It’s been great to see Aussie well represented at Interski 2019, with three snowboarders flying the flag for our big brother across the Tasman; Kylie, Adam and Oscar.

Yesterday’s on-snow clinic explored how APSI Snowboard have adapted their core concepts to create more versatile instructors with the ability to adjust to any snow conditions the Aussie weather systems can through at them (there’s a writeup of their indoor presentation at the bottom). To highlight this concept they focused on the skill of edging and how they build this skill throughout their Level Two, Level Three and Level Four courses.

Kylie from APSI presenting during the Aussie clinic

Kylie from APSI presenting during the Aussie clinic

Kylie kicked things off today giving and intro then a verbal description of her colleague Adam’s riding, as he made his way carving towards the group – a different start to a clinic which everyone appreciated. They then progressed into some stationary edging tasks to highlight the movement patterns that Aussie encourage in their instructors. Adam used a great environmental teaching tactic here, drawing lines to show how much performance is expected at each level…

The lines indicate the amount of lateral movement expected at the knee

We continued through various carving tasks with different levels of performance, matching their certification standards.

The Level Three riding was nicely spread out creating lots of opportunity to feel the movements described – more on this below. Kylie and Adam did a great job of managing the 30-odd participants and continuously showed demos from both above and below.

Our Reflections

APSI Snowboarding and SBINZ are actually much closer in technique than we realised, particularly at the Level Two standard where a more “steered” turn is required (we call this “edged” in NZ – same, same).

We really like their big focus on setting an early edge through a small inclination movement and being patient before adding any pressuring or steering. We also liked how they save the use of the ankle joint until later in the turn (pulling up the toe slightly on heelside and absorbing pressure when needed on the toeside). Preaching to the choir here one might say!

The differences as far as we can see are as follows:

  1. Aussie use a larger range of vertical movement throughout the heelside turn. This helps to generate performance in the board and is a fundamental concept that they need to see in their candidates.
  2. On the toeside, the Aussie carving demos show the hips moving across the board a little further laterally than we would show in NZ.
  3. At the other end of the spectrum, in the Aussie Level Four they look for a rotational separation between the hips and shoulders.

I personally like the addition of a larger range of movement through the heelside as an option to increase performance at Level Two. However I also prefer the lateral placement of the hips that we use on the toeside in NZ.

Kylie showing rotational separation whilst stationaryThe positive of using rotational separation between the shoulders and hips in the Aussie Level Four carving is that it’s easier to create upper body angulation and match the shoulders to the pitch of the slope. In NZ, we often find this additional movement (upper body angulation) creates an inefficient position in the rider, so this could be a good option to help resolve this issue.

The big difference for us is that our high performance stance focuses more on the hips sliding aft, the chest levering towards the front quad and more on equal rotational separation between shoulders and hips, and the hips and board. Essentially we look for separation at two different points. This allows the rider to create more tail pressure and edge grip throughout the turn.

Overall, I really enjoyed riding with the big crew and seeing the Aussie’s present a solid clinic with good energy and a vibrant delivery. The takeaways above for me are substantial and it’s really great to establish a clearer picture of the subtle differences between the two neighbouring nations.

Aussie Indoor Presentation

At the Australian indoor presentation, Kylie began by recapping the what and why for the edging movements in their system. Note that their main reasons for using this sequence is the lack of trust they have in the quality of snow – much the same as us in NZ.

Oscar then continued to describe how the APSI snowboard core concepts have helped create a solid foundation within young riders which, in turn, has helped their top competitive athletes (we all started somewhere right?!) Aussie have had some great success recently with Scotty James in the pipe, among other athletes, and are proud of their achievements – as they should be!

Download a PDF showing the Australian Athlete Pathway Framework here.

It’s worth noting that in Australia there’s a BIG snowboard competitive junior series in called the Interschools, attracting over 20,000 competitors (ski and snowboard). Obviously, this is a more participation focused series however the top level of riding is high, particularly in SBX (slopestyle was only added recently).

To finish up their presentation Adam discussed the smart phone app that APSI have been working on (originally delivered in a more raw format at the last Interski). It’s certainly come a long way and it has proven to be a valuable tool for instructors. We’ve been given access to a short trial and are looking forward to checking it out (sorry, can’t share that here though).

– By Keith Stubbs