With Marmot’s ski season just completed, most people think it’s time to pack away the skis. But not for us at Jasper FreeRide.
It’s Water Ramp training season!
Skiing is not just a winter activity. Have you ever wondered why certain athletes have such great jumping skills? The answer is ”summer water ramp training”. Water Ramp training will greatly enhance your child’s freestyle development.
Why Water Ramp Training?
Water ramp training is now a key freestyle training activity to help athletes develop their jumping skills and is a mandatory requirement for any athlete wanting to train inverted jumps.
Having athletes train on water ramps helps the athletes develop the basic confidence and technique required to properly jump on snow. This unique environment offers several benefits to skiers’ training:
- They can get many more repetitions on a water ramp and develop good jump memory.
- They also focus better on the basic techniques without the fear of a hard snow landing.
- Athletes will get 2 to 3 times more jumps in a day on water ramps than they would typically execute on snow, and the quality is much higher as the athlete is less concerned about the potential of a bad landing.
What Level of Athlete Should Participate?
If the athlete is competing in club comps or provincials in either moguls or slope style, and is competing the jumps in these events, then they can probably benefit from water ramp training. The training will spend a lot of time focusing on the basic “pop” off the jump with straight airs, as this is the most important aspect to master for all jumps. So even if the athlete is only at the spread eagle or twister maneuver stage, water ramps will help their pop, form and lift, and help bring proper technique to snow.
We have all seen our kids spend of lot of time crashing as they learn the to spin 360s. Water ramps become even more important at this level to help kids master this technique. Finally, all inverts must be qualified on water ramps before they snow training is permitted. So if you are considering inverted tricks, water ramps are mandatory.
A good rule of thumb is to project the jump the athlete would like to successfully be competing with high skill in 2 winters from now, and start training this trick this summer with the hope of maybe qualifying it for the 2014–15 snow season.
What Should Be the Athlete’s Goals for Water Ramping & How Often Should They Go?
Every athlete should have a 2 year projection goal around their jumps. It takes a minimum of one summer to develop a new trick, and one full winter before the athlete is fully comfortable and technically competent at competing it. This is why you should think about your future jumping goals and bring this to your water ramping training now. Every athlete hoping to improve their jumping should meet with their coach and discuss their 2 year jump goals so the coaches can best advise on the water ramp requirements to successfully meet these goals. Another rule of thumb is that a young athlete just wanting to get basic jump skills (straight air pops, twister, spreads) should consider a minimum of 4–6 water ramp days. An athlete wanting to fully master 360 spinning and try a few inverted maneuvers should consider 5–10 days. An athlete wanting to train and qualify a new inverted maneuver should consider 10–20 days.
What Does a Water Ramp Day Look Like?
Water ramp sessions are usually held during Whistler Summer ski camp, or in Grand Prairie and Red Deer. These facilities are open most weekends to the public, and will have in-house coaches there to assist. But the Jasper club likes to organize dedicated weekends where we have our own coaches to work with the athletes and provide better continuity in training. If you are ramping for the first time, we recommend that you first attend a scheduled Jasper team session as the coaches will ensure all athletes are safely introduced to the water ramps.
Athletes will often train both trampoline and water ramps on a normal water ramping day. All water ramp facilities will have a trampoline, and trampoline training is key to developing the basic maneuvers. A normal water ramping day will be 4–6 hrs. Athletes may spend 2 hrs on tramp and 3 hrs jumping (and swimming with full gear!). It is very physical with lots of swimming and stair climbing so most experienced athletes will only get 25–30 jumps per day max. A younger athlete will often execute 10–15 jumps & they will sleep well at night.
How Does the Club Organize Water Ramping Training?
The club will publish a water ramp weekend calendar in Spring so families can better plan their summer weekends. The tentative schedule is shown below. Please let coaches know what weekends work best so we can start planning and eliminating weekends with no projected attendance.
The club will provide 1–2 coaches depending on athlete participation level. We’ll typically try to balance training weekends between Red Deer and Grand Prairie to attract more participants, and there are different advantages to both locations. Grand Prairie does allow us to book the ramp privately, giving our team more focused use of the facility.
The club has, in the past, subsidized this training as it is an essential part of freestyle athlete development. The Jasper Board will need to advise on the policy for this year. But a typical water ramping session will cost $50 ramp fees, and $50 coaching per athlete per day. The Board will advise on this year’s cost structure.
What Equipment Is Required?
It is really important that you bring the right gear. You don’t want to get to the facility and not have gear as there is no rental or repair shop,….the repair shop is actually Can Jenkins! You will need the following equipment:
- 2 pairs old skis (between chin and top of head). Wood core skis are best.
- Bindings cranked to maximum DIN settings
- Rope ties on each ski to prevent them from falling to the bottom of the pool if they fall off (we’ll help with this as required)
- Old ski boots (they get pretty nasty),…or you can use old liners with your existing boot shells.
- Full length wet or dry suit for cold days (this will impact how much jumping you are able to do and stay warm)
- Old helmet (ski, kayak or hockey – we’ll show you how to duck tape the ears)
- Neoprene board or fishing gloves
- Life jacket
Really search for find old skies to make this work. They needn’t be anything special and there are no equipment style points in water ramping. If your equipment stays on and lasts the year, you are a winner! Try ski shops who have old rentals to sell, used sporting good stores, and good will. You can often find old equipment at these locations. Other Jasper families may also have old equipment to pass on. If you have questions on equipment, feel free to contact one of the veteran water ramp families or the coaches.
So that is your water ramp primer. I know it sounds crazy to be doing this in the summer, but it really is important training for athletes to develop their jumping skills. It will be worth it when you see your child jump and stick the landing after driving 6 hrs to a winter comp.
ps. Parents can also jump, but it is highly discouraged by us parents not brave enough to try.