Saying you’re “adept” at a winter snow sport could mean one of two things. It could mean that you are competent, able to make it down the mountain without falling or lagging too far behind your ski partners, or it could mean you’re incredible – a tricking snow god who sticks to the most challenging runs on commercial mountains and skis backcountry every chance he gets. If you’re a member of the second camp, you’re probably pretty satisfied with yourself and your extreme persona, as you should be. If you’re in the first, teetering on the precipice of advanced but continuously pulled back into the ranks of lowly intermediate life, you’ll need to learn some tricks to make the proverbial jump up in pay grade.
Trick as you may, you’re not going to be pulling backflips and 720s off the bat. You’ll need to start a little smaller, perhaps with the very moves we’ve outlined below.
This one is usually the first trick added to a skier’s arsenal. It achieves a strong visual impact, makes the practitioner feel rad and it’s not very difficult to pull off. As you can see in the video, the crux of the move involves your spreading your arms and legs while airborne so that you make an “X” shape with your body. Once you’ve got a decent sense of on-skis balance, this is a trick with which intermediates can experiment very easily. Just remember: Keep your arms and legs as stiff as possible. Otherwise it’ll look like you’re out of control and no one will be impressed by that.
You’re still working with your legs here but the whole maneuver is tougher than the spread eagle because it’s more physically taxing. Whereas the spread eagle requires a relatively limited range of motion (splaying legs and arms to either side) and allows for quick, pre-landing recovery, the Daffy is a step above. Essentially a front split, a successfully executed Daffy demands that its practitioner fully extend one leg forwards and one leg backwards, a difficult feat even without 20 pounds of equipment buckled to your limbs. Make sure you’re nice and limber before trying this. Also, be sure you’ve grabbed some big air – nasty falls are all too common if not.
Like the spread eagle, this trick looks the way it sounds. To pull it off, you must cross your skis into an “X” shape. That’s it. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, in the grand scheme of things, yes, it is. But in the world of beginning ski tricks, this is one of the more complex, and here’s why: Beyond your need to grab big air, crossing your skis can quickly and easily lead to disaster. In order to achieve an iron cross, your timing and coordination need to be top flight. Anyone who’s ever had their skis overlap involuntarily – even a tiny bit – while traversing a tough trail knows that the ensuing tangle can make for a painful tumble. Imagine the kind of damage a full-on cross could do.
We’re slowly but surely making our way to the more advanced end of the beginner trick spectrum and the tail grab is indisputably in that upper echelon. Like the iron cross, it’s a staple in every pro’s arsenal and a brilliant add-on to so many more advanced moves. Even on its own, though, it’s a calling card for breakout stars looking to gain respect on the slopes they’ve only recently come to conquer. Our only word of advice: Be sure to let go of your blades in time to land. Yes, we know it’s awesome to hold them until right before, but not so awesome if you face plant.
Landing a 180 is like graduating from college. It’s a monumental achievement you’ll remember for your entire life and, though it’s not as big a deal as landing your first combo 360/iron cross or tail grab, completing it signifies a movement out of the ranks of the beginning trickster and into a more seasoned community of intermediate skiers Tricking prowess aside, if you’re pulling 180′s, you’ve managed to achieve a level of balance, coordination, and overall terrain awareness that certainly earns you the title of advanced overall skier. From there, experimentation becomes fun instead of daunting. The (snow) world is yours.
Cover Photo Credit: tpower1978 - flickr.com