7 tips to improve your freestyle skiing in Snowparks
You must have admired them on your last ski holiday, the snow parks and the fun parks. There, skiers and snowboarders conjure up the most astonishing tricks, getting big air and making even the most dramatic of routines look easy! If you are a good skier or snowboarder and would like some tips to improve your freestyle skiing technique – this is the blog for you!
Snow and fun parks tend to be suitable for all ages, depending on the route so you can learn new skiing tricks. Many ski schools offer special courses for beginners and advanced skiers to learn how to freestyle ski, learning ski tricks in the snow park.
If you would like to try it out for yourself, we have put together the most important tips and tricks for snow park beginners here. But first, let’s take a closer look at the “playgrounds of the Alps”:
The different elements of a snow park
Snowparks are divided into different levels of difficulty, called lines. How the parks with rails, boxes and kickers are classified can differ in the ski resorts. Sometimes they are named XS to L, by colours from green to black or beginner line to pro line.
The lines for snowpark beginners have smaller jumps, so-called kickers and low jibs, which is the generic term for rails, boxes, wall rides or tabletops. Boxes and rails are long and narrow obstacles fixed to the ground. There are also jumps with or without tabletops or pipes for advanced riders, which are divided into half and quarter pipes and kickers in various sizes.
Let’s continue with the tips for snow park beginners:
- Always be safe in the snowpark
You can imagine from just watching that the snowpark also comes with a few risks. Always use a helmet for safety! Skiers and snowboarders who regularly go to fun parks also wear special safety equipment such as back, shoulder and wrist protectors or crash trousers.
The back protector and helmet are a must when you make jumps. You can often rent these from ski rental shops together with special fun park skis. If you are worried, consider private lessons or freestyle coaching.
Especially as a snow park beginner, you must behave correctly on the obstacles. Never set off without a considerable distance to the person in front of you. They could fall, and you could collide. Always show consideration for others, just as you do on the groomed slopes.
Always enter the park from the top, never from the side. You might miss a freestyler who is speeding – or flying – in from above.
If you fall, get back up as quickly as possible to clear the runway. Look up before you continue. Once you have reached the bottom, leave the park immediately so that you’re not going to be hit by another rider.
- Adapt the snow park obstacles to your abilities
As a snow park beginner, please leave the big jumps, boxes and pipes to the professionals. Not only will your lack of skills hinder those who can, but, the risk of injury is very high, and you may also destroy the slope or obstacles by riding the wrong way.
Generally, f you can ski down a red or black slope in a parallel turn without any problems, you are ready for the snowpark, but start small. Either on the beginner’s line or even on the family line, where the kids also have fun. This will give you a feel for what it’s like to feel no ground beneath your feet on your first taste of getting air.
Once you have perfected the landing on smaller jumps, you can slowly move on to larger ones. The risk of falling over and hurting yourself is high otherwise!
- Feel your way to the necessary speed
To ride the kickers, boxes, and rails and do tricks, you need to maintain a minimum speed. If you are too slow, you risk not making it over the jumps or obstacles, which can end very painfully. You can slide down backwards, fall off the side or fall onto the boxes or rails.
If you’re too fast, you may find it harder to control the landing or not be able to control the direction of travel. It’s best to watch others do it and get to know the obstacle well in advance. Master small boxes and jumps and try to increase your speed. For the bigger obstacles, you will need much more speed!
- Learn by watching or taking a fun park course
It’s always better to go to a qualified instructor, but people in the “snowpark scene” are very friendly and helpful. Watch the advanced and expert riders closely. Study their movements, speed and from what height they are heading towards the obstacle.
With a few admiring words for one rider or another, you can often quickly strike up a conversation and maybe get a few tips. However, it’s best to get a professional from a ski school to teach you exactly the steps you need to master to be able to fly or glide over the jumps.
You can also learn a lot at home by studying videos on YouTube.
As with anything new you learn, practice makes perfect. You will often end up on the floor and may get some bruises, but don’t give up. The more you practise, the faster and better you will get at your first tricks.
- How to ride boxes and rails as a snowpark beginner
Boxes, rails and kickers are the most popular obstacles in easy parks because pretty much every advanced skier can master them depending on their size and difficulty. However, it does take practice and only do what you feel comfortable with.
Start with the boxes, as they are wider than rails. This makes it easier for you to keep your balance when gliding over them. The technique is the same for both obstacles.
Just ride fast enough towards the box so that you have a little momentum to glide over the obstacle. Make sure you are not too fast, but not too slow either. Keep one ski flat on the box and place the other slightly to the side.
The skis should not be too close together; you should keep your legs about hip or shoulder-width apart to achieve the necessary stability. Keep your arms still, even if you have the urge to balance with them, you will achieve the opposite if you “flap” too much.
If you feel that you are falling on the box or rail, let yourself fall sideways into the snow. Landing on the obstacle without protectors can lead to painful injuries. Once you get a feel for this, you can start to keep your skis parallel and glide across the box or rails.
- How to master the kicker as a snowpark beginner
The kicker requires speed and it takes some effort at first but is one of the great tricks to learn. When approaching the kicker, go down a little by lowering your bottom. Keep your upper body centrally above the skis.
Timing for the jump is the most important thing. Just before you reach the top of the kicker line, push yourself off the kicker with your thighs, straightening your upper body. So that you do not stand like a pole in the air, immediately pull the skis back towards you by bending your knees strongly. If you are good at this, you can pull the ski tips upwards during the jump to jump even higher and further.
Just before you land, stretch your legs down and make your body long, but remain a little bent so that you land stably. At the same time, your legs should remain shoulder-width again, and your upper body should be bent forward a little.
Use your knees and thighs to cushion the jump by going very deep into your knees when you touch the ground.
- Best Snowparks in Europe
The huge snowpark in Kitzbühel is well known through film and television. Here you will find everything from beginners to absolute pros throwing themselves down the “monster gap jump”.
Davos is considered the freestyle Mecca of Switzerland. Besides the usual kickers and rails, there is also a very impressive superpipe with nighttime floodlights. Especially good for beginners there is a 15 x 15 m airbag for practising.
France: Les Deux Alpes
Located on the glacier, the Les 2 Alpes snowpark is open almost all year round. In addition to the standard facilities of a fun park, there are boardercross tracks and an airbag air cushion for practising.