Dropping in on a halfpipe is way easier said than done. It is an extremely difficult thing to do especially on vert ramps. Once a skater has a lot of experience with riding transitions- it becomes like riding a bike and very natural. That initial step forward on your skateboard to roll down a long mountainous ramp can be very intimidating.
Shaun White, winner of the 2010 Olympic Men’s Snowboarding Halfpipe, understands the physics of any halfpipe to the extreme. The amount of air he was getting out of that bowl was incredible. Everything he was doing, was higher, taller and better than the others…hence, why the gold went to him!
Dropping in on a halfpipe with a snowboard is very different from that of a skateboard. With a skateboard, you are not attached! If you fall, there is no cushion like snow! To drop in on a ramp has everything to do with how you shift your upper body weight. It sounds funny and odd, but that is honestly how it all is done. Shifting your weight around is exactly how Shaun White was able to get 15+ feet in the air out of the ramp. The knees need to be bent as you go down each transition or slope of the ramp. As you approach the middle or flat section, you no longer need to bend the knees. While you roll down each slope, its very vital to push off each side as you ride the skateboard. Again, this is simply done with shifting the body weight.
We have a mini ramp- 3.5 ft tall halfpipe- set up in our warehouse of OC RAMPS. The other day, we had a customer come by to try it out. He was older and never skated before. The concept of him shifting his weight was completely foreign. It takes practice. Soon enough, it will make sense and from that moment forward, he will understand and never forget how to ride a halfpipe. Its like riding a bike! Once you get it, you know and remember.
Going back again to Shaun White on his mega ramp- there were several competitors riding that same exact ramp. They were of roughly the same age, height and weight–yet each rider got a different amount of air out of the ramp. It all points to altering your body weight in your favor.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to skate at the Van’s skate park in Orange, California. It was an amazing skateboard park. So many variations of ramps, rails, grind boxes, ledges, etc. My background is in mini ramps; but I always wanted to drop in on the mega vert ramp at Vans. The ramp is 13 feet tall, with a 5 foot extension drop in location- making the ramp 18 feet at it’s tallest point. After looking down the ramp and being afraid of falling in, I decided to go for the extension. The drop in extension was a little bit more mellow of a slope–but you were higher. To amp myself up, I played Metallica and Slayer in my head. Then came the moment to drop in, I rode down that face like a bat out of hell. I felt as though I was flying down the ramp…until I hit the middle or flat section–then I got speed wobbles! My knees were NOT bent going down, they were shaking and of no help! As I approached the other side of the transition, my knees were way to stiff and I hit the slope as if it were a 13 foot tall concrete wall. One hip contusion and2 broken wrists later…I learned the importance of bending your knees and shifting your weight!!!