Skiing is a constantly-evolving sport that has come a long way from its Nordic roots. Cross country skiing first laid the foundation for Alpine styles, and recent generations took things even further with freestyle and park skiing. In fact, skiers invent new tricks and techniques every single day.
There are many interesting tricks out there, but one of the most famous is the backflip. If you’re a beginner, you might think achieving such a feat is impossible. However, there are many out there who can pull off the move with ease and grace. The following sections will look at some of the steps necessary to complete a backflip so you too can attempt the impossible.
Before attempting a backflip on skis, I need to make a quick disclaimer: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, attempt this high-level trick until you are absolutely ready. As impressive as it is, the maneuver is incredibly dangerous. You need to be extremely comfortable with different aerial maneuvers before you even consider a backflip. Practice going off of jumps, learn how to stick landings, and get a good feel for how to move your body while in the air.
A backflip gone wrong comes with serious consequences. Flying through the air on skis presents inherent dangers. When you combine that level of air with an inversion, you increase the risk even further. Landing on your neck or head can cause serious injuries and even death. Do not attempt a backflip without having the basics down first.
Start on a Trampoline or in the Pool
Before you attempt a backflip on skis, you need to learn how to perform one without long sticks attached to your feet. That usually means on a trampoline or in a pool.
On a trampoline, take a few warm-up bounces to get a feel for the spring and force. Try to bounce straight up and then look back directly over your shoulders. Tuck your knees into your chest and commit to the rotation. The trampoline allows you to land on your back, front, or sides without issue. That makes it a good place to learn the basic feel and technique.
In the pool, first practice your backflips on the diving board and then can move to the side of the pool deck. The pool is a great place to learn the backflip because if you hit the water in an awkward way, you won’t hurt yourself. Go to the end of the diving board and face backward. Align your heels with the end of the board, bend down, and push down to generate power.
From there, look back directly over your shoulders, tuck your legs into your chest, and fully commit to the flip. As you complete the flip, try to land feet first and fully upright as you would need to on dry land. Getting good at diving board backflips is where most people start.
Time for Skis
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with learning how to backflip on a trampoline or in a pool, you can start to work your way towards skis. While the trick comes with more risks on the snow, the movement is not too different.
If you have access to an airbag, that’s a great place to start. Many ski camps or terrain parks will have training days where they inflate an airbag below a jump so skiers can practice difficult tricks and aerials without risk of injury. Take full advantage of such items if you can. Performing a full backflip is one thing, sticking the landing is another skill that takes time to master.
Another important aspect to note is that some jumps are better suited for backflips than others. Ski jumps with a really steep takeoff than generate a lot of pop are ideal over jumps that shoot you forward. The more vertical you can get with your initial takeoff, the better. For your first attempts, make sure you’re on a jump with a steep takeoff.
The first attempt can be daunting. To help with that, I always suggest visualizing the entire process before you go off the jump. Close your eyes at the top of the runway and picture the perfect rotation and landing.
As you approach the jump, bend slightly at the knees and waist to prepare for takeoff. Once you hit the lip, pop off of the edge in a jump-like fashion. Tuck your knees into your chest, look back directly over your shoulders and fully commit to the rotation. After you orient your body upright again, untuck your legs, open your arms slightly and focus on the landing. If all goes well, congratulations, you’ve just completed your first backflip on skis!
Practice makes perfect, and skiing is no exception. While a backflip is only for expert level skiers who really know what they’re doing on the mountain, it’s not as hard as you first might think. You might not land your first attempt, but with a few days or weeks of solid practice you’ll get there.
Follow the above suggestions and you’ll be on your way in no time. Remember, as a backflip comes with so much risk, you should always have a friend or fellow skier with you in case you need medical help.
Have you ever done a backflip on skis? Do you remember your first attempt? Let us know in the comments below!