Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Heelside turns/steeps/soft boots/strap bindings
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  • #566782
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    So all this talk about boots etc. has prompted me to ask this question that I’ve been meaning to ask for a while but just haven’t gotten around to yet.

    I ride in soft boots/strap bindings, and I generally feel pretty comfortable in just about all conditions. However, a couple incidents this year reminded me of one case where I get sketched out sometimes. That is when doing heelside turns in steep chutes (45 plus) in spring (i.e. firm) conditions. I find that heelside it’s a lot easier to slip out, chatter, or otherwise not maintain control in the turn in these conditions, whereas if I flip over to toeside I have no problems in exactly the same stuff.

    So I’m wondering:

    1) Is it just me? Or is this common?

    2) Any suggestions?

    A couple things I’ve found which improve the situation:

    – I find that keeping my knees together and thus flexing the board a bit helps keep the edge hold.

    – A while back I started using Burton C14 bindings. The highbacks were so stiff and high that if I used any forward lean, they would kill my calves. I recently switched to P1’s, which are little more forgiving, and have an easy tool-less forward lean adjustment. I found that adding some forward lean helped out, and with the P1’s it’s easy to set it back to no forward lean for skinning.

    Any other ideas?

    #582893
    huevon
    124 Posts

    You’re not alone. This seems to be the major problem area for riding firm steeps. I think there are several contributing factors, the biggest being that we are anatomically designed to balance better on our toes than on our heels, so it’s harder to keep the optimal edging angle dailed in. There may also be some psychological tendency to lean back too far, and not stand directly over the board. Then there is the dreaded boot/binding drag.

    I think you have the right idea with the shin angle and keeping your knees bent.

    Suggestions, I don’t know, carry an ice axe and don’t try to snowboard on ice. You might consider experimenting with stiffer components.

    #582894
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    @huevon wrote:

    You might consider experimenting with stiffer components.

    Like… hardboots??

    DOH! 🙂

    #582895
    huevon
    124 Posts

    heheh, yeah… well bro, it must be that you have obviously just never tried the heelside turn, because if you had, you wouldn’t be all confused and asking questions like this. 🙄 😆

    #582896
    mtnrider
    740 Posts

    I’m love forward lean, in the proper setting…um, pretty much anything but deep pow!!!!! It will probably cause you some pain at first but if you try it a day or two at the resort I’m sure you’ll notice how much harder you can edge on you heelside. Those C are stiff and real high too…u’r right there.

    Have you rotated the highback so that it is parallel or more parallel to your heelside edge? If you’re running high angles this could also cause some pain from the high back pushing into the back of your calve. then you can add more forward lean

    😀

    also, not to bust out my AASI association on you but 😆
    1) head looking where you want to go…on heelside especially force yourself to look over your shoulder further across the slope as you make your turn thru the apex rather than looking down the slope.

    #582897
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    Thanks for the tips. Some comments:

    @mtnrider wrote:

    I’m love forward lean, in the proper setting…um, pretty much anything but deep pow!!!!! It will probably cause you some pain at first but if you try it a day or two at the resort I’m sure you’ll notice how much harder you can edge on you heelside.

    Yeah, I tried it at the resort first. I tried various settings, from nothing to cranked all the way. Definitely can feel the difference (and the tired calves after a while in the most extreme setting!). Even with that though, in the conditions I described, I still don’t feel as dialed as I do toeside.

    Those C are stiff and real high too…u’r right there.

    I think the C14 highbacks were even higher than the current C60’s. Right now I’m using P1 Carbons. The highback is stiff, but more forgiving than the C14.

    Have you rotated the highback so that it is parallel or more parallel to your heelside edge? If you’re running high angles this could also cause some pain from the high back pushing into the back of your calve. then you can add more forward lean

    Yep, highback is rotated. I’m running shallow angles, like 6 back 18 front. The back highback is not rotated, the front one is. The cool thing about the P1 is that the forward lean is independent of highback rotation.

    also, not to bust out my AASI association on you but 😆
    1) head looking where you want to go…on heelside especially force yourself to look over your shoulder further across the slope as you make your turn thru the apex rather than looking down the slope.

    I think the main problem is at the end of the turn, especially when I’m survival turning and want to stop (which is of course where you *really* don’t want to slip!). So at the point where I slip I’m usually at the end of the turn in the sideslip position, i.e. facing downhill w/board across fall line.

    #582898
    jack
    323 Posts

    @mtnrider wrote:

    also, not to bust out my AASI association on you but 😆
    1) head looking where you want to go…on heelside especially force yourself to look over your shoulder further across the slope as you make your turn thru the apex rather than looking down the slope.

    as another AASI intructor, i would agree that the problem is mostly technique, not gear.

    #582899
    bcrider
    4149 Posts

    I’m the opposite jim, I feel much more comfortable and in control on my heelside edge.

    How much angle do you have in your front foot?

