A Very Talented Sideslipper Taken Down (Temporarily)

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I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a very talented and enthusiastic sideslipper at Arapahoe Basin the other day (May 25, I think it was) while snowboarding with this site's co-editor, Gregg Davis. Gregg ran into Jacob in the lift line and as we all rode up together I put a bug in his ear about extreme sideslipping.

You see, it was a beautiful day following an even awesomer day, and I, encouraged by an old buddy who Facebooked me about "spring sideslipping," had gone to A-Basin that day expressly in the hopes of getting some extreme sideslipping content for the site after our long hiatus.

Gregg knew Jacob from a freestyle exam in AASI and I had seen the footage Gregg shot from the event--not only is Jacob a talented rider, but he is also a newly trainer-accredited instructor and a coach for other instructors in New Zealand.

turtle-roll-still.jpgSo I feel like we all bonded pretty instantly on the chairlift, maybe becoming a little too exuberant over this harebrained idea--but that's what snowboarding is all about, right? After a few good laughs about extreme sideslipping ideas, we agreed to shoot some video. We rode the Lenaway lift to the upper mountain, which was glazed like a skating rink as a result of the temperature drop the night before, and put our tools to task getting our sideslip on. I literally had to "get my sideslip on," because with my camera in my hands and worrying about falling on the ice with bare hands, sideslipping at a high rate of speed was about all I could do to keep up with the guys. When I did catch them, I shot some video of Jacob busting out turtle rolls and other tricks while at the same time trying to incorporate sideslipping in the takeoff and landing. After that, we took extreme sideslipping to the park.

Jacob's goal: to sideslip onto and off of the down-flat-down box. (The sideslipping may have been my idea, but the trick was his idea.) And he nailed it as planned--the takeoff in particular, airing onto the box from a clean heelside sideslip and maneuvering the board slide masterfully before sliding off the left side near the end of the feature--and we were psyched to catch the whole thing on video (coming soon).

Unfortunately, the A-frame box was a different matter. On his first attempt (it was en route to the down-flat-down, so why not?) he caught the toe edge in the takeoff and landed prone on top of the box, ending it with a humorous box-hug. The second go-round was less fortunate. He caught the edge in the takeoff and flipped forward onto the box, taking it full in the hip.   Nothing appears to be broken, but it ended in a whole whole lot of hurt and the end to what have would have otherwise been a beautiful day.

"I should have learned my lesson the first time [I ate it on the A-frame]," Jacob told us on his way to the car after the annihilation. All I could do was hang my head. 

Sideslipping is very difficult and technical, especially when applied to high-end tricks. Afterwards, when asking ourselves what went wrong, Jacob's thought was that perhaps the problem lay in in jumping onto an up-sloping feature, since in contrast the down-flat-down box went so well for him. My thought is that we failed miserably at observing the park safety tenet, "Easy Style It," and could have broken our trick down into smaller pieces before taking it to the box. (How do you pop from a sideslip onto an air-on box that slopes upwards?) Whatever you do, however, you've got to keep it flat or slightly on the up-hill edge and not catch that downhill edge in the takeoff.

Following the crash, on our way down, I felt like I owed it to Jacob to sideslip onto a box myself. With some trepidation (because I am usually just the camerawoman) I hit the picnic table in a heelside sideslip and then slid 3/4 of it before getting ejected left. FYI: Sideslipping the picnic table is much easier than the down-flat-down or the A-frame. (I almost always Easy Style It--but of course that might be what separates me, a "pretty okay" rider from the kind of talent that Jacob possesses.)

Anyway, that's how it went down. Stay tuned for the video (to be released later tonight). It's good, bad, and ugly--from many different angles. And remember, sideslipping is not as easy as it's always cracked up to be, so take a hard-learned lesson from us and play it as safe as you can when engaging in the sport of extreme sideslipping.

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