To jump on skis you can just ski off a lip or over a jump fast enough that you take off, but there are techniques to jump higher and get more air time, or to get air where you wouldn't have got any otherwise.
Jumping on skis is a bit different to jumping normally as with ski boots and skis on you cannot move your ankles or lower legs. Because of this jumping has to come from the upper legs and body using the knees and hips to generate the power.
There are 2 different techniques that can be used to get more air when jumping, they are Springing and the Ollie. Springing is more like jumping normally but with using the upper legs and body to spring, whereas the Ollie also uses the flex of the skis to jump even higher. Both techniques can be very effective and can make you jump a lot higher and further, but they each have their strengths and weaknesses.
|Springing||Easy to time, Easy to balance, Quick to learn||Doesn't give you as much air time as the Ollie|
|The Ollie||Maximum air time||Harder to time, Harder to balance, Requires practise|
The Aim of the Techniques
To make ourselves jump, we need to give ourselves as much upwards momentum as possible at the point we want to take off. We do this by throwing our body weight upwards, at the right time. We also want our centre of gravity to be as high as possible as we leave the jump, as this will enable us to get higher into the air. One of the problems with jumping on skis is that skis and ski boots are pretty heavy, and that trying to lift their extra weight into the air is quite difficult, especially since you can't use your ankles or lower legs. Springing doesn't really do anything to try and solve this problem, as it is basically just like trying to jump normally but by using the upper legs and body. The Ollie though raises the skis off the snow before you take off, and uses the skis flex to help throw you into the air. This makes the skis help to lift their weight into the air, so you can jump even higher. Most of the diagrams on this page here use a lip on a piste for the jump, as this is where the techniques being shown will make the biggest difference.
As shown in the diagram here, the more upwards momentum you have as you take off, the higher and further you will go. One thing you might not realise though is that any amount of extra upwards momentum you have when you hit the take off will keep you in the air longer, and make you jump higher. Even if the momentum you have would not take you into the air normally, when skiing off of a lip or jump, it will still make a difference.
Another very important part of jumping is timing, in order to maximize our air time the most, we want to leave the snow just as we hit the lip of the jump. This means that we need to finish pushing on the snow and throwing our weight upwards just as we reach the lip of the jump. As simple as this might sound, it does take practise to get the timing right, especially with the Ollie. As show in the diagram above if we jump too early we will not get as much height and distance as we could, and if we jump too late we will leave the jump with less upwards momentum than we could have had, again leaving us with less air time.
Springing is basically where we compress our body downwards and jump upwards to create the momentum to take us into the air. To spring as we approach the jump we gradually bend our knees and hips to bring our body weight as low as possible. As we are come to the lip of the jump we create the upwards momentum by extending our body upwards, timing it so that we reach the straightest position we can, just as the middle of the skis reach the lip of the jump. This makes us take off just at the right time to get the most air. In the air we then tuck our body up providing we have taken off with good balance, this also brings our skis higher into the air so that it looks better.
With springing there are no overall forwards or backwards movements and our body weight is always kept over the middle of the skis. This makes it easy to balance and leave the jump with no rotating momentum, which keeps us a lot more stable in the air. Even if the spring is miss-timed there should be no major consequences providing that your centre of gravity was kept over the middle of the skis. Because of this springing is generally used when hitting larger jumps or going faster where balance is very important. This said though, you still need to pay good attention to keeping your weight in the right place as you jump, as the jumps themselves can throw you off balance and cause rotations if you are not careful.
The Ollie is where we throw our weight backwards to lift the front of the skis off of the snow, and then jump upwards to take ourselves into the air, springing off of the back of the skis. To Ollie requires more precise timing than springing as there are more movements involved. When we are going to Ollie, as we approach a jump we lean forwards slightly in preparation, then throw our weight backwards. This makes the skis bend and the front of the skis come into the air. Keeping the tips of the skis in the air we then lean forwards again to bring our weight over the point we want to jump off. As soon as our weight comes to the right position we jump upwards and forwards extending our body so that we reach the fully extended position just as the back part of the skis reaches the lip of the jump. We then launch ourselves into the air using the flex in the back of the skis to help spring. When we Ollie although our body's extra velocity at take-off is not straight up, its direction does come straight from our centre of gravity and doesn't cause any rotations.
