The backside 360 is one of the easiest and safest spins to learn, and once nailed can be taken to just about any size of jump. Unlike 180s (where frontside is generally considered easier), when it comes to 360s you’re better to try the backside version first, because when you come around to the end of the trick you can see the landing clearly. The key is to commit to the manoeuvre 100%, and to initiate all the spin prior to leaving the ground. As with all spins, the grab adds style points; mute is probably the simplest option, but we’re going to spice things up with a tail grab. Here’s how:
1. Approach the jump with your weight low and centred. It is possible to travel straight up the middle of the transition and launch into it, but to start with you’ll probably find it easier to do a ‘set-up turn’. Basically, on the way down the in-run, move from your toe edge to your heel edge, so you’re heading towards the jump slightly off centre (left if you’re regular, right if you’re goofy). As you hit the transition, move from your heels to a flat base but with your weight slightly over your toes. This whole approach should resemble a gentle ‘S’ curve, the idea simply being to set you up on the jump on your toe edge.
2. As with the 180, the important work is all done on the take-off. For a backside spin, stay low and drive your leading shoulder towards your back foot as you approach the lip. Try to dig your toe edge in a little so you’re spinning off a solid footing, and pop gently by extending your legs right at the final moment. Don’t start carving across the kicker too early, or you’ll drift sideways over the landing and maybe even fall off the side of the jump. The turn and pop should all happen right at the lip.
3. Here comes the commitment. After leaving the kicker you have to keep committed to the full 360 spin. Keep turning your head and shoulders in the direction of rotation, and pull your knees up so you can reach down and grab the board.
4. The tail grab will take some practice; it helps to suck up the rear leg to your chest and kind of straighten the front leg, but if you’re really struggling with it then maybe try a simple mute grab instead (front hand toe edge).
5. It’s all a little scary at first as you turn around towards the kicker, but very soon you should find your landing comes back into view. This is the beauty of backside 3’s – from now on you can keep an eye on the landing and be fully aware of how much more spin you need to do.
6. Let go of the grab. If you’ve judged it correctly, you should keep spinning smoothly until the board touches the snow in a perfectly straight line. The reality is often a little different, of course. If it looks like you’re about to over-rotate (i.e. go around more than a 360) then you can open up – spread your arms and extend your legs – which should slow the spin down. Conversely, if you’ve not got enough spin and it looks like you’ll land horizontally at around 270 degrees, then keep your knees sucked up and bring your arms in to speed up the rotation and buy yourself a few more degrees before landing.
7. Set your board down in a straight line with a flat base, extending your arms for balance and cushioning the impact with your knees.
8. Keep the board pointing forwards until you’re in control enough to turn and start slowing down.
If you carve off the jump on your toeside without popping – or lean back on the take-off slightly – you’ll find yourself spinning through the air at a slight angle (and probably landing tail heavy). This is called ‘corking’ the trick. It can look cool, but if you want to flatten the spin out so you’re more upright in the air, then try to pop more of an ollie off the lip. This will compensate for the angle you’re leaving the jump.
It’s virtually impossible to look down to see where you’re grabbing, so learn how to reach for the grab when you’re strapped in on the flat. Practice in your bedroom until you can grab the very tip of the board in a fraction of a second without looking. And just for good measure, as you’re looking down the run-in to the kicker, squat down and give your grab one last practice touch before you go for the 360.