Coach’s Corner: Advanced Basics

Josh Ganz

Let’s face it, most people assume the AVSC Snowboard Team is just a bunch of park rats. Even us coaches get that feeling on occasion when the kids ask to enter the park every time we take the lift over it.

What’s been great is the realization that while yes, we ride the park quite often, it’s not our only facet, and the kids love it!

For the first few weeks we’ve been working on the basics, the fundamentals of snowboarding. We’ve been working on various turning techniques. Of course we as coaches are implementing our own style and flare into the methods and executions, so as not to be tedious and boring, but yes, we have actually been working on just turning! I could bore you with technical jargon, but it would be more interesting to just come ride with us and learn it that way.

Friends and other Aspen Skiing Co. instructors are taken aback when I inform them of this. They can’t believe that a freestyle team is just working on turning, much less the fact that we’ve been incorporating these various techniques into gates training.

While initially there were a few athletes that seemed slightly confused with our plans and methods as coaches, it was all made worthwhile this past weekend while we trained on Snowmass Ski Resort. With a lot more of the terrain open, we had a lot more options at our disposal. Alpine Springs accessed terrain was a major asset to us. This new terrain was the proving ground for our apparently crazy ideas.

If you’ve skied Naked Lady or Coffee Pot or any of the other terrain available in the middle of the resort you know that it’s incredibly variable. My team took the techniques we’ve been working on in regards to just turning and applied it to the freestyle arena, and we had a blast. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the kids forgot there was even a terrain park available.

We found creative lines crisscrossing back and forth from one side of the trails to another in the search of powder pockets and natural jumps, all the while making use of all the unique terrain to add freestyle components. By the end of the weekend we were working on taking those highly skilled variations on turns so that we could make our way to the most enjoyable rollercoaster-esque lines we could find, throwing in various spins to up the ante.

The best part for me was perhaps when one of the most reluctant athletes informed me his spins were improving greatly. This was something I had already noticed but I’m elated he had noticed it as well. So far this season the fundamentals are treating us well, laying a great foundation for what will surely be and excellent season.

Josh Ganz is a snowboarding coach for the Aspen Ski and Snowboard Club. Email him at