Terrain Based Learning-Why It Works

By Mountain Mama Dec 29, 2015
Learning to ski or snowboard is supposed to be fun. You want your first experience on snow to be a good one, and to give you a feeling of confidence and accomplishment. Terrain based learning has certainly helped build that confidence and has been adopted by many ski resorts.
Terrain Based Learning-Why It Works

If you're like me, the thought of trying something new can be a little daunting. Many things run through your mind like "what if I get hurt, what if I don't like it, what if I'm not good....".  Learning to ski as an adult, I can relate to all those things. In recent years, terrain based learning has been introduced as a way to make this easier. It is pretty basic common sense, really. When you're learning to ski, your fear becomes "what if I can't stop and get going too fast and crash into something?" Fair question for sure. 

Things that would make you slow down:

1. Being forced to turn.

2. Going up a hill-instant slow down so you can get control of your skis.

3. A large bowl shape so you go back and forth turning.

These are all the techniques incorporated into terrain based learning and doing away with the "old style" of learning by yelling "PIZZA" to make your kids do a wedge to stop.

The "new" terrain features force people to keep their skis straight while turning.

Rollers: Teach you to "feel" how your skis flex and bend as you go over the gentle hills. You also learn to use your knees to absorb the bumps. Your weight shifts slightly and you can see how a slight shift helps you turn.

Banked Turns: As I mentioned above, you must be "forced" to turn. This makes you put different pressure on each ski to turn which if you were on a regular slope, you'd turn. You "feel" how it is to turn.

Pumped Tracks: Combines both of the above, flexing your skis, forcing the turns and shifting your pressure.

Terrain Features for Skiing

Keep in mind, these options are offered on very gentle slopes. There is just a gradual slope so you can get the hang of the terrain with your skis before you progress to a higher area of terrain.

I did a blog a couple years ago at Snowbasin where they do a progression from their small riglet park where you learn on very small features and "graduate" to the larger learning hill which is much longer and you really can get the hang of these features all in a row. i included a video in the blog in which Brennan scooted along the features on his snowboard.

Brian Head has also developed this philosophy and has great success in teaching this as well. This video explains it well.

So if you're a never ever or your kids are, get out and enjoy! Mother Nature has delivered this holiday for sure!