10 Quick and Easy Ski Tricks to Learn FastPublished on 05/22/2023 · 10 min readSki Expert Kenji Huff shares 10 ski tricks that you can learn quickly to help you look steezy in the park and on the mountain. Make the mountain your playground!
Photo by Jörg Angeli
Freestyle skiing is an excellent way to spice things up a little during your day on the ski slope. A fantastic way of accomplishing this is by throwing ski tricks in the terrain park. Here, you will usually find jumps, halfpipes, and rails. Experienced riders love throwing spins, flips, and grabs here to their heart’s content. However, why limit yourself to just the park? By making the entire mountain your playground, you can have some of the most fun ski days ever.
Here are 10 ski tricks that you can learn quickly to help you look steezy in the park and on the mountain. You could even do these off of moguls or in fresh powder if you dare!
We will start with the basic ski tricks which will help you build your confidence as your ability progresses, and then you can increase the size of your ski trick arsenal. As the article goes on, the tricks will get continually more difficult. The right gear, specifically twin-tip skis, is highly recommended for all of these tricks! This article is written primarily for skiers, but snowboarders can learn a thing or two as well.
If you’ve dabbled at all into jumping on your skis, you likely know the pop technique. The pop is where you compress your legs and jump vertically when you come close to the jump point. Your leg compression gives you enough force to launch yourself into the air. The ollie is a slightly more challenging move but is a great place for a beginner trick-thrower to start.
First, lean forward to anticipate the take-off. Next, shift all of your weight backward onto the back of the skis. Your tails will bend and the tips will lift off the ground. As your tips rise off the ground, push your weight back forward. The sudden spring will cause you to launch up into the air.
One of the hardest parts of any ski trick is the initial jump. Increasing the number of ways you can take off from the ground allows you to be more creative and adaptable to the jumps you are hitting. It also allows you to maximize your air time!
The shifty is one of the most iconic and useful freestyle tricks known to shredders. A shifty is a counter-rotation maneuver. This means that the upper half of your body will be spinning in the opposite direction of the lower half of your body. A shifty is useful because it can help you adjust for under or over-rotated spins. It can also help you make subtle adjustments in the air when approaching a rail.
To do this, pop and twist your hips, knees, and feet in one direction and move your torso and arms in the other direction. If you were to do a right shifty, your torso and arms would rotate left. Before you land, simply unwind the rotation and land with your upper body and lower body in line.
The nollie, or nose-ollie, is a reverse ollie. A nollie is where you generate the initial pop from the tips of your skis instead of the tails. Mastering this trick will give you a stylish variation in your jumping when hopping over rollers or onto rails.
First, shift your weight over the back of your skis. Next, shift your weight forward quickly while keeping your knees bent. During this motion, pull your skis backward by sliding your feet back. Then, apply a lot of forward pressure to the toes of your boots. Once you feel that the tips of your skis are loaded, begin extending your knees while pushing your hips back to the center to pop into the air.
A 180, or a 180-degree spin, is a must-have in every trick skier’s arsenal. This trick involves your whole body performing a 180-degree turn in the air that results in you riding in an orientation backward to what you began in, so it helps if you are comfortable riding switch!
To do this, first, gain moderate speed while skiing downhill - you don't need to be moving at high speeds, but you want to be sure you have enough momentum. Begin twisting your body in the direction you would like to spin. Simultaneously crouch down and shift your weight to your uphill ski. Pop in the air and use the momentum of your twisting motion to turn 180 degrees in the air. Make sure you keep your eyes up! Both feet should land at the same exact time. Your body will likely be crouched to absorb the impact and that is a-okay. Feel free to ride the landing out until you stop.
5. Nose Butter 180
Nose butters are incredibly simple tricks that look amazing and can increase your “wow” factor when performing tricks. These can be thrown anywhere on the mountain from small bumps or off of rollers. They can even be done off of a kicker! Knowing the feeling of having your weight over the tips of the skis is crucial to this trick.
Push your weight on top of the front of your skis until you can feel your tails lifting off of the ground. This is done by pressing your shins into the front of your boots. If you’ve practiced your nollies, this shouldn’t be that hard to do.
