Not every feature you see on the snow is natural, and some manmade features offer a lot of fun to modern freestyle skiers. Boxes and rails are some of these features that you might find at the terrain park or scattered around the resort.
I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life, and I love just about every style of the sport. I learned how to approach boxes, rails, and many other park features early in my skiing career, and I always like helping other skiers navigate these obstacles.
This post will show you how to hit boxes and rails on skis. I’ll provide you with some advice and steps to nailing your approach and having a lot of fun along the way. Whether you are just learning the basics of skiing or want to explore the park, this article will help you out.
Let’s get after it.
Boxes and rails aren’t necessarily everyday features that a regular skier will encounter. They are typically found in the terrain park and have become popular over the last few decades as freestyle and park skiing has exploded on the scene.
Because they aren’t natural features, there really isn’t any way to practice hitting them without getting into the terrain park and going for it. There aren’t many ways to replicate them otherwise, so you’ll need access to a park to learn how to accomplish these tricks.
Remember that you should always wear a helmet when hitting features in the park, and really anytime you are skiing. One bad fall can lead to lasting injuries that can ruin your ski day or even leave you with permanent problems. Always play it safe!
How to Hit Boxes and Rails on Skis
I think that hitting boxes is quite a bit easier than hitting rails. Boxes are wider and allow for a little more wiggle room for technique and balance. They tend to be a little more stable, and you can hit them in more ways.
If you are just learning these new tricks, start by simply skiing straight over a box. This will get you comfortable with the approach, ride, and dismount while helping you feel more confident in your abilities to go bigger and attempt more challenging tricks.
Going over a box with your skis straight is known as a 50-50. It’s the simplest way to hit a box, and you can sometimes do it on a rail if it is wide enough. Once you have a 50-50 down, you can move on to the most common box and rail slide techniques.
Follow these steps to perform a box slide or rail slide:
- Make sure the takeoff and landing areas of the box or rail are clear from other skiers and obstacles before making an approach.
- Start your approach to the feature and get enough speed to get on top of it without being out of control or going too fast.
- As you get close to the box or rail, you will jump up onto the feature while rotating your body and skis 90-degrees to slide across it perpendicular to the feature.
- Put your weight on your downhill ski when you land on the feature, and make sure to have your feet a little wider than your shoulders to stay balanced.
- Slide down the feature as long as you can or want to by keeping pressure on your downhill skis uphill edge. You’ll use the uphill ski to stay balanced and help with control.
- As you near the end of the box or rail and want to jump off the feature, bend your knees and hips slightly to initiate a jump.
- Jump off the rail or box and rotate your body 90 degrees to face straight and come back down to land on the snow.
- Try everything again on another feature.
Tips: There are different styles of boxes and rails that you’ll see in the park. When first learning how to hit them, stick with the smaller features, so you don’t get in over your head and navigate them successfully.
Don’t attempt a rail slide until you feel very comfortable with a box slide. Since a rail is a lot narrower than a box, it takes more balance and skill to complete it. Starting with a box slide will help you develop this skill.
Other Types of Slides and Grinds
There are many different types of slides and grinds you can do on boxes and rails. There are also a bunch of different ways you can approach and dismount those features. That’s part of the creative side of hitting features that aren’t jumps.
The maneuvers I described here are the most basic slides and grinds, making for a good starting point for every skier. If you want to take things to another level, hang out with skiers better than you or take a park-skiing lesson.
Hitting a box or rail can be intimidating at first but will get easier the more you attempt it. Remember to start small and work your way up to those bigger features so you don’t get in over your head too fast.
A great way to learn maneuvers like this is to ski with other people who are a little bit better than you. They will push you to try new things while encouraging you when you stomp a new trick. Nothing beats teamwork and support!