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Nose Butter 360, Switch Rodeo, 720 Truckdriver – listening to young skiers and snowboarders can be quite confusing. The normal winter sportsman gets really dizzy at the latest with the jumps that freestylers make in the snowpark. But no matter what you call the tricks – they are always impressive. For SPORTaktiv, the winter sports booking platform CheckYeti.com with snowboard instructor Chris Schnabel was in the fun park to show that you don’t have to be a fearless extreme sportsman for basic jumps.
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One thing is a prerequisite: if you want to make cool jumps as a snowboarder, you have to be trained on the piste. In addition, you should have the right equipment – comfortable boots, the right bindings and a soft freestyle board are extremely helpful. “The more pop the board has, the better” explains Chris, meaning that the snowboard should support the jumping movement of the knees thanks to its soft preload. It’s also clear that safety always comes first! That means: Without helmet and back protector the experienced snowboard instructor doesn’t take anybody to the fun park! And it goes without saying that the applicable park rules must be observed there.
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Before you try your first simple freestyle tricks at least once in theory (and hopefully also in practice in a fun park), our CheckYeti professional Christian Schnabel will give you some good tips. First of all, as a motivation boost, the principle: “Everyone with a certain basic technique, good balance and a calm look can make a cool figure in the park”. And then there are the three rules of thumb that apply to freestyle: “First: The gaze guides the trick. Second: to dose the speed correctly. And third: Always look at the landing. It’s even more important than the kicker.”
And we already learn the first trick – right on the piste: Put weight on the front leg, go to your knees and combine the pop from the board with a jump from your knees – and you make an “Ollie”. This standing jump is a basic movement on which many later tricks build. It is important that the eyes calmly aim at the landing from the beginning and that the upper body supports the movement of the legs with the arms. This is especially true if you want to vary the movement, for example with a “one-eighty”, i.e. half a turn while standing.
“These two movements – the Ollie and the One-Eighty – you have to practice, practice, practice. Because you’ll need them a lot more.”
The first attempts in the Funpark are best made on a straight, wide “Flatbox”. And you start with a “50/50”: The snowboarder rides straight and keeps the snowboard flat on the box under even load. “Speed it up a bit and keep the board absolutely straight,” says Christian – but don’t edge it up with your toes or heel! A simple but cool variation of the “50/50” on the flatbox is the Tailpress (picture right), where you shift the weight to the back and lift the front of the board (the “nose”). Beginners often have the center of gravity too far back with the 50/50 board slide.
Professional tip: “Be careful not to slip over the backside. Get on your knees and lean forward a bit.”
This is where rotation comes in! As soon as the 50/50 is practiced and also variations like the tailpress work, it’s time for the next trick: the Backside Boardslide. You put the board crosswise and slide your face forward over the box. “To get a feel for it, you can practice the trick with two friends by letting them pull you over the box while you cross the snowboard,” advises Chris.
If you dare, try a Frontside Boardslide as a variant of the Backside – i.e. with your back to the direction of travel (picture). The challenge: You can’t see the landing during the slide phase.
Snowboarding’s dead? These 5 trends make snowboarding immortal
Like all winter sports, snowboarding also faces great challenges: Climate change, a lack of young talent and increased costs for exercising the sport are just a few of them. In addition, there is the changing leisure behaviour of Generation Y, in which the smartphone screen often exerts a much greater attraction than sports such as snowboarding.
Nevertheless, there is reason for hope: A gripping instagram video of Travis Rice and his friends Brian Iguchi, for example, can be an initial spark for the Digital Natives to plunge into the adventure of snowboarding. The conditions for this were never better than today! Why this is so, I would like to explain with the following five snowboard trends.
1. Grassroot events enliven the Spirit
With the revival of the Banked Slalom, a primeval discipline of snowboarding, you will once again clearly stand out from other winter sports events. These fun events unite the snowboard family, because here start riders of all generations – from beginners to pro riders.
