To describe a ‘stomp’, we first have to visit the steps a skier or snowboarder must take before presented with the opportunity to stomp.
Spend enough time riding on top of frozen water on wooden planks strapped to your feet and you will inevitably encounter some choices that boil down to this: go around or take flight.
This is also known as answering the call of the ‘send’, and to pick up that call is a staple of the skiing mental game that crosses the minds of riders, either as an encouraging ‘send it!’ or a self-assured, sometimes doubtful: “I’m gonna send it”. Then, there’s ‘stomping it’, a term used to describe a clean landing and exit after a send. Stomping it with conviction and poise is part of the gold standard off which stoke, both personal and from your friends is based. In this article, we will focus on this part of the send. We talked to a backcountry skier about the mental side of the stomp and a snowboarder with an affinity for airtime about the physical steps he takes to raise the chances of a stomp.
Christian Bang Jensen (Danish Skier)
"To set up the scene for you, I’ll first talk about the approach to a face and accessing conditions for a send which will hopefully follow in a stomp. Making your way to the summit, sometimes in rough conditions with high winds always makes you a bit nervous. Finally getting to the top and transitioning to downhill mode is part relief and part escalated nerves.
Your first thoughts are usually, “Is this too steep or advanced for my level of skiing?” Simultaneously, the thoughts of snowpack safety and snow quality cross your mind. Sometimes you’re facing a cruiser powder playground and other times you have pedal to the metal, high-risk freeriding in sharky (rocks with shark-fin edges hidden under the snow) or technical terrain.
Then, you must think about how to ride the face. It is one thing to study the face from the bottom or from photos and another thing to be sitting on top of the line with the ski tips hanging over the void. Stepping out of the comfort zone, being creative, and riding with style are part of the joys of skiing. You need to push the limits but at the same time, be aware of how hard to push. Once you’ve psyched yourself for the line, call your ‘drop in’ so your friends at the top and/or bottom can hear it. Now there’s no turning back.
When you spot the feature you want to air off, start the approach, scrub speed if needed, and be aware of your centre (of gravity) to find that coveted air time and complete zen. The final steps leading to the stomp are springing off the takeoff to give yourself a bit more hang time and then flying, first skywards and then down to earth. All that hiking, study of the face, and creativity comes together into a feeling that is hard to describe. In these moments, the world falls away to the immediate experience. This is truly living in the now, nothing else matters.
Adrenaline courses through the veins but you are unaffected by the jitters, everything is pure screaming joy. Kick out that landing gear with a slight bend in the knees to absorb the shock of impact with the powerful leg muscles and hips, while being careful not to be fully extended.
In a perfect landing, a slight drag of the backs of the skis will help straighten them if they have shifted in flight, which will then transition onto a centered landing, allowing the skis and body to flex as a system to take in force. Then, you can ride out at full bore screaming with the wind, adrenaline and endorphins firing at full gas through the body. It is truly the best feeling in the world. Final step: Ride out to the fist bumps and collective excitement at the bottom of the face. THAT is stomping it."
Sam Klomp (Dutch Snowboarder)
"Everyone has a different way to describe the feeling and the process: stomping, sending, flying, mad airtime, or raving, but it all comes down to getting that feeling of being weightless and invincible for a few seconds. Here are a few tips that help me achieve mad air while looking as graceful as a butterfly landing on that beautiful flower in the garden while you were enjoying that ice-cold beverage on a midsummer evening. Once you find the feature to jump off, there is no coming back.
One of the most important things one must do is committing one hundred percent to ‘floating like a butterfly’. On the run into the launchpad, make sure to point the board straight and flex those knees and ankles to create a decent amount of pop. This will add some height to whatever you are jumping off of, giving you a better chance of getting “mad hang time,” which is that feeling where your launch force and gravity are equalised; that addicting moment between flying and falling.
While in the air, tuck those knees in, look at the landing, not your board and softly whisper, “I am the best snowboarder alive” to yourself, which will help the ‘staying committed’ part. Align your board to land centered while in the air, because once its wheels down, it will be much easier to stomp if you are squared off instead of riding the back leg or tomahawking.
The landing will be nice and soft in the powder, but still try to absorb as much as possible with the knees and ankles unless spinal compression or a knee to the face is your thing.
Many riders forget that riding away after the stomping is almost as important as stomping it. After a successful (centred) touchdown, absorbing the impact of falling to the earth at nine-point-eight metres per second per second, ride away in a straight line to maintain balance. Make sure not to show your emotions for extra steeze-points. Now is the time to finish the phrase starting with ‘float like a butterfly…’. If there is space and you are comfortable enough, please feel free to make a few aggressive slashes, rips and sprays to ‘sting like a bee’."
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