Changing up how you get onto rails: Street onto a down rail
More and more rails are popping up that don’t allow riders to get onto them straight. With the beginning of the rail built higher than the ramp that leads to it, terrain park designers have forced jibbers to figure out new ways to get onto rails. Taken from skateboarding (where most rails don’t have ramps built up to them), this method of entry has been modified for the snow in the form of “street on”: approaching and jumping onto the rail from the side.
To street onto a down rail, you approach the rail from a slight angle. You jump and land a few feet down the rail, skipping that first section of rail entirely, and sliding the rest of the rail like you would normally.
The challenge when doing this entry is making it to the end of the rail, even though you did not approach it straight on. Your momentum is carrying you across the rail. This requires the more advanced adjustment; otherwise you will slide off too early.
Prep yourself for that adjustment on a down rail with these tips:
First, go back to an easy, straight rail. Attempt your first “street ons” here. Approach the rail at a slight angle (from the left side if you slide left-foot forward), jump and land more on the toes than the center of the foot. Because your momentum is carrying you across the rail, you will slide from toe to arch to heel. Landing more on the toes will allow you to reach the end of the rail before you run out of foot.
Once you dial this in on flat rails, take it to the next step: the down rail. The focus here is not only to approach from the side and land on your toes, but to also make the adjustment forward so that your body position matches the slope of the rail.
It takes the right combination of speed, angle approach, and proper positioning on your foot to street onto a down rail smoothly. Keep practicing until you find that touch.
Next time you see one of these down rails, you won’t be asking why the park crew didn’t finish building the ramp up to it.
Next week: spin off a rail.
Kelly Coffey is a freestyle trainer and instructor for the Vail Ski and Snowboard School. He is PSIA advanced-freestyle-accredited and level-III-certified. He appeared in Warren Miller’s film “Impact.” He also does freestyle tips segments for PlumTV.
View past freestyle tips articles on vailtrail.com.
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