Remember that feeling of heart-thudding adrenaline as you bombed down the bunny hill for the first time? If you haven’t had that adrenaline rush since or you’re just bored with the same old groomed runs, maybe it’s time to spice things up and get upside down. City Weekly consulted with Ross Imburgia—who criss-crosses the country with the Line Traveling Circus, documenting some of the most creative and crazy ski tricks—to get tips on two basic moves that’ll up your game.
Backflips aren’t hard, just scary, so being confident is everything. Like any jump trick, it helps if you first practice and master the flip itself on a trampoline to build air awareness and confidence. If you fully commit on the first try, things will work out much better than if you back out midair.
First, find or build a good jump. A good backflip jump will be steep and poppy so that it throws you naturally into the flip. It should be big enough to allow plenty of time to get around and spot your landing.
Before you try the backflip, hit the jump a few times to get comfortable with the approach and speed. You don’t want to come up short and ruin your first attempt.
Approach the jump with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you start to ski up the lip of the jump, crouch and get ready to pop up.
As you take off, pop (or jump) hard with your legs and throw your head and shoulders back to initiate the flip. Keep looking back with your head—this is important!
While you’re still looking back, the landing should come into view. You can adjust the speed of your flip by tucking or extending your legs.
Spot your landing and put your feet down. Let your knees absorb it and ride away—like a boss.
Hit a Rail “Urban Style”
If you learn to hit a rail from the side—as opposed to straight on, from the top—you can start easy and work your way up to higher jumps later on. More and more parks are setting up rails this way, and once you get it down, you’ll probably prefer it.
You should be comfortable with your balance on rails and boxes before you try this. Learning to jump up onto a rail won’t help if you can’t slide it once you get on.
Speed is your friend. The faster you go, the less you’ll have to use your legs to pop up onto the rail. You want to have enough speed to jump over the rail without catching your tips on it.
Approach the rail from whichever side is most comfortable. If you prefer to slide right foot forward, you’ll want to jump from the right-hand side of the rail (skier’s right), and vice versa. Some people like to come at the rail at a slight angle to get centered over it. Just be sure to keep your tips up to avoid catching the rail.
As you ride up the jump, put pressure on your outside ski and use it to push off as you jump and initiate your spin on. Jumping hard and getting your weight over the rail is key!
The most important thing is to get your body centered over the rail. Get your body over and your legs will follow.
Ideally, you should be looking at the end of the rail the whole time, but it’s OK to look down to make sure your tips have cleared. Regardless, as soon as you’re on the rail, look at the end of it. This will help to keep your weight centered and properly balanced.
Slide the length of the rail, pop off and ride away smoothly.