What went wrong?

I have been trying to figure out just what I did wrong to break my ankle last week and I think I can understand it now so I will share the lesson I have learned.

I was carving quite quickly on my toe edge when I decided to hit the brakes and come to a stop at the side of the slope. It probably would have been more elegant to finish the turn and slow a bit more gradually afterwards but, for whatever reason, I did not. Even so, it should not be a problem to apply the brakes mid turn, even at speed, so what did I do wrong?

I think what happened, and it is hard to remember exactly, is that as I tried to brake I started to lose the edge and I pushed out with my feet extending my knees to try and drive the edge harder into the snow. This is quite a natural and instinctive reaction but it is absolutely the wrong thing to do and I should have known better.

I learnt a few years ago that when you begin to lose an edge and start to slide the thing to do is not to push harder against that edge with your legs but, rather, to bend your knees and sink into the board. This has the effect of moving your centre of gravity over the edge and will stop the slide very effectively. Pushing out with your legs, while it might feel like you are increasing the edge pressure, just puts the edge further away from your centre of gravity and loses grip.

In the case of my accident it also meant there was no flex left in my knees to absorb the shock which I was actually opposing by pushing when I should have been absorbing it by bending.

I learned that lesson in theory long ago but I never put it into practice in my riding sufficiently for it to become instinctive. I will now.

5 April 2004 Permalink
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