By bringing the skis centre of gravity above the snow before we jump, and using the spring from the skis to help launch ourselves, the Ollie can make you jump a lot higher than the springing technique. That said timing all of these movements so that you leave the snow at the right time can be quite difficult. That is why the Ollie is generally used at lower speeds, and on jumps where the Ollie is needed to get the amount of air time wanted. If the Ollie is miss-timed it can be easy to have an unwanted rotation as you take off. When hitting kickers in a snow park, the springing method is generally used as amount of air can normally be decided by the speed the jump is hit at, and a miss-timed Ollie on a larger jump could cause some real problems in the air and for landing.
In The Air
In the air we generally tuck our legs up a bit and lean forwards, this is partly to decrease wind resistance and stop it from pushing us off balance, and partly because it makes the skis higher above the snow which makes the jump look more impressive. Tucking the body also keeps more movement in reserve for the landing, allowing you to throw limbs around to put yourself in the right position as you come down if you need to. The longer you are in the air the more important it is to have no rotations from the take off, because if you are in the air for a relatively long time, even a small amount of rotation can have a large effect by the time you come to land. This again is another reason why the springing technique is generally used on larger jumps, as it enables you to keep your balance on take off better, as well as there being no need to Ollie to get extra height.
As we come in to land we extend our body so that we will be able to absorb the force of landing. It is important that we don't become completely straight as we are going to need our knees and hips to bend to absorb the landing. When we come to touching down we try to touch the back of the skis down slightly first as we land, this creates drag from the back of the skis and will turn them into our direction of travel as they land if they have rotated slightly in the air. The skis then come flat to the snow and we compress to absorb the impact bending our knees and hips. As we compress we lean forwards letting our legs come up into our chest to keep our weight over the middle of the skis. We then slowly stand back up and ski off.
If we find we are rotating backwards in the air, we touch the skis down as early as we can to try and stop the rotation and recover.
Jumping Animation - The Ollie
The animation below shows the 3D skier doing an Ollie off of the lip in the Virtual Ski Area's jump piste.
Jumping off of Kickers
A Kicker is a man made jump normally found in a snow park (terrain park), that is shaped specially for jumping and landing smoothly. A Kicker is generally shaped as shown in the diagram, with a ramped take-off, then a flat table top, and a sloped landing area. When hitting a kicker you would normally use the springing technique if you want to get extra height. You need to be careful though, as when you hit the take-off ramp you will need to lean forwards in order to keep your weight over the middle of the skis. If you do not lean forwards your weight will move back and you will rotate backwards with the skis coming up in the air and giving you difficult landing to look forward to.
Kickers can look a bit daunting, as generally you can not see the landing from the run up or take-off ramp, and it is not until you are in mid air that the landing comes into sight. This is something you have to get used to if you are going to jump off of kickers.
A very important part of hitting kickers is to hit them with the right speed. It is your speed that has the most influence over how far you jump so it is important to get it right, if you aren't fast enough or are too fast, you will either under or overshoot the landing, and will land a lot harder than you should. If you realise on the run up that you aren't fast enough you can try to spring harder to get a bit more air, or if you are too fast you can try not to spring at all, but there are limits to how much these will help you. Before hitting a kicker it is always good to watch other people hit them first to work out how fast you need to be.
Racers generally don't want to jump as they only want to go in the shortest direction down the slope, which is rarely through the air. They also need to be in contact with the snow to create the force that pushes them down the slope and fights against their wind resistance. To try not to jump they give themselves as little upwards momentum as possible, by trying keeping their centre of gravity in the same place vertically. They do this by letting their legs and body compress, so that their weight is not thrown upwards. Sometime they also try to jump over the lip of a jump as with jumping too early so that they get as little air as possible.
- Miss-timing the jump, or having your weight in the wrong position causing a rotation
- Choosing to try and Ollie off the wrong jump
- Windmilling - Windmilling is where you throw you arms round in circles like a windmill. This is natural reaction to try and correct your balance if you have left a jump with backwards rotation. This trick here is not to stop yourself from windmilling, but to get your balance right as you take off so that you don't need to windmill.
- Practise springing and the Ollie off of smaller jumps until you are capable and confident enough to try something bigger
- When springing always make sure that you can feel your shins pushing against your ski boots as you take off
- Watch other people hit kickers before you try, so that you can see how fast you need to go, and what you might need to watch out for.
On to the Short Turns section.