Looking at the current setup of many parks in the UK, if you cannot effectively ride side hits you’re left with a limited selection of features to ride on a park night.
If you decide to start trying these features you need to have some idea of what you’re doing as the consequences of failure can be quite high.
These features really exposure weaknesses in core riding skills as they require you to accurately move your body and board. In addition to having strong riding skills you need to trust yourself and your abilities. A lot of your success will come down to you being 100% committed to the trick and the feature. Heading into side hit wondering if you’ll survive is definitely not the way to go.
Where do you start?
Quite often the first trick to try is the frontside 50/50. This seems to make sense, as it was the first trick you tried on a box. This is where the rail faces your chest and you jump onto the feature and land in your usual 50/50 position.
The tough part about this trick is that your level of commitment, pop and accuracy has to be quite high. Why not lessen the level of all three of those elements by trying a backside noseslide? This is more commonly thought of as a backside boardslide, but in this instance you’re only looking to get your front foot onto the feature, therefore a noseslide.
You would be approaching with your back to the rail, initially using your turn shape to float you onto the feature, placing just your front foot on top of the feature. As you get more comfortable with a heelside ollie, you can approach straighter and rotate in the air rather than using your turn shape.
This video gives you a flavour of the differences and a clear idea of how you can progress to noseslides without too many issues.
The Key Elements
As you’re only aiming to get your front foot on the feature you do not need to fully commit. You can ride the sides and effectively bail early without having thrown yourself on top of the feature, as you would with a 50/50. That’s why I recommend round low features when starting this trick.
You initially use turn shape combined with a small amount of speed to get onto the feature. That way you do not need to have a big pop or ollie.
You’re only aiming for your front foot to be placed on the feature. That means you do not need to be very accurate. Co-ordinating both feet landing in unison and aligned for a 50/50 can be tough (see video). As you land on the feature your board creates a platform with your momentum drawing you into the feature. With a 50/50 your momentum is often throwing you off the side of a feature, making it tougher to be as accurate.
If you under rotate a noseslide you end up coming off a little early or you get a sweet backside 50/50, if your pop or ollie works out well. If you over rotate you get a sweet backside boardslide that will come out to fakie or even a frontside 180 if your super lucky/unlucky.
With a 50/50 if you do not get your foot placement correct you add in your own elements of rotation. Quite often riders will place just one foot on the feature first. Front foot first ends with a frontside boardslide. Back foot ends with a frontside tailslide. Both can be quite scary if unintentional.
The key is, don’t expect to get this trick without having them on lock on a box first. You need to have a solid base of support running through your front leg so can pin the board onto the feature.
When trying them for the first time pick a low feature (see video). If it’s round you can ride the sides and you do not need to be as accurate. If the feature is low you can come off early and get grip from the snow to stop you falling. Watch other riders doing the same trick and pay attention to their speed and line into the feature.
When you step up to a higher are larger feature, ideally you’ll be looking for it to be slightly sloped down. That way your speed and line will float you on. If the feature is flat you’ll have to use more pop/ollie to get on.
These feel great once you have them dialled and you’ll be mixing it with the big guns on any park night.