VAIL, Colorado - Did the announcer just say "frontside 1080 double cork?" Huh? What does that even mean?
If you find yourself asking these questions during the men's and women's halfpipe semi finals today, hopefully you've kept a Vail Daily handy because we're going to break down these sometimes ridiculous sounding snowboarding terms into layman's terms. Don't be afraid to ask one of the competitors what all this stuff means, too - they're usually pretty happy to explain it to those outside of their professional snowboarding world.
"We pretty much have our own language here in snowboarding," said Kelly Clark, an Olympic gold medalist and the most winningest woman in halfpipe history. "There's slang and different things just relative to our culture and our sport."
For example, frontside spinning depends on whether a rider's stance is regular or goofy. Goofy means the rider stands on their board with their right foot forward, while a regular stance means the left foot is forward. The stance determines which direction the rider faces, which in turn determines which side would be the so-called frontside or backside.
Clark has a regular stance, so when riding halfpipe, her frontside is the right wall - the wall that she's facing when she's pointed straight downhill.
So, spins that Clark makes on that right wall are going to be frontside spins.
Here's how the USA Snowboard Association explains the two sides:
"There are two directions of rotation: Frontside and backside. On a frontside rotation you are spinning off of your toes and on a backside rotation you are spinning off of your heels. Both these rotations can happen on both walls of the halfpipe. Since the walls of the halfpipe are called backside and frontside there can be some name confusion, but where the riders spins (on what wall) is not the main point. It is how the rider spins that is important.
Example: A rider that does a 720 on their frontside wall and then a cab 720 on their backside wall is doing frontside spins on both walls since going in cab (switch) on to the backside wall makes it a frontside rotation.
Example: A McTwist on the backside wall is a backside rotation. Example: A 540 on the backside wall is a backside rotation (more difficult), a 540 on the frontside wall is frontside rotation (easier)."
The numbers in a trick represent the number of spins, or rotations, a rider makes. A 180 is a half-rotation, a 360 is a full rotation, a 540 is a rotation and a half, a 720 is two full rotations, a 900 is two-and-a-half rotations and a 1080 is three full rotations. Some riders go beyond that, too, and hit 1260's.
Confused yet? There's more. Here's a list of some of the more common terms you'll hear during the halfpipe competitions today and Saturday:
• Alley-oop: A rotation of 180 degrees or more going uphill.
Air to fakie: To approach the wall riding forward, go airborne without rotation and land with the back leg in front.
• Backside: To lead with the heel-side edge.
• Frontside: The toe side of the board, and the direction the rider faces.
• Indy air: To take off leading with the heel side, with the rear hand grabbing between the bindings on the toe edge while the rear leg is straight.
• Japan air: To take off with the front hand grabbing the toe edge, the front knee tucked and the back arched while pulling the board level with the head.
• McTwist: Approach the wall riding forward, go airborne, rotate 540 degrees leading with the heel edge while doing a front flip and land riding forward.
• Method air: With knees bent, grab the heel edge with the leading hand while pulling the board level with the head.
• Mute grab: To grasp the toe edge of the board between the bindings with the leading hand.
• Rodeos: Rotations with a backwards flip. Can be done frontside or backside.
• Switch: The reverse of natural stance. Performing a switch trick has a higher level of difficulty than a regular stance trick.
• Tail: The rear tip of the snowboard.
• 360: One full rotation in the air.
• 540: One and one-half full airborne rotations.
• 720: Two full airborne rotations.
• 1080: The degrees of airborne rotations. The 1080 has three full rotations.
Source: The United States of America Snowboard Association judging criteria.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.