Want to freestyle like Ben Kilner (pictured above)? Ready to learn some freestyle tricks? Lessons start here with Faye Young, our contributing snowboard editor, and Billy Cockrell, sponsored Brit rider. Your homework is to study hard - and go practise on the snow.
It's easy to get ahead of yourself and aim to hit the biggest jump. But, if you are serious about learning freestyle then you need to master the basics or you will struggle to progress quickly. You don't need a jump to learn these; just try them out when you're next on the piste. Take the time to learn these simple tricks and you will be well on your way to being confident hitting features in the park.
Freestyle rider, Billy Cockrell, demonstrates the first three tricks in the series. Billy, is no stranger to rail tricks and big air spins. When he's not travelling around Europe training and competing you will find him at his local dome SnoZone, Castleford.
To begin with you won't really need to change your stance but it does help to adjust it if you want to progress. A popular choice is the duck foot stance which means both your feet point out at the same angles. It makes it a lot easier when landing switch and trying spins.
This is a really important trick to learn. You ollie when you take off from jumps and, also, when hitting rails and boxes.
- Find a nice easy part of the slope,
- Start riding along at a speed you are comfortable with.
- Next you want to bend your knees and crouch towards the ground, then shift your weight over your back foot and push up from there.
- The front of your board should leave the ground first.
- You will spring up from the tail of your board and you want to bring your back foot up now so your board is parallel with the ground.
- Suck your knees up towards your body to help give you a bit of extra height.
- Relax your arms and extend your legs as you come down to land. keep your board pointing down the hill and you should land with both feet on the ground at the same time.
Keep practising and you will soon start popping some nice high ollies and this will really benefit you in the long run and make the next tricks you learn a whole lot easier.
2) RIDING SWITCH
You will have to spend hours learning to ride switch (back foot leading) because it does take a lot of time to get used to and feels really strange. You won't master it in a day but a good thing to do is every time you go snowboarding set yourself a goal of doing at least one section of a run switch. When you move onto learning 180s on small side hits, jumps or off a box you will be prepared for how it feels and have more chance of landing the trick.
- Start on a nice open bit of slope that you find easy to ride when you're regular.
- Just relax and try to mirror everything you do when riding regular and you will eventually get the feel for it.
- When riding switch you also want to try and exaggerate your movements because when you exaggerate things in switch it is likely to be actually just the same as when you ride comfortably in regular.
Learning 180s on the flat piste is really helpful, you have to emphasise all of the motions more than you would on a kicker because you won't be going very high off the ground. That is a good thing. though. because if you can get the motion correct on the flat and create your own pop then it will benefit you when you move onto hitting rails because you won't clip them with your board. Your ollies will really help you out with this trick as you will already know how to pop off the ground and it's just a case of adding in a small rotation.
- You will find either frontside or backside spins easier.
- With a frontside spin you can see your take off but will be landing blind whereas a backside spin means you take off blind but can spot your landing easier.
- Winding your arms up behind you before you take off will help you initiate the spin properly.
- Someone once described it to me as 'lifting a sack of potatoes up from your tail to your nose' and it is surprisingly similar!
Build these three tricks up and get to a point where you are comfortable doing all of them and you will have given yourself a really good head start in freestyle riding. Be sure you take the time to master all of them and you will make things a lot easier for yourself when you move onto the next level of tricks. There will be some more helpful basics and, also, some progressively difficult rail tricks to learn during the season.
BILLY'S SET UP:
BOARD: Smokin Hooligan 152cm
BINDINGS Union Force
BOOTS : Adidas Samba
HELMET: Smith Maze
GOGGLES: Melon Jackson
STANCE: +15 -15
Catch this video of Billy riding in Austria, last season.