This trick is so simple you shouldn’t need instructions – but here they are, for those of us who do…
When I told a buddy I was writing this piece, his response was: “If someone needs help doing a 180, they may as well give up skiing. Just look at the darn photos and copy it!” He’s got a point in that it is one of the most basic tricks in freestyle, which takes little skill (assuming you can already ski and are confident-ish at riding backwards): jump, turn 180 degrees, land, and you’re done. Easy! Genuinely, there is very little athleticism or technical ability required for a 180. It is literally a question of deciding to turn your skis and body to face the other direction. You just have to commit and go for it.
Saying that, there are a few pointers that I can give you to help you on your spinning way. And the good news is that, as easy as they are, 180s and even the mystical Zero-Spin (look it up) still feel and look damn cool. OK, this one in the photos doesn’t, but just think of a big floaty, lazy, stomped air. Beautiful.
1. Start Small
So, where do you start? Where did Pep Fujas start? Here. Barely leaving the ground off some gentle little lip on the side of the piste (make sure you look for other piste traffic before airing into one). The smaller, the better. In fact, before you even attempt a lip, you can practise standing on the flat and simply jumping and spinning, trying to land with your feet parallel 180 degrees from where you started. This will also help you decipher which direction you feel most comfortable spinning.
If you want to stomp clean, square 180s with confidence, this is the magic ingredient. As you approach the jump bend your knees, then as you rise up the lip extend your legs – this is the all important pop. Planting your pole just before you take off can help initiate the spin too. As soon as your skis leave the snow, turn your shoulders and head in the direction you want to spin. Either twist your body and your feet will follow, or just keep completely square and bring ’er round. No need for a huge wind-up and huck here!
From the moment you start sliding towards the jump to the moment you land, commit. Believe in yourself and your ability to complete a 180. (Repeat after me: “I can do it! I can do it!”) If you don’t believe you can do it, then 90 degrees in, you will stall the spin, catch your edges and fall on your arse. Not committed!
Do not land with straight legs. Instead bend your knees and ride it out. Think about landing over your toes. If you get thrown forward a little that is OK, but if you land backseat, things could get messy. Don’t rush to revert (spin around the regular way). The instinct is to panic now you are travelling backwards. As long as you have space, you are in no rush, so chill and ride it out. When ready and balanced, chuck a quick revert and flash a smile at the ladies/fellas. Shazam!
Amp it up
Once these dinky piste lip spins become second nature, start trying ones on park jumps, rollers, heck, even try buttering into them, or ollie-ing into them. Better yet, add a shifty to it (tuck feet up in the air and drop ski tips down toward one side). Shifty one way, and then bring your skis back in line with your body and complete the mind-bending simplicity of a shifty-180 à-la Candide. Then of course, you can wind up the spins – 360, 540, 1080…
Photos: James Geen