ollie method and the speed method. Each method is slightly different and should be used in different situation, but each method also compliments the other and can be used at the same time. To explain further lets look at each method a little closer.
The Ollie method of jumping is derived from skateboarding and thus the technique is very much the same. A properly performed Ollie makes it look like you are leaping straight up of the ground or what ever you happen to be on top off. While this is an optical illusion the Ollie does help you to raise you up higher off the ground than you could by simply jumping.
When looked at critically, an Ollie is simply the act of raising the nose of your snowboard high up in to the air and then bringing the tail to the same height. To do this put your weight on your back foot as you jump or come off a jump. As you reach the lip of the jump you must launch yourself hard by jumping from your back foot and using the tail of your snowboard as a springboard. As you raise into the air pull your back foot up to gain even more clearance.
The funny thing about an Ollie, or at least for me, is that while it seems obvious how to do it and the physics make perfect sense, the actual execution of it is much harder than expected. The best answer to this problem is to seek the help of someone who knows what they are doing. Taking the time to work with an instructor or a friend will greatly increase your ability to Ollie and make it much easier for you to grab more air than you had imagined possible.
The second method of jumping is the brute force method of jumping. The brute force method of jumping relies upon the speed you have built up to launch you both up in to the air and further down the hill. This style of jumping can be accentuated by combining it with an Ollie. Brute force jumping is exactly like riding over a jump on your BMX bike.
While the idea of brute force jumping many be familiar with us, the actions required for landing a jump may be new to you. Due to the speed, heights and distances possible when brute force jumping, the form you use is very important.
The first thing to bear in mind is your landing surface. Always be sure of where you are going to land and keep your snowboard flat and level. If you catch an edge when landing you will bail. When in the air keep your body upright, slightly lean back and bend your knees slightly. You want to ensure that you can give a little in your legs when you land to absorb the shock of touching down.
Before you touch down center your weight on the snowboard and make sure you are parallel with the steepness of the slope you are landing on. As you touch down crouch down to absorb the shock and lower your center of gravity thus making it easier to control your landing.
Just as when we where kids, it is easy to become unsettled about the jump we are about to take. The key to completing any jump is to be confident, aware of your surroundings and practice as much as possible. If you do this you will be grabbing huge airs in no time.