Monday, April 20, 2009

Freestyle Skiing and the ATML Method

Many crazy people are always trying to bust the biggest move in the trauma park...I mean, the terrain park. However, few skiers really know how to approach new terrain features or how to grow comfortable and properly learn how to ski them. What's the real way to learn so that you don't tackle your tips and tails? Magic.

Actually, magic is not nearly cool enough for skiing. So instead we use the ATML method. What is the ATML method? Well it breaks down to the following: Approach, Take-off, Maneuver, and Landing. By focusing on each of these parts separately and then blending them together (in the correct order), it is much easier to develop your skills as a freestyle skier, whether it's for the superpipe or the small bump on the side of the green circle you are skiing. Skiers and snowboarders alike use this method.

Approach: This is where all the fun starts. Have you ever started toward the ramp of a wooly mammoth-sized jump and then realized you have too much speed? Well instead of letting your bladder go, try analyzing the approach beforehand. Before you even put on your equipment, walk to the beginning of the feature (a feature could be a jump, a rail, a box, etc.) and LOOK at it. Look at the differences between one spot and the next. Touch the feature and feel what it is like. If it is an icy, slick rail, you will approach it differently then if it were a rough, course, dry box. After analyzing the approach, determine what speed you think would be appropriate to enter the feature. Also look at where would be the best area to approach it from uphill (i.e. Would it be better to come from the left side or right?).

Take-off: The take-off is pretty self-explanatory. The main focus here is how you want your body to be positioned at the time of your take-off and how aggressive you are going to be with the entry.

Maneuver (or Method): This is the actual trick you will be performing. It may be simply keeping your balance in the air, a nosegrab, an iron cross, or sliding on the rail. It is important to know ahead of time what maneuver you plan on performing and how to do it.

Landing: In your landing, it is important to land with soft, flexed joints - somewhat bent knees, flexed ankles, flexed hips. You do not want to stiffen up your body in fear because you see that you are about to fall to a scary death. (The chances of that actually happening are slim - you usually won't walk away with more than a broken clavicle or a fractured vertebra). Stiffening up your body makes you less flexible and more prone to stress - that is, bones break more easily...ouch. Make sure you aim for a nice, balanced position so that you finish looking like a pro. Then smile for the judges/TV camera/mom/imaginary stadium there to watch your magnificence.

'Safety Culture - ATML Method' from
After you have figured out each piece of the puzzle independently, then piece them together to make a masterpiece. It is art really.

Two Additional Foods for Thought

First, remember that balance is essential to any type of skiing - including freestyle. Go back to the "Balance - The Foundation for the Rest" post to review some necessary balance skills.

SnowShack Ski and Snowboard Accessories
Second, wear a helmet, wear a helmet, wear a helmet. And if you are truly interested in deeper thought, wear a helmet. Wrist guards can help too. You can buy some cool ski accessories for low prices at SnowShack Ski and Snowboard Accessories.

Disclaimer: SkiBlog-SkiBlog and any of its authors are not responsible and are not liable for any injuries or deaths associated with your skiing. We will accept recognition or cash for gold medals or first place awards though.


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