Whitewater Kayaking as a Way to Prepare for Snowboard Trick Performance

Multiterm AASI Snowboard Team member Matt Larson keeps riding gravity throughout the summer in the mountains of Montana. He says it helps him stay centered in the moment and committed to the action at hand.

In this latest PSIA-AASI National Team Workout Story, he also shares how he pairs paddling with strength and mobility training to bridge the season.

Enjoy more offseason workout insight with AASI Snowboard Team member Cori Lambert, PSIA Alpine Team member Katie White, PSIA Telemark Team member Keith Rodney, PSIA Alpine Team member Kevin Jordan, and AASI Snowboard Team member Lyndsey Stevens.

Q: What’s your go-to offseason workout or outdoor sport, and why is it what you like to do?

A: My go-to summer activity is navigating whitewater. I whitewater kayak and raft. The whitewater environment draws me in because of the mental performance aspect. Similar to riding a park feature, when I drop into a rapid, I’m committed to performing until I’m on the other side. Despite the best planning, things don’t always go the way you want requiring instant adaptation. To accomplish this, I find no other option than to be 100 percent present.

I like floating on the river because I am able to share it with my wife and two daughters. We float together and embark on multiday raft adventures.

Q: Do you teach or compete in this sport, or has it led to any great adventures around the world?

A: I’ve been teaching kayaking and guiding whitewater rafts for 23 years. I’ve had the opportunity to paddle many rivers in the United States and Canada, allowing me to see places that few go. My experience has also led to gigs running whitewater safety for Red Bull athletes. That made for some fun shenanigans!

Q: How does this sport help you set, train for, and reach new goals?

A: Winter sports are an interesting challenge in finding a pathway to progress. I choose to limit my access to sliding on snow to around six months and focus heavily on my family for the other half of the year.

The combo of whitewater coupled with strength and mobility training has given me a bridge between seasons. I incorporate adaptations of snowboarding tricks into my mobility workouts to help teach my body what it needs to do. This jump-starts me for the following winter season as I work to pick up where I left off.

Q: What can you take away from this sport that can be applied to your work on snow?

A: Purposeful warm-up in a controlled environment pays big in reducing injury and helping me perform at a higher level than I would if I hadn’t.

Q: How does this sport prepare you mentally for your work on snow?

A: First, It reinforces my internal dialogue: “I’m here. Now it’s time to do what I know how to do.” I also find confidence that my body can move the way I want it to because I’m frequently asking it to do so.

Q: Do you have any other fun summer plans or good offseason reading suggestions you’d like to share?

A: I plan to get lost whenever I can, on river trips and camping. Going off grid really helps my mental health.