Jibbing: Going outside – and on top of – the box
It happened to be a powder day when I showed up at Snowmass for my jibbing lesson. Lucky for me, because that early morning glade-skiing on the Big Burn was easily my best performance of the day.
Not that I didn’t have a blast learning to slide rails, jump tabletops and ski the halfpipe. It’s just that the last time I’d fallen that often was a beer-soaked mud football game in college.When skiing powder I’m relaxed and happy; I’m like the proverbial pig in manure.In the terrain park, on the other hand, I’m a 41-year-old father of three, a buffoon, a square. I’m pleased as punch to let the little rippers jump into the pipe before me, because the minute I go, I know they’re all gonna watch and I’m certain to flounder.Fortunately, my instructor for the day, the enthusiastic Aaron Anderson, 25, would have none of such thinking.
“These parks and pipes are for everybody, not just young jibbers,” he said as we approached the Lizard Lodge family area. “I just want to give my students a base, enough so they feel comfortable.”I had managed to place my ego on hold for the morning and, having clicked into my rented twin-tip trick skis, was mentally prepared to look like a moron in public. But I was by no means comfortable.Whatever. Our legs warmed up from the Powerline Glades, we stopped in a flat area and practiced the right stance and approach for a new-school jibbing maneuver. We then continued down Scooper toward the “fun box,” a low-to-the-ground table feature that beginners slide on before graduating to more treacherous rails.
Aaron hopped onto the box and scraped away the new-fallen snow with a clean, quick slide. For some reason I followed him and SPLAT – down I went, like a melon on concrete.”Wow – I wasn’t expecting you to do that, but I like your enthusiasm,” Aaron said.I tried the box several times, making progress but hardly mastering anything. When I executed one smooth slide, however, Aaron was ready for the next step.”We always progress, we never go backward,” he smiled.
Off to Little Makaha, a collection of intermediate rails and jumps on Assay Hill. Here I flew through a series of three tabletop jumps – I don’t mind my skis leaving the ground, at least not when it’s on purpose – but the buffoon feeling returned when we came to the rails.It’s not easy keeping a virtually frictionless iron tube centered beneath a pair of sliding, steel-edged skis – especially if the slider is off-balance to start with. I can see light at the end of this wintry tunnel, but I doubt I’ll trash my own skis trying to get there.The halfpipe is another story.
Though intimidating at first, the Trenchtown halfpipe (below the Burlingame chair) is only as gnarly as a skier or rider makes it. Speed, trajectory and everything else are entirely controllable and subject to the rider’s discretion. It took me a couple of cautious runs to realize it, but a fun ride down the halfpipe requires only a bit of technique and some trust in the power of gravity. The pipe itself provides the horsepower.I didn’t master this terrain feature either – and thankfully, our photographer had gone to another assignment – but I left with a smile on my face. And I developed the base knowledge that my instructor spoke about, enough to go back later this season and give it a shot.I’ll also have at least a smidgen of credibility when my kids – future jibbers, no doubt – insist that Daddy bust a move.Bob Ward’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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