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Guide, tips and advice to get started!

There was a time when skiing was about sliding down steep slopes as quickly or gracefully as possible. Then freeski appeared, combining the tricks of snowboarding (skill, big air, rails) with the freedom of traditional skiing.

“Freestyle has become so popular that there are now three freestyle disciplines at the Winter Olympics,” said Paddy Graham, Britain’s number one freeski. Here are which ones:

Paddy graham flies away

© Pally Learmond / Red Bull Content Group

  • Slopestyle: “It is a ski with jumps, rails and other obstacles, usually five to six statistics in total. You have to perform tricks on each element and complete the best race to get the highest rating.”

  • Half tube: “The halfpipe is about 8 meters high and made entirely of snow. The goal for cyclists is simple: do as many tricks as possible on this U.”

  • Great air: “Skiers climb a 20-meter high ramp and receive points for the highest number of rotations and tricks they perform in the air.”

Of course, you obviously do not have to start in one of these three disciplines from your first steps in freestyle skiing. “Freeski can be adapted according to your wishes,” confirms the skier. So explain how to get started.

It is not necessary to live in the Alps

“I grew up training on a ski slope in Sheffield, Ski Village. You may be surprised how many ski slopes there are in the UK. There was a time when there were about 70. Anyway, you don’t have to come from a mountainous country with lots of snow to get into the sport. In the UK there is probably a man-made track or ski center within an hour or so of most accommodation. “

Once you’re comfortable doing a 180 or 360 in a little jump, everything else will fit in.

Paddy Graham, British freeskier

“On a classic trail, most people use flat-tailed skis. But freestyle skis have a double nose, which means they’re elevated at both ends, allowing you to go. The poles you hold on the Freestyle skis also tend to be shorter to reduce the risk of them getting tangled between your legs if you snag your skis. “

Paddy Graham in Japan

© Pally Learmond / Red Bull Content Group

“Whether you’re on or off the track, safety is paramount. Make sure you wear a helmet and don’t be forced to do what’s wrong with you. There are no rules, it’s just about expressing yourself, doing tricks or exploring. the mountain. Have fun because in the end, that’s all that matters. “

Try skiing backwards

“The first thing you can try to learn is to ski backwards. You just have to control your skis and keep them parallel, and get used to looking over your two shoulders, observing what is happening behind you. Always be aware of the environment around you. “

Train on a trampoline

“Aerial awareness is a fundamental part of being a good skier. When I was a child, my mother sent me to do extracurricular activities at the local recreation center, including the trampoline, which taught me to control my body. I was going skiing. once a week and the rest did tricks that he had seen on TV on the trampoline.In short, for freestyle skiing the best training off piste is to go on a trampoline, to bounce and get used to being in the air, grabbing your feet and placing your body in different positions ”.

Paddy Graham in action

© Christian Stadler

“Always start small, developing your skills gradually. Most of what you will do will depend on your ability to make a small jump. Once you feel comfortable you can either do a 180 or a 360, or even ski backwards doing small ones. jumps, everything else will fall into place. After six months, you can probably do a 180 turn, a half turn, or even a 360 turn, or a full turn. “

“After six months, you should set a goal to master a few tricks. The safety grip is the easiest. It involves bending and gripping the foot. The Japanese grip is another good example. It’s about reaching the back of the legs. And grab the feet. There’s the Mute Grab where you cross the skis and grab the front, while the Tail Grab is where you get to the rear and grab the front.

don’t go blind

“One of the most important things to know when starting out is that you should always identify your landing site. Especially if you are sharing a trail with other skiers, you should always look at where you will land.”

Stand firm during your jumps

“For many people who are trying their first jumps, instinct leads them to crouch first and then jump. Let the ramp do the work and stay on your feet when you jump. Obviously keep your knees bent, but if you squat too low don’t He will be able to stand up due to the G-force and will end up with no balance at all. “

Don’t lean back during landings.

“It’s all about balance and physical strength. If you’ve already found your balance, you know you don’t want to land in a rear position. Keep your weight centered, or even slightly forward, and use your power to duck. Touch the snow and Get up. Otherwise, you might fall. “

“To perfect a jump and maintain control when your body is turning, the position of your head plays an important role. Always keep your head up and looking forward. If you are jumping and looking at the ground, the rest of your body maintains the head up. keeps balance. “

Use the rails at your disposal

“Most of the slopes have different size rails for you to practice on. Some are plastic and are three feet wide. Once you’ve successfully skied one of them, learn to turn and get used to jumping on your skis. One Once I’ve done that, it goes from a rail that is at ground level to a rail where you have to jump. Balance is key. What I use a lot at home is a balance board, which looks like a skateboard but has a roller underneath. .. “

graham rice

© Christian Stadler / Red Bull Content Pool

Find out about the snowparks

“There is a resort in Laax, Switzerland, that has a very famous snowpark that extends over the middle of the mountain. There is even a Freestyle Academy at the foot of that park, with a skatepark, special trampolines and roller skis for training outside the snow. “. In America, there is a place called Woodward in Park City, Utah, where there are diving boards and foam pits where ‘you can do less risky tricks than on the track.’

Don’t just follow the clues

“In the world of freeski, there is freeride, or cross-country skiing, where you go off-piste in virgin snow. Once you have the ability to safely ski off-piste, you have the equipment and you know the skills. avalanche risks, you can go anywhere in the world where there is snow and have fun. “

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