Freestyle skiing seems to be progressing in the blink of an eye. Around the time the first twin tip skis were first developed, it was an impressive feat to simply slide a rail while skiing. Fast forward a few years, and rail skiing has graduated to the point where skiers are spinning into, during, and off various slippery obstacles of all shapes and sizes.
So how does one progress beyond simply sliding rails the old-fashioned way? Spinning into and out off rails is one of the next stepping stones once your standard railslide and spins out become a bit too routine. One of the most common ways skiers perform that kind of move is with a 270 on, 270 off a rail, which is conveniently the subject of the latest “Editor Trick Tip.”
Like all the other editions of this regular feature, this Ski Channel web editor guides you not only through the process of learning the trick, but also demonstrates each move via video and photos. The hope is that by merging both the skier and writer into one person, the result will be the most cohesive trick tip possible, as the person writing the how-to guide has verified experience taking their own advice to heart.
Prerequisites: The 270 on, 270 off a down rail is one of the more advanced rail moves. First and foremost, it’s vital to be able to slide normal down rails. If you aren’t comfortable grinding down rails already, I would suggest practicing more on straight rails and boxes before progressing to down rails. In addition, it’s very helpful to already be capable of doing 270 on, 270 off regular flat boxes. Boxes are almost always more forgiving than the straight metal rails used for this trick, and can help develop the fundamentals needed to progress to this more technical move.
For the purposes of this trick tip, this writer assumes the skier can already do normal railslides on down rails, and has previously done 270s onto flat boxes.
Step 1: Finding the right obstacle to first try this move on is important. Ideally the rail will be like this beauty at Mammoth Mountain where it is approachable from both the left and right sides, and should feature an average-sized lip or kicker onto the feature. Having too small of lip can prove challenging when learning this trick, as you’ll see in the following steps.
Step 2: Once the skier has found the proper jib feature to learn on, it’s important to visualize and think about how we perform the 270 on, 270 off the rail.
Important: One of the hardest things about this trick is to avoid catching our skis on the rail before we begin sliding on the rail. The key to avoiding this lies in making sure we not only get a strong “pop” off the lip, but also making sure to avoid spinning the 270 too early into the trick. Essentially, the process begins with the pop, making sure your ski tips clear well above the rail, rotating the 270, and then landing safely on the rail.
Spinning too soon can cause the skier to catch their skis and instantly stop rotating. Usually this results in a nasty spill, something we are trying to avoid.
Step 3: Now that we know the secret towards conquering this move, we want to warm up with some basic railslides on the same feature to be used for our new trick. Get comfortable with the speed before jumping onto the obstacle, feel how slippery the rail is on your bases, and just get the blood flowing.
Step 4: Here we will finally try out the 270 on, 270 off the rail. If you’re spinning counter-clockwise, you’ll want to approach the rail from the rightside (as seen in pictures/videos above). Instead of being completely parallel to the rail with your skis, direct your skis so they make roughly a 20-degree angle with your tips facing towards the rail. That little bit of angle will allow you to properly direct your spin onto the rail so you land in the ideal balancing position.
Step 5: Come in with a moderate amount of speed, which will reduce the pop required for the trick. When you feel your skis leave the lip of the jump, start to guide them through the first 90 degrees of the spin, so your tips clear the surface of the rail. Do not finish the full 270-degree rotation until you make sure your tips won’t catch on the rail below.
Once you feel your clearance is appropriate (somewhere around the first 90 degrees) it’s probably time to finish out the remaining 180.
Step 6: If you’ve done the move correctly thus far, you should have rotated just under 270 degrees before touching down on the rail. When the 270 onto the rail is done, you should be hovering just a few inches over the rail and begin preparing to land on top of the slippery rail.
Make sure to land in a balanced position so your weight is distributed appropriately between both bases. Landing in a position where you’re leaning too far into the hill will cause you to slip out, and leaning too far forward could result in catching an edge. The best advice is just to remember how we normally slide a down rail, and imagine the same balancing position achieved in that situation.
Step 7: Touch down! Congratulations, if you’ve gotten to this point, you’re doing everything right so far. This is the point in the trick where balance becomes extra important, as we want to stand with our weight distributed slightly aft so we can slide the length of the feature.
Step 8: Start slowly initiating a little bit of extra rotation (beyond 270 degrees) while continuing to slide towards the end of the rail. This will allow us to begin the final 270 spin off the railing.
Step 9: Providing a little bit of pressure on the inside edge of our uphill ski will allow the skier to grip the ski enough to begin the final rotation out of the rail. Also helping will be the initial 270 onto the rail, as it will easily allow us to maintain our rotational momentum, helping complete the final 270 out.
Step 10: As you’re rotating the 270 off the rail, make sure you adjust the angle of your skis to match the steepness of the associated landing.
Step 11: Land with confidence, and keep practicing the move until it becomes totally fluid and controlled. The more times you do the trick, the easier it will become until you don’t even need to think about the individualized steps that make up this difficult, technical rail trick.
Progression from here: After mastering the 270 on, 270 off, there are many ways to up the difficulty level of the trick. For example, the move can be brought to longer and more technical rails such as those with kinks, smaller lips, or even with stair-sets such as on an “urban” rail.
Of course, there’s also the option of adding a “pretzel” spin, meaning you spin onto and off the rail in two different spin directions. For example, you would spin to the left for the first 270 onto the rail, slow your momentum, and then spin off the rail to right during the final 270.