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February 8, 2009

Rhythm section landing and jump approach with Tyler Thievin




MWR Pro snocross racer Tyler Thievin was Ski-Doo’s top racer at the World Snowmobile Expo/SnoWest SnoCross last March. Thievin had the track’s back rhythm section down to a science. The track exited a left-hand turn and went into the pair of doubles. We asked Thievin to give us the details on how to land over one big double and immediately hit the ramp for another big double. 


1. In the first picture you can see how I am about mid-flight in the first double. This is where I am spotting my landing and the path that I am going to be taking on the next double. The doubles are so fast that it would be about impossible for me to change my line after landing this first jump, so I am also checking out the ruts and bumps that might throw me before the next jump.

2. Here I am starting to give the sled a little bit of a nose dive. All I am doing here is starting to get the sled into landing position by using throttle/brake adjustments and by shifting my body weight slightly forward. By lightly braking in air the nose of the sled will dive, which is opposite to using the throttle which would bring the track of the sled down. Sometimes it is necessary to use both to get the sled into the position that you want to achieve.

3. Now I am allowing the sled to dive even further. Notice how I am trying to match my sled’s angle with the angle of the landing. This is also the point where I am giving the sled a fair amount of throttle in order to engage my clutch and spin the track so that when I land I will be accelerating. Most of the time in snocross you can really get on the throttle here; however, you don’t want to have the track spinning at full speed in the air. The sled just needs enough throttle so at the instant the track hits the ground you can get on the throttle and accelerate with little or no delay. The reason I am allowing my sled to dive so much is because I know that when I hit the throttle in the air the track will drop once the clutch is engaged and the track starts to spin. This should bring the back of my sled down almost perfectly before the landing. The goal here is to have the sled perfectly parallel to the ground for the landing. Usually the sled lands the smoothest when the skis and track touch at the same time, but my personal preference is to be a little heavy on the nose in the landing rather than heavy on the track. With my sled this close to the ground I have already spotted my landing out and I am now spotting my attack on the next jump. There are a few holes and such after the landing that could throw me around, so I am making sure that I am prepared to pound through them.

4. At this point my skis have touched and my throttle is probably pinned. I am ready to accelerate into the next jump. This second jump needs a fair amount of speed to clear and too much speed won’t hurt on this one. The snow after the landing is not all that rough, and it is possible to land the jump even if you overshoot the landing. Notice how my knees and elbows are slightly bent as I am ready to absorb the landing and the ruts in the snow before the next jump.

5. Now that I have finally landed you can see that I am on the throttle and my track has been spinning. The snow isn’t too rough but with my suspension compressed it is important that I am holding on tight because I am very susceptible to being thrown with any little bump in the snow.

6. As you can see in the next picture, I am in the face of the second jump and my suspension is still compressed. With the landing and second jump so close together, the suspension doesn’t have enough time to fully rebound. When the suspension is compressed like this the travel between the sled and the ground is reduced. This makes the entire landing of the first jump until being airborne in the second jump a really vulnerable time to get tossed around. As long as you are slightly-to-moderately on the throttle and your body is ready to absorb some shock that the sled can’t, the sled will usually stay right on course.

7. If everything goes accordingly we’ll be flyin’ to the next landing with ease.


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