Don’t be afraid of the park. Nail the rails this winter with a little help from the snow pros...
Name: Silvia Mittermüller
Main sponsors: Oakley, Vans, Ratiopharm.
Years riding: Nine.
Best achievements: Silver Medal X Games Slopestyle 2005, Best Trick Abominable Snow Jam 2006.
Fave place to ride: Breckenridge has the best parks in the world.
Favourite trick: Anything smooth and clean that feels easy in the air.
Before you hit a rail on board, find a short, wide straight box that you can hop on to easily. A 50/50 on a box is a very easy trick. The key is not to put any weight on your edges. As soon as you’ve figured out your 50/50, and you’re comfortable riding fakie (switch), move on and learn your first proper jib trick on a box – a backside board slide.
Approach the box straight with little speed, and lower your weight by bending your knees. This helps you to ollie on to the box easier and safer.
The pop up
When you reach the lip of the take off, pop a little ollie from your back foot and jump on to the box square. Your shoulders should lead this little 90-degree turn – the back arm moves to the side while your shoulders turn in a way that you face forwards when you land on the box.
The follow through
Now for the trickiest moment in this trick: to position your weight correctly on the box while you land and slide. Most people tend to put too much weight on their heels in the beginning and slide out on their butts. To avoid this, it helps to bend your knees loads to lower your weight. A lower centre of gravity will help the balance. Also, leaning forward will help you not slide out.
Once you have the right balance in the slide, the end of the box will appear very quickly. As soon as you lose the box under your feet, get your board straight again so you don’t catch your edge in the snow. If you do a proper square board slide, it will be easiest for you to land this trick fakie – you already bring some kind of spinning motion with you from the take off, so keep this momentum and go to fakie on the end of the box. To do this properly, you need to turn your shoulders in the new direction and your body and board will follow. When you land, bend your knees again, look forward and concentrate to keep going straight. Ride out switch and smile. Well done. You just did your first backside board slide.
How to... progress
Once you can do backside and frontside board slides on straight boxes or rails, move to a curved box. A c-box is a little trickier – through the curve you have to position your weight differently and more exactly not to fall off. When you frontside board slide a curved box, it’s easiest to do your slide on your inner foot and put the majority of your weight on to that foot.
Approach the c-box with a little more speed than for a straight box, so you don’t fall off. Pop on and jump on to your back foot and lower your weight on to it as soon as you land. Look over your outside shoulder while keeping all your weight on the inner foot. If your speed and position are fine, you will reach the end of the box and should go back to a regular stance as you have been looking over your outside shoulder which is your front shoulder. Land it, ride away, and be stoked. You just did a frontside board slide – a Smith – all through the c-box.
Name: Caja Schöpf
Main sponsors: Oakley goggles, Völkl, Peak Performance
Years riding: I was born in the alps so a long time!
Best achievements: 1st Kaunertal Opening ’06
Fave place to ride: Zugspitze, Germany
Favourite trick: 180, rails
To learn to rail slide on skis, start on an easy, straight box first. There are some simple rules you have to follow for rails, but don’t be scared; sliding a box is probably the easiest way to start your freeskiing career.
Make sure you have enough speed and approach the box straight on. If you jump on a rail from the side, you’ll probably fall off the other side.
The pop up
Pop up and turn your body 90 degrees in whichever direction you prefer to slide and land smoothly on the box. It is important that the skis are exactly 90 degrees to the rail and the box is right under your feet.
The follow through
As you slide, keep your knees, upper body and hips bent. your arms should be in front of your body pointing to the ground. Don’t be too stiff; an upright rail slide is just not cool. look at the end of the box to keep your balance.
To make the rail slide a little more difficult and stylish, end the trick by landing switch rather than just forward. All you have to do is turn your body another 90 degrees and land clean and smooth. Have fun trying, and don’t be disappointed if you have a little slam once in a while. That’s just normal. After lots of practice, you’ll make this trick look like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
How to… progress
Once you’re happy on straight rails, take the next step and move on to curved rails. The easiest form of curved rails is the c-box and for your first c-box trick, try the rail slide to fakie. C-boxes are pretty funny and not as difficult as they look. The key is to get the perfect amount of speed. Too slow makes you fall off on the inside, too fast and you’ll fall off on the outside. If you’ve got different curved boxes in your fun park, you can choose if you’d rather slide with your face outside or inside the curve.
Approach the box straight on and pop up on to the c-box. Land with your feet directly over the box and your skis at 90 degrees. Lean your body a little into the curve. Now it’s all about the monkey stone again: your knees, upper body and hips are bent and your arms should be in front of the body pointing to the ground. In this position and with the right speed, you’ll reach the end of the box smoothly.
Nose and tail presses are kind of easy on curved boxes and make your trick even more stylish, so try those too. When you get really confident, try a 270 off a c-box. Sometimes, even 450s are possible. But now I’m starting to daydream! Good luck.