The Mayor's tips for stomping a cliff
© freerideworldtour.com / J. Bernard
Getting airborne when attached to skis is a beautiful thing and possibly one of the most liberating feelings in the world. But before you let your tips leave the takeoff-zone and enter the vast airspace, you need some guidance. That's why we sat down with Freeride World Tour competitor Reine Barkered.
Reine is nicknamed "The Mayor of Stomptown" for one simple reason: he stomps big cliffs.
Reine, enlighten us.
Stomphack #1: Learn the basics
The more drops you do, the more confident you feel, Both physically and mentally.
My advice is that you find a cliff which you feel at ease with. Preferably one with the opportunity to choose how big you want to go. That way you can start smaller and then scale it up. Always make sure every safety precaution that can be made are accounted for. For example, you'll probably want to check the landing first to control the snow and get a chance to scope out potential dangers.
Once it's time to get sendy, make sure you point your skis straight down the line. Sometimes your brain will convince you that the drop you're about to hit will go better if you redirect your line to slightly angled. When this happens: IGNORE! You'll be better off going straight down since the colossal forces of impact are easier to handle in the fall line. It might seem scary, but trust me on this one.
During takeoff, you'll want to pop from the cliff rather than sneaking your way down to reduce height. This will make your control in mid-air way easier to manage. You'll go bigger, it'll look cooler, and you'll have a way more convenient flight than any of the airlines could ever offer.
Focus on the landing and keep your arms pointed forward just like downhill-skiers.
We're about to land: extend your body, meet the landing instead of letting the landing meet you.
Backslaps? No thank you! Your mind will tell you to lean back on impact, don't trust it. It'll lead you to slap your back and letting the cliff win. You'll want to center your weight and focus on distributing the impact on as much ski-surface as possible. If you succeed in doing so, your chances of stomping it just increased big time. And if not, you'll 'frontpunch' and tomahawk for a second or two. It may sound scarier, but this way of crashing is way better than backslapping as your body takes less damage from going forward rather than backward.
After you've cleared your drop, pat yourself on the shoulder and do it again, and again, and then a hundred times more.
Stomphack #2: Pick your battles
All cliffs aren't meant to be dropped. As you've realized by now, practice makes perfect. And if repetition is critical, you have to adjust your send-levels accordingly. Your body will get more used to the daily rehab-exercises than airtime if you choose to practice your skills on a 25-meter+ cliff.
We all want to stay in the game for as long as we can. You might be able to expose yourself to more risks in your younger days, but trust me: your older self along with your worn out back wont be to stoked about that.
However, if you really want to go big, make sure the landing is steep enough. A wise Norwegian once said you could stomp anything under 25 meters as long as the landing is steep as hell
€#"€(% 25 meters €#"#!€%@£$ No problem!! £©∞@±|§???
Stomphacks #3: Aftermath
What happens after you've landed?
There are many more factors that go into getting airborne, and the outrun is a vital part. It's SUPERimportant to plan where you'll go with all your speed after landing.
One thing you have to figure out before leaving the ground is: what happens if I don't stomp? There might be rocks further down which you have to avoid, the snow might be unstable and cause an avalanche, or maybe you won't be able to reduce your speed before you hit a tree. One thing I see all too often is chargers not slowing down soon enough after a drop. If you don't initiate your first turn in the first 20 meters after landing, you'll have a hard time shutting down your speed, which is crucial if you have a dangerous object below.
Personally, I prefer a wide outrun with minimal risks of injuring yourself if you'd tomahawk down the next 100 meters. However, that's not always an option on the Freeride World Tour.