Doing a backflip on skis is a milestone achievement for any freeskier, and it’s a trick that requires more commitment to face our own fears than actual technical skills or ability. We’re going to break down how to do a backflip into smaller steps to help you raise your chances of successful airtime and minimise the risks of injury!
How to do a Backflip (on skis)
Being able to do a backflip, whether on skis or not, has always been a goal for many people. Even just the idea of daring to defy gravity and face the fear of going upside down brings chills of excitement (or total terror) to all of us!
Pre-requirements (very useful but not essential)
Try practising your backflip in a safe environment (i.e. acrobatic gym with trampolines and foam pits). This will give you a better idea of how your body behaves in the air and what to expect when the landing isn’t so soft.
Get yourself a pair of park skis, as they will give you a better pop* in the take-off and help to absorb vibrations when landing.
When you’re ready to start practising on snow, the best way to start is to build a jump off-piste. Ideally, the kicker* should be pretty steep so that the take-off position of our body would be halfway into the rotation already, giving you a headstart. The kicker should also be relatively smooth to provide more speed and momentum as your feet leave the ground.
Technically we can divide the execution into four parts:
- Take off
While approaching the jump, you should flex forward and tuck slightly to keep the body’s pressure on the whole length of the skis. This helps our body react like a spring once we fly off the jump. The take-off is a crucial moment where you have to commit to succeed in the whole rotation.
Once in the air, as you feel the momentum pushing you forward, you should extend both of your legs as you enjoy your time in the air. In the meantime, your head will have started tilting backwards, so ideally, you can see the landing as you unfold the whole movement. Make sure you check your landing now!
While in the air, you can have two different approaches that would suit different kinds of skills:
If it’s your first time or getting accustomed to backflipping, focus on bringing your knees closer to your chest and face to spin more quickly. This will give you more time to check your landing and help you land the jump if you haven’t got massive air.
Once you’re feeling more confident, you can begin to arch your back, leaving your legs straight as you start the rotation. This idea of scratching your back with the tails of your skis is considered more stylish amongst riders. It flows better and definitely makes you feel like you’re really flying! Nonetheless, it requires a greater skill level, confidence and understanding for it to be achieved as it involves slowing down the rotation significantly. As a consequence, there is more airtime.
Avoid closing your eyes. You need to visualise your landing and be aware of your surroundings. To help you predict your landing so that you can let go of your knees and straight up. Sending your feet towards the ground to absorb and lessen the impact.
It’s essential to prepare for the landing earlier than you’d expect to avoid over-rotating. If you do over-rotate, it’s harder to land on your feet, so it may take some practice!
Once you have landed on your feet, it’s time to celebrate! You can then shout so loudly to your friends to encourage them to send it too!
Now you don’t have any excuse, go out, get your friends, build a jump and send it! As we mentioned initially, this trick is all about confidence and believing you can do it. #sendit4newgen! And if you’d like to learn how. todo it with the help of one of our instructors, join us on our Performance & Adventure courses.
Good luck, and have fun out there!
Written by Ettore “X-Ray” Barbero
*pop= the upward elastic reaction of the ski after being put under pressure and then released of such force.
*kicker= a ramp of snow built to execute aerials and tricks in a snowpark
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