Sliding the metal rails, one step at a time |

Sliding the metal rails, one step at a time

Kelly Coffey
Photo compilation by Matt IndenSliding metal rails isn't for the faint-hearted; Kelly Coffey shows how freestyle wannabes can get started.

If you are already comfortable sliding a funbox, there are some tips to make the transition to the metal rails easier. You’re already doing the hard part: keeping your side-to-side balance as you slide across a funbox. It’s the same sensations on a rail; only now you have a smaller target to aim for.

Find a rail that’s not too scary. It should be close to the ground and have a small ramp of snow that pops you into the air smoothly. Ideally, there should be no gap between the snow ramp and the rail.

Before you attempt the slide, get comfortable with the approach. Come at the rail in a straight run (wedge if you need to slow down), having your bellybutton aligned with the center of the rail. Do a fly-by: jump off the ramp at an angle and land off to the side of the rail. This will let you judge both the speed you need and the way the ramp will pop you in the air.

Because the crucial difference between a funbox and a rail is width, you must think of where you want to have your feet land on the rail. Aim to have the back half of the arches of your feet (just in front of your heel) align with the center of the rail as you slide it.

You’ve now done the prep work, so you’re ready to make your first attempt. When you jump and turn onto the rail (turn the full 90 degrees), make sure you pop forward with your core over your feet. A common fault is to lead with your feet when you are scared by the rail, resulting in being too far back on your back leg and letting your feet slide out from under you.

To prevent that outcome, when you land on the rail, imagine you are in a snowboarder’s stance: a low, wide stance with your shoulders aligned with the rail. Keep a little more weight on the front foot.

After that first successful slide, hike back up the hill to do it again. Get comfortable with the same rail by sliding it a number of times. Once you’re nailing that rail time after time, you can step up to rails that are slightly longer or higher.

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.

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