The how-to manual of not falling
AVON – There’s one thing that just about everyone who’s tried snowboarding associates with the learning process: Pain.Avon veteran snowboard instructor Danny Martin has spent seven days a week just about every winter for the last 16 years battling this association.There is a way to learn, Martin says, that doesn’t involve spending the day on your butt, knees and elbows. Martin, whose snowboarding prowess has led him to multiple write-ups in “Elle” magazine, “Fitness,” “The New York Times” and several others, published a book last month implementing his no-fall snowboarding technique.
“No-Fall Snowboarding” probably won’t make the next Olympic halfpipe champion out of the average bookworm or couch potato, but it does offer the beginner rider some very specific balancing, turning and fitness techniques with which to become a more competent (and less bruised) snowboarder. For the experienced rider, the book has sections on riding fakie, riding more aggressively, riding in different snow conditions and eliminating bad habits.Not the skier’s wayMartin considers his no-fall methodology something entirely different from that taught by most instructors, many of whom he feels implement ski-learning techniques into their snowboarding lessons.”The conventional method (of snowboard instruction) is lower body rotation – hips, body and feet,” said Martin, who just returned from France where he met some of his international clients for some teaching and turns.”Any time you do that twisting and maneuvering with your lower body instead of moving the upper body to stay in balance, what ends up happening is that you fall,” he said. “It’s a skier maneuver that stems from going straight down the fall line.”So much for the coveted silent upper body made popular by professional moguls skiers whose arms remain solidly in front of them as their legs and knees spring like rapid-fire rubber bands through a field of bumps. Arm-swinging aside, Martin and his no-fall method preaches the use of the upper body as it best coordinates with the rest of the object in motion – that is, the snowboard and rider.
“With my method, you learn how to move your entire body as if it was one snowboarding unit instead of a person on a snowboard,” Martin said. “It takes practice, the balancing techniques. You can almost call it a discipline. I would say my students learn quicker than what they’d learn in the conventional way. My method is that you are taught how to move as if the snowboard is a part of you.”In addition to writing a whole book addressing it, Martin was so convinced of his specific snowboarding balance exercises that he built and patented a practice board – a wooden board with two rollers underneath – which can be purchased at The Board Room in Avon for around $100.”People can learn these moves in a gym,” Martin said. “Then, when it comes time to learn snowboarding, they already have the moves down. There are several types of boards you can develop your balance on. My board is specifically designed to develop precise muscles, not just rock back and forth.”A chapter to tick off the listOf all of his global publicity, Martin said he has taught about 50 percent of the journalists or photographers who have focused on him how to snowboard and matter-of-factly admits that he has “a very high success rate.”Martin instructs independently and travels to whichever ski area is convenient for his clients, who pay him $125 an hour. This could mean Beaver Creek or Val d’Isere, France.
The material for his book was gathered over a 10-year period, generated by pressing mental notes he took while teaching and freeriding.”There’s a lot of stuff that’s woven in there,” Martin said. “The way I wrote it in the beginning was straightforward. I would teach and think about things when I rode. Somebody told me, ‘You better write these things down.’ So, people will be able to read it and get good use out of it. It will help them get out there and do it. And now I can go freeriding and not have anything on my mind.”Martin says since making the switch from skis to a snowboard 18 years ago, he has never turned back. Although he believes in his methods, the most important part of his teaching and his job is that it allows him a chance to ride every day.”The best part of teaching snowboarding for me is that when I wake up in the morning, I’m going snowboarding,” Martin said. “I love snowboarding so much, it’s ridiculous.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado