If you've ever watched snowboarding videos or read snowboarding magazines,
you've probably been inundated with images of freestyle riders performing
exciting and spectacular snowboarding tricks, jumps and spins. So after watching all of those
terror-death moves, your adrenaline starts to race and you can't wait
to catch some big bad air.
However, before you rush out to the
halfpipes or terrain parks you should at least be proficient
in linking turns in intermediate blue runs as described in Your First Turns.
You'll then be ready to work on the maneuvers below.
Riding fakie refers to riding in a backward direction on your board i.e. with your
rear foot leading. This will be one of the most fundamental skills in freestyle
snowboarding which, apart from making you a more complete and versatile rider,
will allow you to perform various spin moves in the air or on the snow.
To develop competence in riding fakie, practice key maneuvers such as
traversing, stopping and turning but instead of leading with your front
foot, lead with your rear foot instead. Persist with developing
confidence and control and practice in various terrains, conditions and
trails until you are comfortable with riding backward.
A tip roll involves flipping or rolling your board over 180 degrees
to change from forward to fakie while the board's tip remains on the snow.
To execute this maneuver, move your weight far forward and lift up
your rear foot so that the tail of your board rises off the ground.
Start with a small lift first before gradually increasing the height.
With the tip of your board still on the ground, practice swinging
the tail until you can swing it all the way around to
the other edge and ride fakie.
Once you are comfortable performing the tip roll from forward to
fakie, practice swinging the board over with the same technique
from fakie back to forward. As always, practice with both edges.
Now it's time to catch your first air. If you have access to a terrain
park, look for structures designed for beginners. Otherwise, find
an area with a few bumps or small berms to jump off from.
Move toward the jump at a low to moderate speed while looking ahead with
your hands in front of you. At the top of the jump, remain balanced
over your board and look straight ahead at all times while you are in flight.
Do not look down! This has a tendency to badly affect your balance
causing you to crash to the ground.
As you prepare to land, keep looking ahead and bend your legs to absorb
the impact of your landing before riding out to search for your next jump.
You can also get some air on a flat ground by performing a maneuver
called the ollie. Shift all of your weight toward the tail of the
board until the tip of your board begins to rise and allow your
board to pop into the air.
As you gain in confidence when jumping, you can grab your board while
in mid-air. Grabbing your board will provide extra stability
in the air while also helping you to perform spins and inversions
more effectively. Plus it just looks so cool!
Make sure you bend your legs to bring the board up to your hand rather than
bending downward to grab your board which can put you off-balance.
Experiment with grabbing various sections of your board with either hand
whether it be the tip, tail, toe edge or heel edge of your board.
Being able to spin in the air will serve as the basis for which other
more advanced freestyle tricks can be performed. Mastering the
technique, however, will take plenty of practice and persistence.
Start by practicing 180 degree spins while on a gentle slope.
While traversing on your toe edge, bend down low and wind your
body up in a direction opposite to your intended direction
Jump straight up and uncoil your body to begin your spin while
using your arms to maintain balance. While spinning, look in
direction you will be spinning and then in the direction you
will land. Bend your knees and absorb the impact while landing
on your heel edge and continue to ride fakie.
As always, practice on both edges and when you can jump and
spin from forward to fakie, practice going from fakie to forward again.
When you've mastered a 180 degree spin, practice doing a full 360
degree spin using the same principles except you'll be moving
in the same direction on the same edge when you land.
As you gain in confidence, gradually increase the size of your jumps and spins.
When you're ready (after much hard work), you'll be ready
to try out your tricks in the park or pipe using various combinations
of jumps, spins and board grabs.