With this year’s Winter Olympics really raising awareness of disciplines such as Slopestyle and Halfpipe, many people are now wondering how they can try these styles out for themselves. The good news is you don’t have to travel far to give it a go, with countless dry slopes and snowdomes around the country offering freestyle lessons, one-on-one coaching and competitions for all ages and abilities. Stick with it and before you know it you could be smashing out those triple corks, backside rodeo 540’s and cab 180’s just like the pros!
The basic requirements for beginning to learn these tricks are that you can confidently perform linked turns on either your skis or your snowboard. You also need to be able to ride switch (backwards for skiers, riding with the opposite leg forward for snowboarders). This takes a lot of practice, but many beginner freestyle lessons focus on helping you to grasp riding switch before they begin to teach you the rest.
Wondering what all this stalefish-fakie-ally-ooping-lincoln-looping means? We’ve broke down some of the freestyle lingo to help you get your head around it all…
Kicker – Another name for either a man-made or natural jump.
Jib – Any obstacle that you can jump on or over eg. Rails, boxes, tree stumps, etc.
Grab – To grab either your board or your skis in the air, using either hand.
Air – Any kind of jump off the ground.
Switch/Fakie – On skis, this is riding backwards. On a snowboard this is riding with the opposite leg forward.
Stalefish Air – A jump in the air, using your rear hand to grab the heel edge of the board between the bindings.
Air-to-Fakie – enter the halfpipe forwards then come back down backwards, without any rotation.
Spin on – A spin before landing on the rail.
Spin out – A spin to exit the rail.
180, 360, 540, 720 – These numbers are the number of degrees in which the skier or boarder rotates. You can perform different moves with varying degrees of rotation, for example backside 180. 180 degrees is half a turn, 360 a full turn, 540 one and a half turns, 720 is two complete rotations, etc.
Lincoln Loop – A flip to the side, almost like a cartwheel with no hands, except the legs are tucked into the body.
A Lincoln Loop
Rodeo – A cross between a flip and a spin. This move is an off-angle backflip, where your feet come over your head at an angle rather than directly above.
Misty – The same as a Rodeo, except you flip forwards instead of back.
Cork – An off-axis spin, where the feet whip round to your side, rather than over your head as they would with a back flip.
In this video, the first move is a Backside Rodeo 540 and the second move is a Backside Corkscrew 540
Backside 180 – 180 degree rotation in the air, turning clockwise for regular and anti-clockwise for goofy.
Ally-Oop – For this trick, as you come up into the air you turn 360 degrees, grabbing your board or skis before landing to face the same way that you started.
How To Frontside Alley-Oop
Freestyle Lessons in the UK
The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead
- Freestyle Fundamentals, Thursdays 7pm-9pm & 8pm-10pm – These sessions aim to get you to grips with the foundations before moving on to the more complex stuff
- Freestyle Coaching Sessions, Thursdays 7pm-9pm & 8pm-10pm – Aimed at those who already have some freestyle experience and who are looking to improve
- Thursday Freestyle 6-10pm – Beginner to Intermediate
- Friday Freestyle 6.30-10.30pm - All abilities
Chill Factore, Manchester
- Home to the UK's longest indoor, real snow freestyle park
- Private Freestyle lessons available
- Introduction to Freestyle Flatland, every other Wednesday 6-8pm – For complete beginners, learn how to ride switch and how to land properly
- Introduction to Freestyle Features, every other Wednesday 6-8pm – Start learning how to hit those jibs
- Junior Freestyle Coaching, Thursdays 6-8pm – For juniors who have already completed the above introductory courses
- Core Freestyle nights are held every other week. Wednesday 4-11pm, Thursday & Friday 7-11pm – All abilities
SnoZone, Milton Keynes & Castleford
- SHRED! Thursdays 7pm-9pm – All abilities
- Freestyle Park Nights Thursdays & Fridays 7-11pm – All abilites
Snow Factor, Renfrew
- Freestyle 1, Age 11-15, Tuesdays 6.45-9.45pm – Learning switch and flatland tricks
- Freestyle 1, Adults, Wednesdays 6.45-9.45pm - Learning switch and flatland tricks
- Freestyle 2, Age 11-15, Tuesdays 6.45-9.45pm – Introduction to park etiquette and riding boxes, rails and kickers
- Freestyle 2, Adult, Wednesdays 6.45-9.45pm – Introduction to park etiquette and riding boxes, rails and kickers
- Freestyle 3, Thursdays on request – Work on filling in your achievement card as your learn new tricks
- Freestyle 4, available on request – Nail all of those tricks you’ve been working on
- Freestyle Nights, Thursdays and Fridays 7-11pm – All abilities
- Board Stiff, Tuesday evenings – A ramp night for experienced freestyle skiers and snowboarders
- Fresh, Saturday evenings - A ramp night with late bar, music and plenty of jibs. This one’s also for the more experienced freestyle skiers and snowboarders
- Snowboard Shred School, Saturdays – All ages and abilities
- Learn to Freestyle in a day - This one’s for snowboarders and includes a full day course with lunch, plus video analysis to help you perfect your technique
In addition to all of these courses, you’ll also find that Maverix Snow, Definition Camps, Salomon Grom Ski Camps and Grounded Freestyle Coaching all offer day courses in freestyle at various snowdomes.
These are not all of the possible freestyle options that you can experience here in the UK – most dry ski slopes also offer freestyle coaching sessions. If you want to learn halfpipe, then you’ll have to venture a little further unfortunately as currently the only UK halfpipe is situated in Cairngorm, Scotland. However, most snowdomes offer quarterpipes which are a good starter to get you learning some of those halfpipe tricks.
Here's a video featuring the Team GB Freestyle athletes to get you feeling inspired. Enjoy!