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How to Ride a Snowboard in the Halfpipe - For Beginner to Advanced Riders

By Robert Rousseau,
Here’s the thing: Most people out there, at one time or another, have watched professional skateboarders perform in the Halfpipe. If you are a part of this majority, the fluidity of their movements, particularly while performing tricks, has no doubt left you breathless. Not to mention, it looks like a whole heckuva lot of fun, doesn’t it? Well, guess what?

Many of those breathtaking Halfpipe tricks can be done with a snowboard as well.

Not too long ago, snowboarders were without Halfpipes. In fact, for years their version of these U shaped structures were gullies or trenches. Still, humanity’s curiosity eventually took over and led us to what had once been the sole domain of skateboarding: The Halfpipe

And with that transformation came hosts of exciting new maneuvers and tricks.

First thing’s first, though. Before getting into some of the popular Halfpipe tricks employed by snowboarders, more novice riders/ learners will need to become acquainted with some background information.

Halfpipe Specs

A Halfpipe is a U shaped structure with walls on either side (making it a U shaped bowl, if you will). It is made up of several elements, such as:

Deck: The horizontal flat platform at the top of the wall.

Entry Ramp: Where you start riding (at the bottom of the U).

Flat: A flat is the middle floor of the Halfpipe. It’s named the flat because it is flat.

Lip: The top edge portion of the Halfpipe wall.

Transitions: This refers to the curved part of the structure that meets the flat noted above and the verticals (noted next). In other words, transitions refer to the part of the structure between the flats (horizontal section of the Halfpipe) and Verticals (the vertical section of the Halfpipe).

Verticals: Refers to the vertical part of the wall just above the transitions and before the lip.

Riding the Halfpipe

Some other terms to know.

Backside Spin: When a rider turns their back into the spin first.

Frontside Spin: When a rider turns their chest into the spin first.

Frontside Wall: Actually could be either side of a Halfpipe; it depends on the rider. If a rider is going up a wall on their frontside (toe side), then the wall they’re ascending (at that time) is considered the frontside wall.

Backside Wall: When a rider is going up the wall on their backside (or heel side).

Fakie: Riding backwards.

Grab: When a snowboarder grabs his board in the air.

Halfpipe Tricks For Beginners

Some less advanced snowboarding tricks in the Halfpipe follow:

There’s hardly anything more enjoyable to a seasoned snowboarder than a Halfpipe. Want to know why? Then read on about some of the fun things that can be done.

Jump Turns: Once you speed up enough, you’ll be able to take a little jump at the lip. Doing so and turning is labeled, a ‘jump turn’.

Slide Turns: Simple. You go up and down the slopes. The hard part for beginners to grasp is that the edge you ascend with will be the opposite of the edge you descend with.

Straight Air: When a rider turns in the air 180 degrees while grabbing the board. You will reenter the pipe in the same direction as the takeoff (no spinning).

Generally speaking on jumps, riders should keep their knees close to their body while in the air. Further, they (your knees) should be bent when landing.

Advanced Snowboarding Tricks in the Halfpipe

Alley Oop: First, it should be noted than the term ‘Alley Oop’ refers to any Halfpipe move that involves rotating 180 degrees or more when traveling uphill. In other words, rotating frontside on the backside wall or backside on the frontside wall.

Probably the most popular Alley Oop maneuver, however, refers to the 180 degree turn.

In order to perform this trick as a rider, you’ll need to achieve a significant amount of speed. Further, as you approach the lip, your board will need to be flat.

In order to follow through on an Alley Oop, riders are required to turn their board 180 degrees in the air (grabbing the board will help to spur this on). While doing this, riders will also need to turn their bodies frontside (if going up the backside wall) and the board in the direction of their turn.

After completing the move, release the board and make sure your board is flat as it approaches the lip again to descend.

360 Air to Fakie: This trick can be performed to varying degrees. However, any air to fakie maneuver requires you to approach the wall riding forward, make no turn, and land riding backwards.

The most popular of the air to fakie maneuvers in the Halfpipe, however, is probably the 360 Air to Fakie.

In order to perform this maneuver, you’ll need to approach the lip with speed, crouch down, and shift your weight back. Twist your body around entirely into the direction you’re spinning and land with a flat board.

Since you’re on a Halfpipe, you’ll descend riding backwards (the 360 degree turn will leave you staring in the same direction that you were when ascending the wall).

Please note again, as was stated earlier, that this trick can be done to varying degrees.

Frontside 720: This is an advanced trick (in other words, if you’re just starting out, don’t try this yet). Further, without a significant amount of speed when approaching the lip, as with many of these tricks (but particularly this one), the Frontside 720 won’t work.

While in the air, you’ll be required to complete two full turns by rotating your body and board backwards. Note that the second turn will have to be a very quick one.

Land as close as you can to the lip.

Remember again that this is an advanced trick; other attempts such as 360’s and 540’s should be attempted first.

Please note that this list of snowboarding tricks is by no means a tutorial. It is simply meant to offer some information regarding the various tricks that one might try or see being done in a Halfpipe. Under no circumstances should any of these tricks be performed without significant snowboarding experience or professional lessons.

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