Stepping up to the flat-down rail
This hybrid between a flat rail and a down rail is a great way to take your jibbing beyond the basic flat rails. Requiring skills greater than merely surviving a rail, the flat-down rail will get you in shape for the bigger and crazier rails they keep throwing into the terrain park.
To slide a flat-down rail you need to make the adjustment from sliding a flat rail to sliding a down rail. Essentially it’s about keeping your body in the right alignment: perpendicular to the slope of the rail. This means you will be straight up and down on the flat part, but more angled down the hill on the down part.
The challenge of the flat-down rail is adjusting from the first position to the second position while sliding on a rail.
Follow this progression to make sure you keep up with the flat-down rail:
Begin by warming up on flat rails. Find one as similar to the flat-down rail as possible. This means finding a rail that is about the same height, length, width, and gap between the ramp and the rail. Do laps on that rail to the point where you feel very confident. Focus on keeping low – flex at the ankles, knees, and hips as you slide across. This will keep you more secure and promote a wider stance.
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By being low and having your feet spread wide, your body can make a quicker and more forgiving adjustment at the kink than if you slide the rail while in a tall position.
Now’s the time to hit the flat-down rail you’ve been eyeing. On your first attempts, hit the flat part, but slide off before you get to the kink. Do this by approaching the rail at a slight angle. This turns the flat-down rail into just a flat rail, allowing you to get comfortable with simply getting on.
After you’ve gotten the touch with the first half of the rail, you can tackle the rest of it. Focus on staying low and making that adjustment forward at the kink.
The flat-down rail is a great transition from basic rails. Master the adjustment on the flat-down rail and you will be ready to go after those different adjustments on rails like C’s, rainbows, and many others.
Next week: street onto a down 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.