You likely know how to butter a 180 with your weight over the middle of your skis. By using the entire ski as a pivot point, you can do a 180-degree turn on your skis without leaving the ground and without losing much speed. A nose butter 180 is very similar to this. The natural progression is to begin adding more and more nose pressure as the rotation into the 180 begins. Your pivot point will change from the entire ski to be focused on the tip region. Practice this a lot, it will likely not happen on your first attempt. Through repetition, you will gain better balance and it will make this move easier. You’ll know you’ve gotten the trick down once you butter a 180 completely on the noses of your skis!
6. Switch 180
A switch 180 is simply a 180 done while skiing in reverse. If you know how to do a regular 180, great news, your muscle memory is already there! Learning how to do a switch 180, like all other tricks, will simply take repetition.
One tip that may help is to begin trying to switch 180 while both of your skis are on their uphill edge. By using the fall line and spinning downhill, you will minimize the risk of catching an edge as you attempt a switch 180.
7. Tail Butter 180
So we covered a 180, a nose butter 180, and then a switch 180—but what about a tail butter 180? Look no further. Much like a nose butter 180, tail butters can be thrown off of small bumps or rollers to add that extra flair to your riding. However, your body weight isn’t being thrown over the tip of your skis anymore, but instead, the tail of your skis.
Remember how you were taught to “not get in the backseat?” Well, a tail butter will be a little counterintuitive at first. A tail butter will require you to be leaning back a considerable amount in order to transfer the load to the tails of the skis and to lift the noses off of the ground.
One fantastic way to practice these is to incorporate your tail butter into your switch 180. As you are winding up to generate the torque necessary to do the 180-degree spin in the air, lean back and aggressively put your weight on your heels. You will find that, like a nose butter, the tips of your skis will want to leave the ground as the tails of the skis become loaded. Through repetition, your balance will increase and this move will come more naturally.
8. 50/50 on a Box
Boxes are a fantastic intro to the wide world of rail tricks. They are generally wide and flat compared to the skinnier rails we are all used to seeing in competitions and in YouTube videos. A 50/50 is where you basically ski straight over the box. It may seem easy, but there are still elements where you can practice!
Two things to get into the habit of doing are popping onto and off of the box. Learning the feeling of the abrupt transition between snow to air, the box will help your body get used to the feeling when sliding on boxes and eventually rails. Try to keep your feet shoulder-width apart or closer. Boxes may seem super easy, but they can be an invaluable practice tool for working on your rail fundamentals.
9. Box Slide to Switch
These last two tricks both pertain to boxes. This is much like a 180. You begin the trick facing one direction, and end it facing the other. However, the similarities end there.
A critical thing to making a box slide successful is where you place your body weight. The natural thing will be for you to keep your body weight largely vertical above the box. This will actually have your feet likely swept out from underneath you because the box is going to be pointed at an angle that is lower than horizontal, as it follows the slope. While you may think that you are landing squarely onto the box, you actually end up with your body weight behind your center of gravity, and your feet will slide out from underneath you.
Instead, try to land perpendicularly on the box to the angle it makes with the slope. The box slide isn’t a hockey-stop motion! Once you have successfully landed onto the box at about 90 degrees through your rotation, simply pop off of the box, finish off the remaining portion of the rotation, and ski it out switch.
10. Box Slide to Forwards
The final trick is a box slide to forwards. In the last trick, we learned about how to do a 180 on top of a box. Think about a box slide to forwards as a 90-on, 90-off. You start and end the trick facing the same direction.
This trick is a fantastic trick to learn as it is a stepping stone between boxes and rails. A box slide to forwards will have part of your foot off of the box during the maneuver. Getting accustomed to this feeling is a natural progression towards having only a small portion of your foot on a rail.
To begin this trick, you will approach the box with one of its edges in between your feet. Keep in mind that this is different from the 50/50 box slide and the box slide to switch! When you pop, land perpendicular to the box. If you’ve done it correctly, the edge of the box should be directly underneath your feet! This is important because it allows you to dig your heels in which helps stop your first 90-degree rotation onto the box and start the second 90-degree rotation off of the box. Mastering this technique will greatly help your park skills as you begin to attempt more challenging tricks on rails and boxes!
Once you master these 10 tricks, you can continue to progress your park skills and add in grabs, increase your spins to 360-degree turns, and much, much more! If you have any questions or want to find the perfect twin-tip skis for these tricks, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated!