The winter of 2010/2011 was a dismal snow year. We were stuck on-piste most of the winter and by the traditional February ski vacation we were bored. So what do you do if you are young, active and pliable like my son? Take a Freestyle ski class. Freestyle skiing is the act of combining ski techniques with aerobatics.
His first two classes focused on speed and balance. They learned, contrary to common belief, that you don’t need excessive speed nor height to make cool jumps. Plus you tend to lean slightly forward rather than backward upon landing. They learned jumps like the Daffy and Mute, as well as the Rail Slide (link to tricks). On the third day, he attempted and succeeded to make a 360 degree rotation.
Every year, my son participates in the same one week, half-day Freestyle class (link to class video). He can now do 360s off of small moguls and has moved on to 180s which are tricky due to the backward landing. He continues to attempt 540s and front flips -“only if there is deep powder in which to crash.” There are always new kids and “local” kids of varying levels meeting up at the park. He and his friends sometimes take their shovels to make their own snow park; thus attracting even more kids to join the fun. All-in-all it is a good, supportive group.
If you think this may be a sport for you or your child, it is good to keep a few things in mind. First, special skis are needed. You can choose true freestyle skis (extremely light and easy-to-turn in the air) or an all-mountain freestyle ski (light enough for rotations but solid enough for deep powder). In either case, the tips on both sides need to be curved up so you can ski backwards. Our family has chosen all-mountain skis.
Secondly, take a class. Jumping, without knowing what you are doing, can be extremely dangerous. I once skied with a snowboarder who took a jump far too fast. He broke two ribs and pulled a groin muscle.
Lastly, be prepared for the possibility that you or your child loves it. The jumps will become more and more ambitious while the bruises and sprains become more painful. I admit I worry every weekend that my son will seriously hurt himself. It is a dangerous sport and let’s face it, teenagers believe they are invincible.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.