As big air makes its Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018 with the women’s qualifiers, it’s a good time to brush up on the impressive aerial tricks on display in the freestyle snowboarding events, matched to their deliciously intriguing names.
Anyone for roast beef? How about a melon grab? If you found yourself feeling hungry during the snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle competitions, you’re in for another tummy-rumbling time as the latest addition to the Winter Olympic programme, big air, keeps the big tricks coming.
“What exactly is a chicken salad?” was the question from one reporter after a competitor recounted his run in the snowboard slopestyle event.
The athlete explained this was where the rider reaches between their legs with their rear hand to grab the heel edge of the board, while keeping one leg extended.
Other tricks to feature during the snowboard events at Phoenix Snow Park have included “roast beef”, “melon” and “indy” – used to denote different types of “grabs”. The array of breathtaking flips include the “wildcat” and “tamedog”.
In fact, many of the tricks seen in snowboard owe their origins to skateboarding and other extreme sports.
All the spinning tricks, such as the “cork” (which can go up or down and left or right) and the “stale fish” (a grab on the heelside edge of the board and which was coined by famous US skateboarder Tony Hawk after a visit to a Swedish training-camp canteen), are paired with a number that denotes the degrees of rotation performed.
Hawk, widely regarded as one of skateboarding’s great pioneers and the first man to land a fabled 900 (a two-and-a-half revolution aerial spin that has crossed over from skateboarding to snowboarding and other sports), says the rebellious nature of extreme sports has led to the odd names.
“The basic rule is if you did it first, you get to name it,” Hawk said. “Skateboarding has always been irreverent, so we liked to keep the names silly and full of puns.”
One of the most popular tricks seen at the Bokwang Phoenix Snow Park is the “Cab” – short for “Caballerial”, a spinning move named after another skateboarding pioneer, Steve Caballero.
“In skateboarding, it is a no-handed 360 aerial where you ride up the wall backwards and land forwards. Since the snowboard is attached to your feet, almost any backwards spinning move starts with a Cab,” explains Hawk.
McTwists and Tomahawks
The forward flipping backside 540, otherwise known as the “McTwist”, is another trick to have crossed over from skateboarding. First performed by Mike McGill – another legendary US skateboarder – it is now an integral part of the snowboarding lexicon.
US rider Shaun White, who won his third Olympic men’s halfpipe gold medal at PyeongChang 2018, is credited with creating a double McTwist, which includes a 720-degree rotation and which he executed for the first time en route to winning his second halfpipe gold at Vancouver 2010.
White has been equally inventive in PyeongChang, busting out a “Double McTwist 1260”, during his halfpipe victory lap. Not content with that name, however, he now wants the trick to be known as a “Tomahawk”, after a large steak he had at the Winter X Games in Aspen (USA).