Ollies are an almost magical combination of motion and physics. The Ollie is a way to propel yourself and your snowboard off the ground to clear obstacles, get higher air or launch straight off the top of a ramp for perfect re-entry.
The Ollie originated with skateboarding and has been modified from there to work for snowboarding. Skaters have used the Ollie to launch themselves over small obstacles such as curbs, fire hydrants and even cars. While the idea of how to Ollie is the same the application of the technique for snowboarding is different.
The key to an Ollie is the physics principal of there being an equal and opposite reaction for every action. When you Ollie you leap off the ground but also drive you snowboard into the ground and thus create a spring board that launches you as hard as you push down. This force propels you higher into the air than you could go be simply jumping up.
To begin the Ollie find a gentle slope and ride down hill. While moving isn’t critical to being able to Ollie, it does make it easier to get the feel for it when learning. The snowboarding Ollie is based upon jumping so you will need to crouch down as low as you can will riding down the slope.
Now comes the most important part of the Ollie, the launch from the ground. Your skill here will impact how well and high you can Ollie. The key to the launch on a snowboard is a diagonal launch with your front foot leading the angle. You want to jump as high off the ground as you can with your front foot leaving the ground well before your back foot leaves the ground.
Leaping into the air does two things for you. First it raises the noose of your snowboard high up into the air so that you can clear obstacles. Second it creates a springboard effect with the tail of your snowboard that will launch you higher into the air. As the tip of your snowboard rises into the air it drives the tail into the ground and causes the snowboard to flex. When your rear foot raises into the air the tension created is released and this energy launches the rear of the snowboard high up into the air.
As you feel yourself becoming airborne you need to make a few in flight adjustments. Start off by leveling the snowboard and raising your feet as high up as possible as you reach the crest of your Ollie. This is extremely important to not only the aesthetic look of your Ollie but also your ability to land it. If your nose is pointing to far forward it will dig into the snow and cause you to crash. If you land with the read first your snowboard will be under weighted and it will tend to move around uncontrollably as you contact the snow again. Remember to land on booth foot at the same time.
Ollies are the basis of many tricks and are very important to learn how to do well. They will allow you to launch straight up off a ramp and thus be able to re-enter the ramp, clear obstacles on your path or just launch higher off the top of jumps.