With the passing of another week, we enter another edition in the growing stock of Editor’s Trick Tips. During each installment I myself will not only write the trick tip, but also be the one performing the corresponding trick, ensuring that readers can best understand how to go about learning the move from someone who regular executes the maneuver. This week we find ourselves studying up on the Rodeo 720.
Prerequisites: The Rodeo 720 is an advanced move that requires significant freestyle ski experience before attempting on snow. I would recommend being able to perform regular 720s on the jump you plan to first try the move on, and be very comfortable in the air, particularly while being inverted or off-axis. Also helpful in my eyes, is the ability to perform a standard “Lincoln Loop,” otherwise known as a barrel roll.
As I’ve suggested before with learning other tricks, the Rodeo 720 is a good trick to first try on something other than snow. Personally, the trampoline is my best friend for learning new air tricks, as I find it to be a pretty accurate barometer of your chances of stomping a move on the snow. If you’re comfortable tossing it on the tramp, you generally should feel pretty confident performing the move with skis. However, other great options include the use of a diving board (particular during those heat waves in the East right now) or water ramps if you can obtain access to a facility.
Come in hot to the jump; ready to drop your right shoulder if spinning to the left, or vice versa
Step 1: Perform a few test runs on the jump before actually attempting the Rodeo. Gauge the speed by performing a straight air a few times and maybe a 360 or two. If I haven’t done a Rodeo in a while, I frequently warm up with a Lincoln Loop to once again get used to dropping the shoulder and getting inverted. As a bonus, both tricks generally require the same speed to clear on a given jump.
Once I’ve done all that, I’ll visualize in my head exactly how the rotation is going to occur, particularly the take-off and the landing. I try to feel the trick in my brain, and think about all the potential blind spots during the course of the trick.
When I feel ready, I will drop into the jump at about average speed and get in an aggressive forward stance, while staying relaxed. As I approach the lip of the jump, I will make sure I get a strong pop off the take-off by almost pretending to do a straight air. Once I feel my tips begin to leave the surface of the jump, I spring off the balls of my feet and begin to drop my right shoulder.
Pop that lip and begin to drop the shoulder and spin onto your back at the same time
Step 2: The take-off to a Rodeo is very similar to a mix between a Lincoln Loop and a backflip. The dropping of the shoulder begins to bring your feet over your head, but at the same time you will rotate in a backwards-falling motion so that your legs will be positioned in front of you. It’s easy to think about this trick as if you’re doing a 90 degree spin into a backflip, once you’re in the air.
Stay nice and tucked as you will become increasingly more on your back like a traditional backflip
Step 3: As your momentum begins to push you further through the trick, you will naturally become more tucked up with your knees coming closer to your body. This point is ideal for initiating the grab of the trick. Stay relaxed, as this will serve as the first of two blind spots during the trick. Keep your confidence level up, and remain tucked.
Reach for that grab and tweak it hard
Step 4: This is the point in the trick where you will reach your maximum point of being inverted. Some skiers do their Rodeos more upside-down than others, but there is no real required way. Do what is most comfortable, but generally Rodeos get progressively less flip-oriented when adding rotations e.g. Rodeo 5s are more inverted than Rodeo 7s. It’s also at this moment where you can maximize the tweak of your respective grab, something that can help you control the speed of your spin.
Coming out of the flip, you will become more spin-oriented at this point
Step 5: At about 340 degrees into the trick, your legs will start to creep back under you. Additionally, you will once again be able to spot your landing as it comes into view. Use this time to orient yourself in the air, and try to hold your grab even at this point (I let go too soon).
The legs start coming back under your body
Step 6: In this step, your legs will continue to fall into position under your upper body, and your body will become increasingly upright. If you were going to take this to a Rodeo 5, you would be looking at the landing in order to spot landing switch. However, since we’re spinning a full 720, just stay relaxed and wait until you are almost completely upright.
You’re standing straight again, but keep those body part as low as possible before rotating the final 180
Step 7: At this point we could land switch and ride away like a normal 540. Instead, we are simply going to add an extra 180. This should come as one of the easier parts of the trick, as you have presumably already made it through any of the inverted/off-axis points in the trick if you find yourself here.
Spin out the last 180, and keep your arms down
Step 8: Try to keep your limbs and body together as you finish out the last 180 of the trick, and be ready to spot your landing with your body in a balanced, forward stance.
Afterbang to the chairlift
Step 9: Ride away from the trick before immediately riding up the lift to practice your newly stomped trick once more.
Progression from Here: Learning the Rodeo gives skiers quite a few options in how they best want to evolve the trick. For myself, I am more consistent with the move when I take it to a 720 than a 540, just because I believe its easy to over-rotate the 540 as you really need to stall your spin in order to avoid that problem. With that in mind, others might feel more capable doing one or the other, so practice trying to master both versions.
Beyond that, a bigger jump allows for the trick to turn into a Rodeo 9 or even bigger, however, the trick becomes increasingly more of an off-axis trick than an inverted maneuver as a result.
Grabs are probably the area that is most fun to work on after learning the trick, as they allow for numerous experimentation such as the famous “bow-n-arrow” grab, in which the skier appears to be shooting a bow-n-arrow by grabbing the near ski’s base and pulling it into their body, while extending the other leg to resemble the ancient weapon.
“Truck driver” grabs are also possible for all the yogi-type skiers out there flexible enough to reach the tips of both skis. The name is of course given as its appears to look like you’re tilting a steering wheel by holding your skis and spinning.
So get out there, have fun, but as always be safe and wear a helmet when skiing!