Riding Fakie and other variations of freestyle snowboarding.
When most people think of snowboarding they think of freestyle snowboarding. Freestyle riding focuses on trick riding and is derived from skateboarding. Freestyle snowboarding is hard to miss thanks to the amazing scene of a rider performing the tricks and the stunning sight of ramps; jumps and obstacles made of snow.
Most people who try freestyle snowboarding are either drawn to it by the excitement or are familiar with it due to skateboarding. It is very exciting to be able to launch off ramps, grind your snowboard on handrails or perform an air or ground spin. While having experience from skateboarding is a definite asset, you can perform many of these tricks with just a little practice.
While the physical aptitude for freestyle riding is undeniable, many tricks can be preformed with a little understanding of how they work. Before considering trying any tricks you must ensure that you have the correct gear and have preformed the usual physical steps required for any snowboarding experience.
Freestyle snowboarding requires a slightly different boot and binding than other styles of snowboarding. Generally you will want to have a snowboard that is more flexible than most and one that is wider and shorter than the standard snowboard. The flexibility of your snowboard will allow you to "dumb bell" off rails and your snowboard to bend enough to contour itself to the shape of any transitions in half pipes or other obstacles that you may be riding. For boots you will want to have a pair of soft shelled boots as they will allow you to flex enough to make the tight turns that will be required for many tricks.
Now comes the fun part, learning some of the basic tricks. One of the first places to start is "riding Fakie". To ride Fakie simply means to ride your snowboard with your back foot on the front of the snowboard; reverse of how you would normally ride. This is a stance that is very important to learn as many tricks will either start this way or end this way.
When learning to ride Fakie you almost need to learn how to snowboard all over again. Up until this point you have been working hard to master snowboarding with your best foot forward however riding Fakie style changes everything. Start simple and begin riding down easy slopes Fakie style. Once you get used to it begin carving corners. With a little practice you will soon be able to ride down any hill or ramp with either foot forward.
Another important skill to learn is how to wheelie. A wheelie is basically what it sounds like, lifting the nose of your snowboard off the ground while riding it. Being able to wheelie will allow you to progress to more advanced tricks such as the Ollie.
Tail wheelies are the easiest to learn for most people. Begin practicing by riding down a gentle slope and lifting the nose of your snowboard up by leaning backwards. As you practice you will become comfortable with the feeling of falling backwards and will be able to hold the position for longer periods of time.
Of course there are many variations to the age-old wheelie. The blunt nose wheelie, for example, is preformed while riding down hill sideways. While sliding sideways down the slopes begin to pull the rear 2/3 of your snowboard off the ground until only the front 1/3 is on the ground. If you do this same trick with the nose in the air it is called a switch stance blunt nose slide.
The last trick to cover here is the Ollie, an invaluable aid to jumping. Jumping off a ramp is straightforward; you ride up the ramp and get some air. Learning to get vast amounts of air straight up is not so easy to learn. An Ollie is a way to use your snowboard as a springboard to launch you straight up in the air higher than you could with just momentum.
To perform an Ollie ride into the top of the launch point with your knees bent, ready to spring, and the nose of your snowboard slightly elevated. As the front of your snowboard glides past the lip of the ramp shift your weight to your rear foot thus rising the nose of the snowboard even higher. Now comes the spring like release of energy. As the rear lip of your snowboard passes the lip of the ramp jump hard off your rear foot. This action will cause your snowboard, and by proxy you, to spring off the edge of the ramp to higher heights than you could have by simply launching and will also keep you inline with the ramp for re-entry.
As you can imagine from the text here, freestyle riding is fun, challenging and invigorating. If you like to amaze your friends and challenge yourself and your abilities than this is the style of snowboarding for you. Trick riding will never go out of style and no matter how many tricks you have mastered there will always be a new one to learn thus keeping the sport fresh for as long as you wish to enjoy it.