Air to … tailbone. Apart from the fleeting glory of a snapshot, a jump is only as good as its landing. Andwhile most of us focus on the high point of a trick or move, successful landings are the product of viewing theprocess of getting air. More often than not, you land a jump the same way you take off from it-a goodreason to master the basics of riding before leaving the snow.

Take off balanced and composed, land balanced and composed. Take off on the verge of eating it, eat it. During all the phases of a jump (unless youintend to spin in the air), point your board down the fall-line (the direction a ball would roll down the hill) andride flat on its base rather than on an edge-this will maximize your stability and afford you the best chance ofstaying in balance.

Practice keeping your board straight by first riding over the chosen jump without catchingair. Get accustomed to the feeling of pointing your board down the hill from the approach of the jumpthrough the run-out after it. You don’t have to ride fast to get off the ground; in fact, thanks to bindings, youcan learn to jump from a standstill or while gliding slowly down an easy run-simply jump upward, bringingyour knees toward your chest, as if you weren’t on a board at all.

When you’re ready to take flight, make any adjustments in your angle of approach well before reaching the lip of the jump, and focus down the hillon your landing to avoid rotating in the air. Land on both feet for balance and to absorb the shock; ridesmoothly on to your next objective. -Kurt Hoy

Kurt’s a contributing editor for Snowboard Life and teaches snowboarding at the Delaney Snowboard Camps at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Rider: