Once you’re able to make turns on your skis, it’s natural to want to get in the air. Hitting jumps on your skis can be incredibly fun. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can start adding grabs and learning other freestyle tricks like 360s and backflips.
Learning to jump on skis is essential for any freestyle skier from park to big mountain. Jumping is a fundamental skill that is a building block for everything else you’ll learn in freestyle skiing. Before attempting to hit a jump, be sure you’re very comfortable with basic skills. This involves making turns as well as skiing at high speeds.
I always prefer park jumps for learning because they are perfectly built and there should be a variety of sizes to choose from depending what mountain you’re riding. Natural features work as well, but it tends to be harder to find a good beginner hit. When first learning, start on the smallest jump you can find and work your way up. There are a few factors that go into jumping on skis: speed, body position, and pop.
All 3 of these factors play a big role in successfully hitting a jump on your skis. For small jumps, speed should be easy to judge. It becomes harder as you start hitting bigger features. Coming up short on a jump, or “knuckling”, is no fun and is hard to ride away from. If you can follow someone into the jump who has hit it before and match their speed, do so. Once you have a good idea of the speed required, you’re ready to hit the jump. Approach the jump with mellow turns. As you reach the takeoff, transition to your flat bases and bend your knees. As you leave the takeoff, extend your knees slightly to get “pop”, which helps you gain height and clear the jump. Keep your body relaxed and don’t stiffen up.
As you hit the landing, put your skis down flat based. Once you have control of yourself, immediately carve onto an edge to keep yourself in control and prevent yourself from catching an edge. Bend your knees to absorb the impact. As you become more comfortable, you can begin hitting bigger jumps as well as learning freestyle tricks. Also, grabbing your skis can help keep you locked in and calm in the air. One of the easiest beginner grabs is the safety grab, which is either hand on your outer edge right next to your boot.
Once you learn to hit jumps on your skis, endless possibilities are created. The mountain becomes your playground as everything starts to look like a jump takeoff. Have fun and comment below with questions or progress!