Kickers are one of the most popular features in the park - probably because they're not quite intimidating as rails. After all, there's no metal pole to destroy your coccyx on, but it can be rock solid, icy and off-putting - especially when you face an unexpected audience at the top of a busy park, watching you drop in. However, kickers offer so much scope for trick variety and you just can't beat that weightless feeling of soaring through the air.
The key with kickers is speed. Don't build up enough and you'll be doing the awkward side shuffle off the shoulder. Hit them too fast and you'll completely overshoot the landing like this ambitious idiot. As with everything, it just takes practice - start off on some smaller bumps, progress on to the 'huck and hope' approach and soon you'll be bossing kickers like Jamie Nicholls. Well, maybe not quite - but one can dream.
This is one of the easier kicker tricks to master early on, once you've got basic grabs dialled. It feels fun, looks pretty stylish and will help you nail your control over the board in the air, enabling you to do tweaks and stuff more easily.
1) Approach the kicker with weight evenly spread and pop an ollie off the lip, with your weight ever so slightly over your toes.
2) Now you're in the air, turn your board 90 degrees in the direction of a toeside turn. It helps to twist your shoulders in the opposite direction to balance out the movement.
3) Keep it tweaked for as long as possible, and if you like, add a little poke like Thomas Harstad here. Before you land, twist your shoulders back into line with where you're heading - and the board should follow.
4) Land with a flat base and board pointing the exact direction you're heading. If you touch down slightly on your toe edge it'll help you keep things in control.
Once you've mastered the basic grabs - including the indy, tail grab, nose grab, mute, melon - then it's time to tackle the ultimate grab, the method. This oh-so-stylish trick has outlasted every trend in snowboard history. They may look simple but it takes a lifetime to master this classic grab with real style.
Here are our basic steps, but click here for a more detailed rundown.
1) Look for a decent sized jump with a fairly steep take-off. Approach with speed and pop off the kicker. As with the backside shifty, it can help to have your weight ever so slightly over your toe-edge to get your body in the right position.
2) As you leave the lip, pop and twist your board out to the side like a backside shifty, while bending your knees at the same time.
3) Grab the board with your leading hand and push your trailing hand forwards to counter the movement of your lower body.
4) really bone that back foot out, so the board flies through the air with flat base outwards. The key is synchronising the push of the back leg and the bending of the knees.
5) As you approach the landing, let go of the board, pull your trailing arm in and put your back foot back so you're heading in the right direction again. Easy!
Now for the spins. The frontside 180 is a classic trick which deserves some proper attention. Make sure you've got riding switch down to a tee before trying this, otherwise chances are you'll eat it on the landing.
These are the basics, but if you want a more detailed description (with a melon thrown in) click here.
1) Approach your kicker frontside, start shifting your weight ever slightly onto your heels and pop off the top.
2) Open your shoulders only as you leave the lip. If you do it before, chances are you'll over-rotate. Little kickers need more welly than hefty kickers, so bear that in mind as you gently spin your body anticlockwise (clockwise for goofy).
3) Keep the movement coming around and as you start to reach 180 bring your new back shoulder round the other way so your chest is facing forward. This will helps stop the rotation. The great thing with frontside 180s is you're always looking the right way! Ride away switch until you're in control before swapping back to regular stance - or find something to half cab off.
Like the method, or the backside rodeo this trick is a stone cold classic. There are an infinite number of variations from slow floaty ones to styled out Japan variations. Again, it's best attempted once you've got riding switch dialled. If you're looking for a more detailed rundown, click here.
1) Approach the kicker slightly on your toe edge and ollie hard off the lip.
2) As you leave the ground, rotate your shoulders so your back is turned to the slope (it takes some practice feel at ease doing this!). Spin that smooth 180 and keep your knees sucked up.
3) Don't try and spot your landing. Keep your eyes on the snow between your bindings and try landing with a slight toe edge to kill the rotation. Ride away switch, stoked that you've managed to nail it without landing on your arse!
A cab 180 (or half cab) is a slight step up because it's generally reckoned to be harder to take off switch than it is to land switch. It's a steezy looking spin which comes in handy anytime you end up riding switch and want to revert back to normal again. Check the more in-depth guide to nailing half cabs on the flat here.
