Summer Trick Tip: Backflip with John Symms

Comments by Shay Williams/

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Ah, summer camps. Stocked with some of the best pros and coaches, they are the place to learn new tricks. But we wanted to give you a little insider info to prepare you. So this summer we'll be dropping tidbits of knowledge that we've gathered over the years from the guys and gals who know best.

Here we have former pro, prolific blogger and blackflip master John Symms running you through the backflip*. The staple of any skiers bag of tricks, the backflip looks good everywhere from the park to the pipe to the backcountry. 


Step 1:
Wake up. Choose a soothing alarm that gently and gradually brings you out of your sleep. Today's a big day, and the last thing you want is to have a jarring start to it.

Step 2:
Get on the chairlift. Hold both poles in your inside hand. Look over your outside shoulder, grab onto the chair, and sit down. If you're in a middle seat and you can't grab a chair bar, hold onto a friend's hand. This will steady you as you sit down, and it might also strengthen your relationship with your friend.

Step 3:
Go to the terrain park. If you're not sure where it is, consult a trail map. It will be marked by an orange region. If you're still having trouble, follow a snowboarder. Many mountains call their terrain parks "snowboard parks." This is because they are primarily meant for snowboarders.

Step 4:
Find a jump. Snowboard parks customarily offer a wide variety of ramps to get airborne. The best ramp for your backflip is a tabletop, as it will maximize your airtime and, consequently, the amount of time you'll get to "hang it out" upside down. Advanced backflippers like to take their backflips to less commonly backflipped ramps, like jump knuckles, and rail takeoffs.

Step 5:
Do a backflip. Hopefully you've practiced this on a trampoline or diving board before you try it on skis. Whatever you do, don't land while you're upside down.

Step 6:
Pop and don't lock. A backflip is just like a straight air, except you go upside down. As you reach the takeoff, pop evenly off of both feet and set your backflip with your hips and core — not by flinging your head back. Keep your head straight on your shoulders and stay loose and relaxed. You're going to come around.

Step 7:
Let them see that fancy footwork. Once you've started your backflip, push your feet through the rotation. Leading with your feet gives you a lot more control than looking with your head. Once you see the landing, push your feet toward it and extend your legs to get ready for impact, just like you would on any other trick. Think to yourself, "damn, this is way easier than I thought it would be."

Step 8:
Ride away. Once you land, drape your hands casually at your sides and gradually and smoothly shift one hand in front of you and the other behind. This rotation of the hands will at once emphasize your mastery of the trick and produce the illusion that you were spinning at some point. But you weren't spinning at all.

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p: Matt Harvey, l: Whistler Blackcomb, BC, Canada

*Not guaranteed to be funny to everyone.