Many of these events are not only pure competitions, but rather a gathering of like-minded people to celebrate the snowboard culture. Barbecue sessions, concerts and family parties are a good breeding ground to revive the snowboard spirit.
2. The carving revival
Due to the steep trend towards “higher, faster, further” snowboarding had lost its grip in the past years. What brands communicated in their advertisements and video clips was hardly comprehensible for many non-snowboarders and potential new snowboarders.
With the revival of carving, which focuses on the game with centrifugal force and the associated unique snowboard feeling, snowboarding is once again approaching. Snowboarding takes place on the ground and not in the air for the majority of active people.
As positive and emotional as this is communicated by many snowboard brands, the chances are not bad that even fearful and sceptical parents understand that snowboarding is not more dangerous than skiing, but a lot of fun.
3. Splitboarding expands the spectrum
I know some snowboarders of the first generation who have swapped boards for two boards with increasing age and were looking for a new challenge in ski touring. But since splitboarding has established itself more and more as a popular segment in snowboarding, riders of the age group 40+ have also remained true to board sports.
Splitboarding is also fully in line with the trend of the “Active Outdoor Lifestyle”, which is particularly popular in this age group. And what’s more, splitboarding offers the snowboarding industry and the trade a wide range of cross-selling opportunities: from high-quality technical clothing to a wide range of safety products. In a stagnating market, there are opportunities for growth, albeit on a small scale.
4. Snowboarding stands for innovation
There is no standstill in snowboarding. Thanks to the high density of creative minds in the development kitchens of the board forges, the spectrum of new shapes is continuously expanding.
The industry does not shy away from looking back at the beginnings of snowboarding and is inspired by old forms and related sports such as surfing when developing modern board designs.
In combination with modern manufacturing processes and technologies, so many innovative boardshapes are created. Boards that are ideally suited for the most varied forms of gliding in the snow and above all promote one thing: fun on the mountain. Whether handmade Powsurfers from Äsmo, Fishboards with good all-round characteristics from K2, Burton, Capita, Lib Tech, Ride and Nitro or balanced Allround Shapes from Amplid, Rome, Korua, Salomon and Nidecker: Thanks to perfectly tuned boards, the conditions for learning snowboarding quickly and with a lot of fun were never better than today.
In addition, there are innovative approaches for more comfort when getting into the binding, such as the speed entry systems from Flow, SP, Völkl and K2, among others, as well as the newly developed step-on binding from Burton. There is therefore no longer any reason even for comfortable or older winter sports enthusiasts not to start snowboarding!
5. Snowboarding focuses on sustainability
The sustainable production of winter sports products is a major challenge. It’s encouraging to see how seriously and purposefully the snowboard industry is dedicated to sustainability.
Two examples: In November 2015, the US brand Capita built the world’s largest and probably most modern snowboard factory in Feistritz an der Gail, Austria. The operation of the factory, which was christened “Mothership” is 100 percent CO2-neutral.
All the electricity required for production is generated from the company’s own hydroelectric power plant. The production of snowboards also relies on water-based paints, vegetable resins and less solvents. Capita MFG GmbH not only produces boards for its own label, but also manufactures snowboards for many other well-known brands. A concept that should inspire the ski industry! After all, in the past they were happy to do so when it came to shapes, technologies or competition disciplines.
What applies to hardware also applies to snowboard clothing. The industry leader Burton is a pioneer in this field and is on the verge of producing all textiles according to the strict bluesign standard. In addition, the down jackets are made exclusively from feathers from 100 percent responsible poultry farming. Production according to these strict sustainability standards can be an inspiration for the entire industry.
Conclusion: Long live snowboarding!
Even though the sales figures and growth rates in the snowboard industry in recent years have given little cause for celebration, the developments mentioned above are a positive signal for me. They should encourage the entire industry to pursue the path it has taken with the necessary foresight.