1) This time you'll be approaching the kicker switch. Approach with speed and ollie off the lip.
2) Rotate your shoulders clockwise (anti-clockwise if you're goofy) until you're at 90 degrees in the air. Your board will follow. Suck those knees up and keep the spin going as you edge lower to touch down.
3) Landing is much easier because you'll be riding normal stance. Like the frontside 180, it can help to move swing you new back shoulder forwards to kill the rotation. Absorb the landing. It can help to touch down with your weight ever so slightly over your toes for extra control.
Time to enter the realm of proper full rotations. Back 3s are actually sometimes easier than backside 180s because you can spot the landing. This is one of the easiest and safest tricks to learn, so don't hesitate and get practicing.
1) Approach the jump with weight low and centred. Make a gentle S-curve before you hit the knuckle, so you naturally come in on your toe edge.
2) Drive your lead shoulder towards your back foot as you ride off the lip and extend your legs at the last minute to get that pop.
3) Keep turning your head and shoulders in the direction of the rotation - and the board will follow. It takes commitment, but trust us! This trick looks great with a tail-grab (as shown here) but works equally well with an indy or a mute.
4) Soon the landing will come into view. Straighten up and land with a flat base in normal stance. Sweet!
OK, we're starting to get a bit trickier now. Front 3s are reckoned to be harder to nail at first because the landing is blind but once you finally stomped it, the feeling is just awesome, if not more so. Like the back 180, these are classic tricks that look great with a whole variety of grabs. Check out this in-depth tutorial with Ben Kilner for more deets.
1) As with all spins, approach low and centred. Turn your front shoulder slightly forward and in preparation for the spin.
2) You can do a set-up S turn like the BS 360, so you hit the jump ever so slightly on your heel edge.
3) Open your shoulders in an anticlockwise direction (clockwise if you're goofy), keeping them parallel to the ground. You don't want to start corking on us just yet! Indy nosebones (like Ben Kilner's here) look great with this trick, but it looks equally good if you grab melon or even stalefish.
4) Here's the trick part - landing backwards. Watch the ground between your feet to gauge height and align your board. Aim to land a little on your toe edge to kill the rotation - and ride away!
Most people find their first backflip an all-round terrifying experience - heart in your mouth kinda stuff. You can try learning on an airbag but there's not really any practice to build up to backflips. You've just gotta commit and 100% give it your all. But good god does it feel good once you've stomped it.
You can read a full blow-by-blow account of how to backflip here.
1) Stay low and relax on the approach. Imagine yourself leaning back and throwing your head/arms back to look at the tail of your board.
2) Remember! Your body will follow where your eyes are looking - so at the lip, commit! Extend your legs into the pop, throw your arms up and lean back. Keep looking back!
3) Square your shoulders to the jump as you take off. You'll be able to spot your landing as your body comes round, so you can control your rotation speed.
4) Realign your board to point downhill, absorb the impact and relish in the fact you've just gone upside down.
Now for a bone-fide classic of kicker tricks - the cab five. Why is it so well-regarded? Well, it feels great and looks amazing. Plus it shows you're truly comfortable riding switch and throwing some serious spins. It's also (believe it or not) the 'safety' trick that many pros use to guinea pig a jump.
1) Warm up with a few half cabs and BS 360s. When you put these two tricks together, you have a cab five.
2) Approach the kicker with speed either on heel or toeside, pre-wind those arms ready for the spin and get ready to pop.
3) As you reach the lip, throw the spin while the board is on its edge. Aim to leave the kicker with your upper body already committed to a 180. Throw those arms as hard as you can!
4) Keep looking with your head as you go up into the air. If you can get round the first 270 degrees, the hard work's done. From here, you can spot your landing and judge your rotation for touching down.
5) If you can land 360s, you should be alright with the last 90 degrees. Aim to land with board heading straight forward. Don't panic if you don't make the full 540! Set the tail down a little early and complete the rotation as the board comes down. Buuuut... if you want to stomp it properly you should work up to the point where both your feet touch down together, with your weight slightly on your toe edge.