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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!
As you may be aware from a news piece posted in the summer the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are considering adding Slopestyle to the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi. This has been partly fuelled by the success of the Halfpipe over the past three events but also by the desire of the snowsports community to see snowboard and freestyle skiing's ever popular discipline included.
With this in mind it appears that one of the most influential figures in world snowboarding and co-founder of the TTR World Snowboard Tour, Terje Haakonsen, has written to the IOC to discuss the state of slopestyle and the effective implementation of the spectacle within the next Winter Olympics. One of the reasons this open letter is so newsworthy is due to Terje's past, as he famously boycotted the first ever Winter Olympic Halfpipe event back in 1998 after the IOC handed control of the event from the snowboarder-run ISF to the skier-run FIS.
It now appears the hugely influential character wishes to work with Jacques Rogge, the President of the IOC, to bring Slopestyle to the world famous event as successfully as possible.
Letter to the editor:
As the Olympic slopestyle/snowboarding discussion is peaking, it is time to cast some light on this defining topic for the future of competitive snowboarding. This upcoming weekend, the ski federation FIS introduces slopestyle to their program, on the same weekend as the best slopestyle riders are competing in the Dew Tour. And the IOC is about to decide if they will include slopestyle in the next Olympic program or not. Some remarkable events have taken place in the last year. Let us recap:
After the extraordinary TV rating success of the Vancouver halfpipe contest, top cats from the IOC and NBC saw the potential in expanding the snowboarding program at the next Olympics. Seeing the golden boy Shaun White go double at the next winter Olympics (Sochi 2014) would be a ratings wet dream. In the fall of 2009, USA, Canada and New Zealand had prepared a proposition for the ski federation FIS’s annual congress in Turkey, June 2010. The idea was to prepare slopestyle for the 2018 Olympics by introducing it at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships, as the IOC requires two successful World Championships before considering new sports for future games.
By then, the FIS delegates were euphoric at the hysteria that followed the snowboarding events in Vancouver. They decided to speed up the process, bypassing the existing requirements, by submitting an application to the IOC immediately – before slopestyle had been tried out at a single FIS world championships. It is reasonable to imagine they felt confident that the IOC would react positively to this application.
The only problem was that IOC had a lot on their plate at their next meeting, in Acapulco in October. The most disturbing topic was women ski jumping; a nightmare for the Olympic movement. Women ski jumpers have been fighting for years to enter the Olympics, but have faced serious opposition both within FIS and the IOC. Many believe women ski jumping (including members of the sports media) does not have enough participants, is low on quality and does not have the necessary international reach as a sport to be a credible Olympic event. Women ski jumpers had sued the IOC before the Vancouver Olympics for discrimination, but were ruled against by the Canadian legal system.
Allowing snowboard slopestyle (as well as twintip ski halfpipe and slopestyle) before solving the women ski jumping issue probably made the choice impossible for IOC. Rather than accepting some applications from some sports and denying others, they made one statement for all: We will wait and see the quality of the sports at the upcoming world championships. FIS has several world championships coming up this season, among them the Nordic Ski World Championships in Oslo, the Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain and the Freestyle World Championships in Deer Valley and Park City.
The only problem about this from a snowboarding perspective is that neither Molina nor Deer Valley/Park City had planned for a slopestyle! Even worse, Deer Valley actively bans snowboarding on a general basis and they do not have a terrain park. In Norway, where the snowboard federation is independent of FIS, and are part owners of the TTR/WSF World Snowboarding Championships in 2012, this whole situation culminated in a public debate. IOC executive board member Gerhard Heiberg admitted that IOC wanted to check out more than just FIS events when deciding upon the quality of slopestyle. As FIS did not have slopestyle on their Olympic program, this opened up for a new scenario in the debate: if the IOC could look at non-FIS events, could they also approve these events as qualifiers for the Olympics?
Everyone working with top level snowboarding contest knows how much the date conflicts in Olympic qualifying years is hurting the sport. This has been bad before, but in 2013, when riders are qualifying for both halfpipe and slopestyle, it has the potential to be a nightmare. And this is the fundamental problem of competitive snowboarding: it will never reap its full potential before the Olympic issue is solved. Snowboarding is not a 4 year cycle event. It is a daily operation where progress is happening in all corners of the world – summer, winter, spring and fall. At the moment, the Olympic halfpipe finals is only good for the podium winners, the IOC and the broadcasters. It does not help the sport as a whole.
The potential for date conflict is the most apparent problem. This was cruelly exposed when FIS all of a sudden decided to include slopestyle on the program at the La Molina Snowboarding World Championships – a mere two months before the event! This was obviously a move to impress the IOC before the slopestyle decision was made, but it was not a good move for the sport: the slopestyle contest in Molina happens on exactly the same dates as the Dew Tour stop in Killington. All Dew Tour riders, being the best slopestyle riders in the world, have been already committed to these events, meaning the FIS World Champion in slopestyle (and in halfpipe for that matter) will be crowned without the best riders attending.
Competitive snowboarding has fantastic potential. Right now, judging formats, slope design, prize money, TV production/distribution and rider services are progressing fast in TTR, X Games and Dew Tour events. These are the best events in the world. But they are outside the Olympic family. As the organizers as the biggest winter sports event in the world, we believe that the IOC holds a corporate responsibility for ensuring a workable solution for the sport. This will not only realise the potential of the sport, but also fast-track the quality of snowboarding contests at the Olympics. All of us, including event organizers, FIS, IOC and federations, should find a solution for the better good of the sport. Otherwise, the riders will be the main losers. They will be forced into making impossible choices between conflicting events in 2013 – on any given weekend throughout the season.
We believe a good solution could be a common Olympic ranking, not sanctioned by FIS or TTR, but a joint ranking list based on results from the best events in the world. By embracing this, the IOC would take a credible position for the youth of the world and take charge in the ongoing action sports revolution. We are willing to talk to find a good solution for the sport. But we are also willing to keep fighting for snowboarding like we have done for over a decade. The Olympic system for snowboarding is wrong; preserving the status quo is not an option.
Terje Haakonsen Henning Andersen Owner and organiser of The Arctic Challenge
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