Snowboarders: You Can Learn from Watching the 2018 Winter Olympics Halfpipe Competitions
If you snowboard and want to up your game this season, watching the men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe competitions during the 2018 Winter Olympic games in PyeongChang, South Korea will give you some important tips to apply to your your own riding this winter, according to the Winter edition of 32 Degrees, The Journal of Professional Snowsports Instruction for the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI).
Tony Macri, a member of AASI’s national snowboard team, explains what to look for and learn from during the Olympic Snowboard halfpipe competitions.
“The halfpipe event is one of the premier spectator events during the Winter Olympics,” says Macri. “It’s exhilarating and quite a spectacle watching the riders manage incredible forces as they throw larger tricks with greater precision.”
Macri breaks down what to watch for during the Olympic halfpipe competitions into three elements: dropping in, the set up, and momentum.
- Dropping In: Watch how each athlete gets ready before dropping into the pipe. For example, they look intensely down the pipe while they visualize in their mind their planned run and the tricks they will perform. Some riders might even close their eyes and move their hands or head as they visualize what they are about to do. Right before dropping into the pipe, they may often do something to trigger a deep state of focus, such as smacking their hands together, doing an Ollie (a standing in place jump trick), or simply taking a deep breath.
- The Set Up: During the run down through the pipe, watch for the set up moves which happen before an athlete performs their trick. Notice how the rider uses flexion, which is created by bending their hips, knees, and ankles, to build energy. Riders also store their energy by rotating their upper body against their lower body. A good set up is timed perfectly so it does not disrupt the flow of the rider’s run.
- Momentum: The snow used in halfpipes is designed on purpose to be icy, the snowboarder wants to move as fast as possible down the pipe to get more air (or go higher up the side of the halfpipe) while at the same time managing their force, speed, line, and board. Look for snow spraying up from their snowboard. Less snow spray is better because it means the rider is moving faster, which allows them to get more amplitude, or go higher.
Lessons learned. Like the pro riders at the Olympics, Macri recommends having a plan when your ride. Visualization is helpful to do before you take a run, especially if you’re trying something new. Once you visualize your run, get focused and pump yourself up. Next, make sure you are prepared with a strong set up, such as proper alignment. Most important—remember to have fun, and trust your momentum!
Macri recommends if you want to take your riding to the next level, and are interested in learning more about the benefits of taking a lesson from a certified instructor, visit PSIA-AASI’s Take a Lesson page.