A Perfect Circle: Why 360s Rule the Mountain

Let’s begin our three-hundred-and-sixty degree tour with the place where – for most of us – it all begins: the park. Having sketched your way through a first hurried rotation over the blue jumps, it’s time to add some flavour. First, a grab. And no, your boot doesn’t count (are you listening at the back Shaun?).

We’re talking about a melon, tail, stale, nose, mute (if you must), japan or a good old fashioned indy.

Next, add a little size. Take your newly styled three to the red jumps.

Now the black line.

Got it? Good. All that’s left is to practice it a few times, ask a mate with a heli to film it… And voila! You should now have a trick which looks like this:

OK, so we can’t all aspire to Freddie Austbo levels of perfection, but the point is this: 360s, even those done off park kickers, are like a pair of tortoiseshell sunnies – never out of fashion (although yes, some folk can pull them off better than others).

They also offer infinite varieties. With the basic grabs ticked off, you can spice up the 360 recipe with a chicken salad, roast beef, Canadian bacon or – heck – serve it up raw, like our friend Justin Fronius here. (Hmmm, what to call such a rare non-grab – a steak tartare?)

And of course, there are four different ways to chuck them. There’s frontside, backside, switch backside and switch frontside – aka the caballerial. “But backside threes are a bit shit!” I hear you cry. Not true. Granted, the it doesn’t offer quite the same natural tweaking potential, but in the hands of a master it can be elevated to A-grade wank material – witness this melon to method version courtesy of Norwegian style god Stale Sandbech (1.09).

Jumps, though, are just one of the many places this most versatile of tricks can be deployed. Jibbers love a good back three on. Or off. Or maybe both – if your name’s Denis Leontyev.

But when you think about it, you don’t even have to be this tech. Any rail trick in which you start and finish in your normal stance, with a full rotation in between, is effectively a 360. Frontside blunt to backside 270 (aka Danish) out? Yeah, you just did a fancy back three. 270 to boardslide to regular? Same again. With that in mind, take a look at this edit of UK rail wizard Jamie Nicholls and see how many 360s you can count. Consider it your homework.

And while you’re at it, here’s a pop quiz: What was the highest ever air done out of a quarterpipe?

If you answered “some kind of mahoosive method” or “Ingemar Backman”, you’d be wrong. It was of course Terje Haakonsen, with this 9.8 metre 360 at the 2007 Arctic Challenge. And the best thing about it? It was accidental! He was going for a regular backside air but over-rotated, which is a bit like a golfer hooking their tee shot, bouncing the ball off a tree and straight into the hole, Happy Gilmore style.

Now, there’s no denying 360s on quarterpipes can seem a bit of a cheat since the rider doesn’t appear to do a full rotation. Such is the nature of re-entry transitions; the board completes a full turn but the rider lands backwards. Nevertheless, they can still look rad as hell – as Danny Davis proved at the X Games last year when he landed possibly the coolest ever halfpipe three.

Man-made terrain is all well and good, but every snowboarder knows that the ultimate test of their freestyle skill is to take it into the backcountry – and likewise, it’s in powder that our humble friend the 360 finds its natural home. When improvising a line down an unfamiliar face, it’s a safe enough trick to throw without risking a major ragdoll, and it still looks rad – plus swallow tails generally prefer landing forwards! Not that they have to be small, either. Ever since Jamie Lynn blasted over a road gap and onto the cover of Transworld, front 3’s in particular have provided a rich seam of game-changing moments, from terrifying/hilarious slams to football-field sized kickers to this jaw-droppingly huge cliff drop from Mark Sollors in the latest Burton movie (skip to 7.07).

Through it all, the 360 sails serenely on. For proof of its enduring power, look no further than Nicolas Müller. The Swiss powder surfer is a master of minimalism, having built a career out of that spine-twisting method – but when it comes to spinning he makes even a simple backside three look like the coolest trick in the world. And is there a finer sight in snowboarding than Nicolas in full flow down a powder field popping a buttered 360?

Yes: if the method is The King of Grabs, then surely the 360 can make a good case for the King of Spins. Just take a gander at this shot of Travis Rice in Alaska.

I rest my case...

Photo: Oli Gagnon

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.