    #582900
    huevon
    124 Posts

    @jimw wrote:

    I think the main problem is at the end of the turn, especially when I’m survival turning and want to stop (which is of course where you *really* don’t want to slip!). So at the point where I slip I’m usually at the end of the turn in the sideslip position, i.e. facing downhill w/board across fall line.

    I too start to lose my balance when slowing down to stop. Especially if I mistakenly start putting my hands out behind me or trying to sit down, this will definitely kill your edge. This is the time that an axe comes in handy. After a couple skethy lessons, I just don’t try to stop on firm steeps unless I have an iceaxe to use as an anchor. Otherwise I’d say it’s best to just to keep moving, and don’t teeter on any one edge for too long.

    (yes, even on hardboots 😯 😆 )

    #582901
    bcrider
    4149 Posts

    @huevon wrote:

    I just don’t try to stop on firm steeps unless I have an iceaxe to use as an anchor. Otherwise I’d say it’s best to just to keep moving, and don’t teeter on any one edge for too long.
    (yes, even on hardboots 😯 😆 )

    This sounds dangerous to me. 😯

    You NEED to be able to stop at any given moment (or shortly thereafter…obviously we can’t stop instantly).

    Know your edges.

    #582902
    huevon
    124 Posts

    On an board, when the snow is too firm for tracks (my definition of too firm) my edge balance gets worse the slower I go. It’s not that I can’t usually come to a stop, it’s just that once I’m stopped, it’s really pretty hard to just balance that single edge on an anorexic line of little ice crystals. If I get in a nice axe stick though, I can relax and not have to worry about it too much. It’s just easier that way.

    I’ve never slipped more than 30 feet though, and that time was because I was in soft boots. 😈

    #582903
    bcrider
    4149 Posts

    @huevon wrote:

    It’s just easier that way.

    Not to mention safer…in those conditions.
    @huevon wrote:

    I’ve never slipped more than 30 feet though, and that time was because I was in soft boots. 😈

    That’s funny, I was thinking the opposite. Based on what you described with it being harder to keep your balance when slowing down, it sounds like the high-responsiveness of the hardboots is working against you by making every slight change in balance more noticeable.

    #582904
    Jon Dahl
    384 Posts

    I could set up camp on the toeside edge in hardboots, and it’s because of the responsiveness. Heelside balance issues at a stop are because of the awkwardness of reaching behind at a stop, made worse by lack of response in boot/bindings. Rather than stop on the heelside, why not slow down and hook uphill at the last bit and then snap the board around to the toeside. That way you are facing the slope and can plant an axe for a rest/survey as you plan your next move? I’d rather look over my shoulder to plan than try to balance uncomfortably and think. Sometimes doing both is a real exercise in futility, esp. if you are in survival mode already.

    #582905
    huevon
    124 Posts

    @bcrider wrote:

    That’s funny, I was thinking the opposite. Based on what you described with it being harder to keep your balance when slowing down, it sounds like the high-responsiveness of the hardboots is working against you by making every slight change in balance more noticeable.

    This may well be the case, but then there is a tradeoff, as with a more rigid setup it is easier to maintain the high forces that are often necessary to keep an edge. Edging in soft boots is a lot more demanding of your ankles and lower leg muscles.

    In the specific case where I slid, I had just done a jump turn from toeside to heelside on a quite firm and steep slope, and upon landing I think I was a little off balance and leaned back too much. Like any typical snowboarder I let my hands and rear end contact the snow and went for a little ride, until I got back on top of the board and the ‘snow’ got a little nicer. I think if I had not bobbled it, and stayed on top of the board instead of fading backward, I’d have held it together with either type of boot… but since I haven’t had a chance to try this in hardboots yet, I’ll reserve judgement.

    But the thing about hardboots, is that between boots and edges, there is no argument over who’s boss. If you lose an edge in hardboots it’s not for lack of power.

    I think it’s just really hard to stand in place on board no matter what the setup. It’s why you always see snowboarders sitting down. Only you can’t sit down on a steep firm slope without going for an unexpected ride.

    Sometimes it’s enough just to stick your hands out for balance. But this works a lot better toeside than heelside. It seems like to be able to reach back to the slope while heelside, you end up shifting you center of gravity behind the board, which will cause you to lose your edge.

    #582906
    bcrider
    4149 Posts

    @huevon wrote:

    It’s why you always see snowboarders sitting down.

    Not the good ones.

    Next time you are at the ski resort take a look at the boarders getting off the lifts. 95% of them will be on their asses but the good ones don’t need to sit down to put their bindings on. Being able to balance on your board while its stationary will only help your balance it when its moving. 🙂

    #582907
    huevon
    124 Posts

    No way, I use my iceaxe for strapping in too. I get wierd looks from the lifties, but they are too scared to come take it away from me. 😆

    #582908
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    @jack wrote:

    as another AASI intructor, i would agree that the problem is mostly technique, not gear.

