Turn Tricks

Flip Mode: Travis Rice and his Rodeo 540

Travis Rice     Photo: courtesy TGR

Travis Rice is casual, whether the 21-year-old rider for DC Shoes and Grenade Gloves is partying in Tokyo, freeriding Niseko, or tearing up the home turf in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It's an attitude that helps him pull off some hair-raising stunts, like this mid-air somersault in which you're briefly inverted, then land riding switch (snowboarding's version of "fakie"). "You just have to have confidence," Rice says. (Watch the video)

Before You Start: This trick is no rail slide in the park. "Baby steps," says Rice. "Don't try a rodeo until you can spin 540s comfortably and ride switch as well as you ride regular." Try finding access to a trampoline so you can practice away from the jeers of people on the chairlift and the ticket-clipping eyes of the Ski Patrol, who don't take kindly to groms blowing inverted tricks. Pick a powder day for on-snow time, as the landings will be more forgiving (sorry, East Coasters, break out the pads).

Approach: "Speed is the hugest part of this trick," Rice says. You need some serious air to pull it off, so find a good-sized jump and hit it a few times to gauge how much air you'll need, probably in the six- to eight-foot range.

Takeoff: Crouch down and turn your shoulders toward the tail of the board, but keep the board straight and flat, getting ready to unwind for the frontside trick. "Think about your upper and lower body as being separate," Rice says. "Start the trick with your upper body."

Airborne: Throw the trick by leading with your front shoulder. After popping off the lip, bring the shoulder up toward your back. Kick your back leg away from the mountain, sending your body into a flat spin. Now calm down, Keri Strug: While this flip can be done totally inverted, try to keep your body horizontal in the air, like you're break-dancing. "Your lower body should follow your front shoulder around like a rubber band," Rice says.

Landing: So there you are, nearly upside-down, spinning and flipping through the air. "Don't panic, it's a weird feeling," Rice says. "Just see the landing and think about getting that back foot down." The advantage of a frontside rodeo is that it allows you to see your landing clearly, which lets you adjust your spin mid-air. If it looks like you're going to over-rotate, extend your body to slow down the spin. If you need to spin more, tighten up. Once you land, check your speed by making a few turns riding switch, then spin back and leisurely carve down the mountain like it was nothing.

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