by Rob Pirog
Snowboarding isn’t just about riding down the hill. It’s about riding down the hill and having as much fun as you possibly can. Here are some easy and fun freestyle moves, that you can take just about anywhere on the hill.
Static Nose/Tail Presses
Starting off on a flat piece of hill (where you can stand with your board flat without sliding away strap both feet in.
Stick your front hand out over the nose of your board.
Balance the majority of your weight over your front foot.
Keeping your front foot flat on the board, bend your front knee (while keeping your back leg straight), and see how low you can get yourself while remaining balanced.
Take your front hand, and grab the nose of your board. This helps provide support for the next step.
Slowly shift your weight out past the outside of your front foot, towards the nose of the board. If it hasn’t happened already, your back leg should be pulling the tail of the board off of the snow. This is a static nose manual.
If you are feeling comfortable and balanced over the nose of your board, try taking your hand off the nose and balancing without hanging on.
For the tail manual, repeat all of these steps using your back hand, leg and foot over the tail of your board.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with balancing on your toe or heel edge, bouncing around a little, or seeing how far out over the nose your tail you can get, as these will prepare you for taking this move out on to the hill
Turning Those Into Manuals (doing a press while moving)
Find yourself a piece of hill (usually on the flatter side of things, but not totally flat) where you feel comfortable balancing over the nose or tail.
Use the steps listed above. You can start these either with the board oriented across the hill, or down the hill.
If you start with the board across the hill, you will need to remember that you’ll have to balance on your uphill edge instead of with the base of the board flat in the snow. As soon as you make the movements for the press, your board will probably start moving on you. Whichever end is up in the air, will swing down the hill and into the fall line. Be brave and let this happen. Once the nose/tail points straight down the hill, you can let the base run flat. If you start to feel uncomfortable, just let go and stand up.
If you start with the nose or tail already down the hill, you should be moving. All the same movements apply, you’ll just be able to let the board run with its’ base flat in the snow, right from the start.
Eventually, you will become comfortable enough with these, that you can balance over the nose or tail, while riding, without holding on to the nose or tail with your hands.
While riding, you can use the balancing movements for manuals, combined with some board and body rotation, to roll over the nose or tail and change from forward to switch and vice-versa. You should be comfortable performing flat-spin 360’s before working on these.
Let’s take the nose roll as an example:
o Lean out over your front foot, as though you were going to do a nose manual.
o As you are moving into that lean, rotate your shoulders and back leg in the direction you wish to roll. (As you do this, be sure to keep your weight balanced on whichever edge remains uphill during the spin.) Start with 180 degrees of rotation, and then let the board go totally flat again.
o Don’t let the base of the board go totally flat until the nose/tail are oriented up/down the hill. Doing that will likely = fall-down-go-boom…and nobody wants that.
These moves can be rotated in either direction, over either the nose or the tail of the board. It’s just a matter of practice to get comfortable balancing and moving in all those ways.
Butters are basically half of a nose or tail roll. Rather than moving your shoulders and leg around for the full 180 degrees, start the spin and hold your movement once the board is oriented across the hill. (You might remember that position from starting manuals with your board across the hill.)
Whichever way you choose to butter, remember to keep yourself balanced on your uphill edge. If the base of the board goes flat while it is oriented across the hill, the downhill edge will catch, and once again…nobody wants that.
To recover from/complete this move, you can either let your suspended foot down and sideslip out, or you can pull the butter back from 90 degrees to 0, or do the full 180 roll.
As always, safety comes first. Practice these things on easy terrain and work your way up. Furthermore, protective gear is definitely recommended (if you’re not already wearing it)! Helmets, knee/elbow pads, wrist guards and impact shorts will help ease blows if you do fall, and offer piece of mind if you don’t.