You see kids in the park who can’t ski switch (backward), but it doesn’t stop them from trying to jump switch. These misguided attempts usually end in a splatter-or multi-person carnage. You’ve got to hone your skills at skiing backward on flat, groomed terrain before airing moves in the park.
Take two weeks out of the park and spend the whole time skiing switch on groomed runs until you’re comfortable in all conditions. Then move on to skiing crud and more variable terrain.
The hardest thing is learning to move from skiing backward to skiing forward again-dubbed “lead change.” To perfect this, make sure you’re in an athletic stance, feet slightly closer than shoulder width, and hands in front of your eyes. Use a small jump to get a little air and tuck your knees to your chest. Throughout the 180-degree spin, focus on your landing and then drive the inside edge of your downhill ski into the hill when you hit the snow.
Once you’re armed with switch skills in all terrain and snow conditions, throwing switch air in the park will become second nature.
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Weight: 140 pounds
Home Area: Big Mountain, MT
Accomplishments: Four-time ESPN X Games gold medalist; three-time U.S. Open Champion (one in Big Air, two in Slopestyle competitions); ESPN X Games Superpipe silver medalist.
Worst Learning Experience: “When I was new to freeriding, I’d get so riled up and scared about trying new tricks that it would work me until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’d think, ‘What if I crash and burn? If I miss it, is it really gonna hurt?’ Then, when I’d finally try, it was never as hard as I thought it would be, yet I wasted all of that energy for no reason. Now if I’m trying a new trick in the park I try to focus on how capable I am of doing these tricks, and not expending energy on what might happen.”