How to Butter on Skis

A butter is a smooth and stylish ski trick that looks super cool and isn’t that difficult to perform. It might look a little complicated if you have never done one before, but you can get it in the bag with enough practice and patience. 

I’m a lifelong skier with a huge passion for the sport. I always love learning new tricks and maneuvers and first learned how to butter when I was still a teenager. I enjoy sharing what I know with others and have helped a few friends with their buttering techniques over the years. 

This post will show you how to butter on skis. I’ll walk you through the different types of butters, tell you the proper technique to complete the trick, and provide you with some other useful information that can help you out. 

Let’s get started. 

Initial Thoughts

Buttering is a fun trick that I think all skiers should learn when they are ready for it. It’s kind of a throwback trick that has gotten popular again, and it pays history to ski ballet and old-school non-aerial tricks of years past. 

As with any new trick, safety is a primary concern when learning how to butter. It’s not as dangerous as jumping tricks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt. Always make sure you are skiing in control and within your abilities when attempting new tricks. 

You need to be at least an intermediate skier to butter. And this isn’t just because you need good skiing skills (which you do), but also because you need to have high enough DIN settings on your bindings for them to stay locked in when you lean heavily into your skis. 

Your choice of skis can also affect your ability to butter. If you have a big stiff set of racing skis on your feet, it’s going to be really hard to butter, even if you are an experienced skier. If you use more flexible freestyle skis, it will be much easier. 

How to Butter on Skis

There are two different types of butters on skis – the nose butter and the tail butter. I’ll show you how to do each one here, but you might find that one is easier than the other. For me, nose butters have always been easier. 

The concept for each of these is pretty similar, but they can feel a lot different when you are actually out in the snow. You can work on them both simultaneously or focus on one until you have it mastered and move on to the next. 

Check out these videos if you don’t understand the difference between a nose butter and a tail butter. 

Nose butter: 

Tail butter:

How to Nose Butter on Skis

Ok, let’s start with the nose butter. This trick is when you lean forward onto the nose of your skis and lift the tails up into the air. It’s the most commonly performed switch, meaning your back is facing the downhill side of the slope. 

I recommend first trying it on a gentle slope so you don’t gain too much speed, especially since you’ll be skiing backward

To perform a nose butter, follow these steps: 

  1. You first need to be skiing switch to perform a nose butter. So either pop a 180 or position yourself so you are skiing backward. You don’t need to be skiing too fast for this. 
  1. As you ride switch, you’ll want to lean heavily toward the front of your skis, so you’ll be leaning into the uphill side of the slope you are riding switch down. 
  1. Lean gently and smoothly toward the nose of your skis. You can put your poles down in front of you to help you stay balanced. 
  1. Your tails should start to come off the ground as your lean into the tips. The farther you lean forward, the more your skis will flex and the more exaggerated of a butter you will perform. 
  1. Drive your weight into the tips of your boots and flex your hamstrings and glutes to gain control and butter as heavily as you want. 
  1. Stop leaning and come back down to flat when you are ready to go out of the butter. 

How to Tail Butter on Skis

Tail butters are easier for some skiers because you don’t have to ride switch to make them happen. I’ve always found nose butters to be easier for some reason, but this is not the case for everyone. 

To perform a tail butter, follow these steps: 

  1. Find a gentle slope that isn’t too steep to try your first tail butter. You don’t need to be going too fast to make it happen. 
  1. As you move downhill, lean back heavily into the tail of your skis. 
  1. The tips of your skis will start to come off the ground, and the more weight you put into the heels of your boots and backward lean, the higher they will come up. 
  1. Lean back slowly and in control to stay balanced and engaged as you perform the tail butter maneuver.
  1. Ski as long as you can or want to with your tips off the ground. You can bend your knees and really sit back if you want to try and extend the butter as long as possible.
  1. Lean forward and bring your tips back to the snow when you are ready to stop performing the trick. 

Tips and Suggestions

A butter is more easily performed when you are on packed or groomed snow. If you try the trick in deep powder, it’s challenging to get enough pressure on your tips and tails to get the other side of your skis up in the air. 

You always want to take a slow and steady approach when you begin your lean either forward or backward into a butter. If you go too fast, it’s hard to find your balance to ride on either end of your skis. 

And by slow here, I don’t mean minutes. The trick should still be performed in seconds, but you should focus on not being too jerky or quick with your leaning motion. It takes some time, but you’ll get used to it.  

Once you get the hang of nose and tail buttering, you can incorporate these into other tricks. The 180 to nose butter is one of the easiest to learn, but you can throw a butter in to add some style to your park run or even when you are just cruising down a groomer. 

This is one of the smoothest tricks out there, and if you can master it, your friends and other skiers are sure to ask you how they can do it too!

Final Thoughts

Buttering is a fun and impressive skiing trick that isn’t too difficult to learn but looks impressive when you do it right. If you have a little patience, you should be able to figure this one out in a day or two of trying. 

Remember that your skis and bindings play a significant role in your ability to butter. You need more flexible skis and high DIN settings to perform butters on the snow.

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