Snowboarding is a fabulous way to stay fit and healthy, burning a massive 450 calories per hour and working every major muscle group in the body as well as strengthening the core; even at a relatively novice level.
As you progress and get skilled and faster at ‘regular’ snowboarding you may well be tempted into trying some tricks and stunts, particularly after watching a skilled youngster flipping, jumping and practically flying down the slopes!
There are some basic tricks to get you started, and as your skill level improves the tricks can get bigger and more complex, including two or three elements. Snowboard parks are found at most ski resorts and allow the boarders imagination to reign supreme, with pipes and half pipes and grinding-rails all offering convenient surfaces for stunt performance. Surfers and skateboarders may well recognise the terms used to describe the tricks and stunts – all three sports use the same terms to describe tricks that are the same as far as possible given that they are all performed on different surfaces.
The first trick to try out is an Ollie; basically a little hop where the board is lifted briefly off the ground before a safe landing. The Ollie is the starting point for many more advanced tricks and stunts so learning it well will stand you in good stead. Whenever learning a new trick find a quiet area with not too many people and a gradient that you can manage easily. Prepare for the Ollie by crouching slightly, knees bent, as you move along. Move your weight onto the back foot; then simultaneously lift the front foot while springing off the back foot. Land evenly, both feet down together and continue on your path.
A Shifty looks fabulous, but paradoxically easy, when performed well. Begin much the same as the Ollie, but aim for a bigger jump, looking to gain more air, which will give you more time, not only to complete the manoeuvre, but to get down safely afterwards too. Just before the peak of the leap twist your hips and shoulders to turn the board through 90°, then swiftly back to the right position before landing, and onwards down the slope. This move will require some practise to achieve the effortless grace in the air and smooth landing that makes the trick appear easy, but once mastered is sure to please.
Wheelie or Tail Press
A Wheelie or Tail Press, is almost a precursor to the Ollie, and is an excellent move to try as a confident novice! For this move you need to be moving at a moderate speed, so do be aware of your surrounding and other skiers and boarders. Once moving at a comfortable pace, move your weight to the back foot and lean slightly backwards. Maintain control, as you do not want to tumble over backwards, and raise the front of the board. Once in position, hold it for a few seconds, before allowing the front of the board to go down again.
A Frontside 180 involves skiing along, then with a quick leap and twist, turning so you are still moving along, but are now facing the other way. Preparatory to the trick twist your hips and shoulders slightly so they are facing in the direction of the jump. Raise the front of the board slightly by putting your weight on the back foot and move smoothly into the jump, raising the front of the board slightly before the back of the board – to prevent a graceless head-over-heels sprawl if the front of the board catches on anything.
Maintain tight control for the whole process, and as you come into the peak of the jump allow your body to follow your hips and shoulders, twisting through 180°. Land with both feet together as your back foot is now leading and you are skiing ‘fakie’, or the wrong way around. Repeat until you are comfortable with the trick, and then maybe try and reverse the process, which would obviously be a ‘Backside 180’.
These basics will help you develop and learn on your snowboard, enhancing the experience and keeping you in thrall with the sport for longer. After a time you will find that not only are you physically stronger, more flexible and have more stamina, but your reflexes are honed and concentration is that much sharper! You will find snowboarding can be not only a fun pastime but a training regimen too!