    I’m not an AASI instructor, I just play one on TV. 🙂 I do think I’ve got decent technique. I certainly feel comfortable enough to hold my own on most any slope (little slide in the video notwithstanding!). But of course there’s always room for improvement, and this is one of those areas for me. So perhaps you could offer a concrete suggestion instead of just suggesting that it’s a “technique problem”?

    Speaking of which, one thing I mentioned in the original post was that pushing my knees together to flex the board seems to help. Also, keeping the knees more bent than I would normally seems to help as well. The extreme opposite of this would be when you see a beginner slip out heelside and start bouncing down the hill with their legs almost straight.

    Again, I’m only experiencing this issue on super steep stuff with hard snow (but I would assume that improving it in these conditions also could only make things better in “regular” conditions as well).

    @bcrider wrote:

    I’m the opposite jim, I feel much more comfortable and in control on my heelside edge.

    How much angle do you have in your front foot?

    Weird! Really, you’re more comfortable heelside? I feel like toeside I can stop on a dime, and put the board anywhere.

    Anyone else on soft boots feel more comfortable heelside?

    My angles are 6 back and 18 front. Binding position is in the “reference stance” on the Burton split.

    Let me clarify a bit on the point where I typically start slipping out. It’s *near* the end of the turn, but not at the very end when I’m basically stopped and just balancing. It’s before I get to that point. When I’m toeside, I can do jump turns on super steeps and dig in as much as I want to. Doing the same thing heelside, I feel like there’s a point of “digging in” that I can’t go past or I’ll start to slip out, and I feel like I need to dig in more in these conditions because I don’t want to slide too far in the turn. Does that make any sense?

    Perhaps I tend to lean back too much, like huevon was mentioning in his slide. Certainly that’s easy to do on real steep stuff. This kinda makes sense as in the toeside case, you could lean closer to the snow without slipping out because you have more freedom of ankle rotation that way in the binding.

    Regarding hardboots, I’d like to try that sometime, but I don’t want to look at that as a solution to this issue. There are certainly people out there who are not having problems with this in soft boots, so I know there’s got to be something I can do to improve on this.

    @john Dahl wrote:

    Rather than stop on the heelside, why not slow down and hook uphill at the last bit and then snap the board around to the toeside.

    As mentioned above, the problem for me is not the final stop, it’s the slowing down before the stop. Once I get to the end of the turn in control I usually do what you’re suggesting.

    @bcrider wrote:

    Next time you are at the ski resort take a look at the boarders getting off the lifts. 95% of them will be on their asses but the good ones don’t need to sit down to put their bindings on.

    Ah. Guess I must not be good then. 🙂 Actually I rather like sitting down to put on my bindings, and I like sitting down on the hill. I also like wearing my pants low with my ass crack showing and wearing a beanie instead of a helmet. I think I look cool dammit. (OK, well the part about liking sitting down to put on bindings was true…)

    #582909
    Eric
    60 Posts

    Sounds like bending the board helps bring more of the edge into contact with the “snow”. You mention that you start to slip right after the apex of the turn, ie, when there is less pressure on the edge and the camber raises the depth of the sidecut away from the slope. I would suggest holding the edge further (longer). Let the whole board finish the turn completely. If you are still facing down the fall line when you unweight the edge, its no wonder you slip as you try to move the tip back across the fall line. Well… thats what it sounds like anyway 😛

    #582910
    mtnrider
    740 Posts

    @jimw wrote:

    one thing I mentioned in the original post was that pushing my knees together to flex the board seems to help. Also, keeping the knees more bent than I would normally seems to help as well.

    How about narrowing up your stance some or maybe widening it? I tried to run a narrower stance on my split to help initiate turns and such but I found the exact opposite to be true. Narrowing your stance will help put your CG more in the center of the board and help flex it but I had a hard time holding edge at higher speeds once I was at the apex of the turn throttling out. I decided to throw mine out a little wider. I was getting leg fatigue while riding and I didn’t feel like I was getting 100% edge hold. Went to about a 1″ wider stance and I’m liking it better. mucho mejor.

    #582911
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    @eric wrote:

    Sounds like bending the board helps bring more of the edge into contact with the “snow”. You mention that you start to slip right after the apex of the turn, ie, when there is less pressure on the edge and the camber raises the depth of the sidecut away from the slope. I would suggest holding the edge further (longer). Let the whole board finish the turn completely. If you are still facing down the fall line when you unweight the edge, its no wonder you slip as you try to move the tip back across the fall line. Well… thats what it sounds like anyway 😛

    I think I’m not explaining this right. 😕 It’s after the apex of the turn where you normally are pushing the edge the hardest. Definitely not talking about the point where I *unweight* the edge. So I have plenty of weight on the edge, the problem is I’m having a hard time applying enough pressure w/o slipping out (at least on the steeps in fairly firm snow). I feel like I can dig in a lot harder toeside.

    mtnrider I may try the wider stance idea. I still just have a nagging feeling that it’s something about my technique but nothing rings any bells so far…

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