We know, we know... Park features aren't a uniform bunch.
You can't roll up to the park on any given day and say you'll definitely be able to tackle all the kickers - just because you conquered one yesterday - in the same way that you wouldn't jump from ride-on butter boxes straight to triple-kinked handrails.
BUT if you try really hard - we're sure you can all picture/remember hitting these features for the first time! Which ones do you find the most daunting? Or do you avoid some of them altogether? Let us know your most feared and favourite features in the comments below...
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A-Frame (a.k.a. Battleship)
This is a box or rail that slopes up, across and down the other side. The idea is to slide all the way over it or even take enough speed to air over the flat section.
This is a solid, rectangular box that you hop onto and slide across; it’s usually made out of wood with rounded metal edges (‘coping’) and a plastic top. Boxes are easier to balance on than a thin rail so ideal for learners. Many parks even include ‘ride-on’ boxes with a ramp that leads you straight on, meaning you don’t even have to ollie (although some riders will tell you ride-on boxes ain’t cool!) Remember, as soon as you’re on the box you can’t use your edges, so keep your base flat.
A C-box is simply a box that has been curved into the shape of the letter ‘c’. Normally fixed in a snowpark on an angle or camber, the idea is that you jump on it, and slide around the c, using centrifugal force to keep centered on the box. A C-rail is simply the handrail version. There are even S-rails which – as you might imagine – are shaped like the letter S and challenges you to slide along its entire length, keeping your board flat and leaning left and right through the curves.
A rail or box that zig zags to mimic a double set of stairs from the street. The tricky bit is staying on the rail through the ‘kink’ – or alternatively you can gap the first section and land on the last ‘down’part.
The gaspipe is the budget version of a low hand rail, allowing riders to experience the sensation of sliding sideways. Why budget? Because it’s essentially a plastic pipe – the kind that road maintenance crews bury – half stamped into the snow. If your funpark consists of nothing but gas pipes, you’re definitely in Bulgaria.
Usually the biggest feature in a park, halfpipe is a specialist discipline in itself – it’s an Olympic event don’t you know? The walls of a halfpipe can vary in height from about 10 feet to 22 feet for a full size ‘superpipe’, but you’re best to start in something mellow. The side you’d naturally do a heel edge turn across is called the ‘frontside wall’; the side you’d naturally do a toe edge turn across is called the ‘backside wall’. The top of each of these transitions is known as the ‘vert’. A good pipe will usually have a queue of riders at the top of either wall – stick your hand up when you’re ready to drop in and keep your eyes open for people trying to ‘snake’ you!
We all know what a handrail is, and we’ve all seen skateboarders slide down them. Snowboarders have clearly nicked this idea, and while there’s a case for saying that there are few legitimate places for a real handrail on a mountain, nevertheless your average funpark will be stuffed with them. More complicated rails may have kinks in them (replicating multiple sets of stairs). Start off on small, straight rails that are set low enough that you can ollie onto them dead straight, then progress to harder rails with side-on take-offs when you have the skills to slide down them.
Hip (a.k.a. Spine)
A ridge-like jump that you approach head on, before airing out of the top and landing at 90 degrees on either side. Hips are great for progressing on (you can take a little more speed each time, going higher and higher) and the angled trajectory of your flight makes them perfect for launching big, stylish method airs. On the flip side, they’re a challenge for the shapers to maintain so you won’t find one in every park.
Take an old tractor tyre, a barrel, picnic bench or tree stump, half-bury it in a snowboard park, bang on your branding (most likely a carbonated energy syrup) and voila! You’ve got something to jib.
Snowboard jumps come in all shapes and sizes but are collectively known as ‘kickers’. Coloured signposts will usually grade their difficulty from green (easy) to black (experts only). There’s a whole load of jargon associated with kickers including the ‘run-in’ (approach), ‘transition’ (section where it curves up) ‘wu-tang’ (how steep it is!) ‘lip’ (the edge of the jump) ‘gap’ or ‘table’ (the flat section before the landing), ‘knuckle’ (the hard corner of the landing that you really don’t want to hit!) and ‘sweet spot’ (the steep section of the landing that catches your descent with minimal impact).
A rail or pole or pipe that’s been stuck into the ground is known as a pole jam. The basic idea is to slide up it and air off the top like a kicker. There are plenty of other things you can do with poles (try to ollie over them, hit them in the middle of the air, or ride off their sides) but essentially this is a park version of a naturally-occurring tree stump.
A tall, steep transition that becomes vertical at the top (funnily enough, like one half of a halfpipe). The idea is to get as high as you can out of the top and land back (re-enter) the same transition. It’s a tough feature to master but done right it looks spectacular. Norwegian legend Terje Haakonsen holds the record for the world’s highest quarterpipe air with a 9.8m effort from 2007.
Pretty self-explanatory this one. Rainbows are easier than they might look, though it’s a challenge to judge your speed since you’ll be slowing down as you go up the front, and the extra height were adds a further consequence. Treated like a kicker they offer the chance to air out the top.
Another obstacle that harks back to skateboarding, a stair set (normally made of wood) offers numerous challenges: boardslide the ledges or central rail, grind down the steps (known as doing a ‘firecracker’), launch over the whole lot, cartwheel down ‘em or to run back up replicating the famous scene in Rocky. They’re there to do with what you will, Aiiiidrian.
Wallrides are usually constructed from wood and plastic, with metal coping along the top – though some ‘eco runs’ (such as the Burton-sponsored ‘Stash’ parks) have natural versions made of logs. The aim here is to slide up and across the face, getting your board near the top of the wallride (and to ‘rock and roll’ the coping if you dare). Once you’re comfortable you can also try various ‘lip trick’ combos or even handplants.