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At 25, BURTON GLOBAL snowboarder Keir Dillon's job duties include fine-tuning his McTwist 900a front flip with two and a half rotations executed eight feet above the lip. For halfpipe dreamers, his first words of advice are simple: "You're going to fall tons. If you don't, you're not progressing." But before you take on the hordes of sixth-graders channeling Danny Kass at your local pipe, you need to master some basics. Dillon says anybody hoping to twist off the top of the pipe must be able to do front- and backside 180s off ordinary jumps. Another word to the wise: Spend time in the gym on a wobble board, executing medicine-ball twists to hone balance and build up your obliques.
When you're ready to rip, start by sliding down the halfpipe, carving up the walls two feet higher each time, making sure to hop, not slide, onto the opposite edge of your board when reaching the apex of each turn. When you've nailed five straight runs, try these steps: 1) From the top of the pipe, drop into the chute at a 45-degree angle to the fall line so you'll generate enough speed. Keep your weight on the board's high-side edgerelative to the slope of the hill, not the walls of the pipebend your knees, and maintain the edge all the way down, across the flat of the pipe, and back up the other side. 2) As you approach the lip, keep your shoulders aligned with your board. Pop off the lip into the air, then simultaneously grab the board with your trailing hand and rotate your torso 90 degrees. 3) Let go of the board and land in a crouch on the high-side edge with your weight distributed evenly over the board.
"To get even a foot above the lip could take a while," says Dillon, who admits it took him weeks to master aerials. For the rest of us, that translates into a long season of tumbles into the great white ravinebut who said big fun was easy?