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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
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!
Now this may no be everyone's cup of tea, but there isn't much that compares to spending a day flying off a kicker into fresh powder with your friends. Though this is a past time I enjoy I am far from an expert and don't profess to be one.
Cue Ryan Davis, the former Brits winner is renowned for finding killer spots, and styling out the huge kickers he builds. If anyone is qualified to offer up a few resorts it's him.
Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are both growing faster than ever. Gone are the days of purely schussing down the Hahnenkamm or the Face for our thrills, these days winter sports are taking adrenaline levels higher than ever. Though it's easier to head to the snowpark or slalom run, you can't beat a short hike to a secluded spot and hitting natural lines or building your own kicker. Us mere mortals will try and cram as much as possible into our few days on the slopes each year, but there are those who somehow get to do this for a living.
Ryan may not be gracing the front pages of Document Snowboard or Whitelines as often as he used to, but he's happy to share with us his top five resorts for powder kickers. Hey, we might not all be able to float through the air pulling tricks but most of us can still enjoy an afternoon riding white fluffy snow and enjoying the view!
So it's over to Davo.
Ok, so Davo's top powder kicker resorts. Basically a good powder kicker resort consists of two main ingredients. 1 - consistent powder, and 2 - good knowledge of the terrain.
I had to say Morzine is my all time top pow kicker resort because I know it better than any other resort and there are loads of great spots.
So here they are.
Written by Stephen Adam featuring Ryan Davis.
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