The fundamental freestyle trick: the 180 |

The fundamental freestyle trick: the 180

Kelly Coffey
Photo illustration by Matt IndenKelly Coffey demonstrates how to do a 180 on the slopes.

The 180 is a trick that never goes out of style. It’s a basic move that hones in the proper movements for spins in the air. When done right, it translates not only to bigger spins, but also to air in the halfpipe and getting onto rails. It’s a fundamental maneuver in the freestyle world.

The best place to start is with your skis off. Pop and spin 180 degrees while standing still. Pretty easy, but focus on keeping your core and arms strong. You should move as one unit, jumping off two feet, without winding up or flailing your arms. Practice spinning right and left to figure out what is easier for you. Take that direction to the hill.

With your skis on, you can try the same thing. With the extra weight, you won’t make it to the full 180 standing still, but it will give you the right sensations. Focus on the proper movements, not making it to 180 degrees.

Find a nice round roller where you can do a flatspin-180 (essentially an overzealous hockey stop). Aim straight for it. While you’re going over the roller, do the same movements you’ve been practicing, only in a less explosive manner. This way you feel the weightless sensations, but your skis stay on the snow. Come off switch and let yourself ride backwards for a few yards. The only difference between this drill and the real thing is that your skis stay on the snow.

For the real thing, find a small jump within your comfort zone. Ideally, the landing will be on a flat slope or going across the hill, not heading straight down. The mellow landing will help you commit to the spin. On your first run you can do the flatspin-180 at the lip to get comfortable with the jump. You’ve already honed in the movements through these drills – so go for it. You just need a small amount of air to bag this trick.

When you’ve dialed 180s in on small features, head to bigger jumps … and eventually into the terrain park. The bigger the jump, the slower the rotation, and the smoother this trick looks.

Next week: 360s.

Kelly Coffey is a freestyle trainer and instructor for the Vail Ski and Snowboard School. He is PSIA advanced-freestyle-accredited and level-III-certified. He appeared in Warren Miller’s film “Impact.” He also does freestyle tips segments for PlumTV.

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