Once 3 p.m. rolls around and the afternoon slump kicks in I often find myself experiencing a lack of motivation that cannot be tackled, even with a pocket full of granola bars. Research shows that improved circulation and blood flow to the brain is invigorating for both the body and the mind so I decided that going head over heels via learning a backflip aka Wild Cat was the best way to make it to the last chair of the day.
The feeling of riding away from a Wild Cat has become a therapeutic routine for me. However, the trick was not easy to learn. I was once left quivering uncontrollably at the top of the baby park, but I learned to build up to it, fail safely and eventually stomped the landing. I hope one day you enjoy the experience as much as I do too.
Practice on a Trampoline
PC: Jonny James
Like most tricks on jumps, the same movements can be replicated on a trampoline. Keep in mind the final goal is to flip sideways, so when bouncing on the trampoline it really helps to bounce in the same direction you would be riding. If you have access to a foam board now is a good time to put it on.
- Begin by bouncing at a comfortable height and maintaining alignment with your hips and shoulders. Imagine the lip of your favorite jump at the end of the trampoline and keep your eyes focused on it.
- Stay focused on the imagined jump and increase your bounce height to simulated popping off the lip of the jump. Allow your leading leg and hip to lift and the trailing shoulder to drop down. Picture a reverse cartwheel.
- Control your rotation speed. Bringing the board in towards your core will speed up the rotation and help with landing pleasantly on your feet (Imagine going for an indy grab).
- As your feet pass over your head, you should now be able to easily spot your landing.
- Release your grab and bring your feet smoothly underneath you.
If this all sounds a little daunting, try a few of these rotations into a foam pit or onto a soft mat set up on the trampoline. This will absorb any funky landings and divulge a few hesitations.
Bring It to the Snow
PC: Keith Stubbs
When you're feeling super comfortable with these it’s time to take it to the snow. Pick a jump that you’re completely comfortable soaring over. A small backcountry kicker will also work a treat. A good crew is also key. Bring some homies who will give you an echoing “Yeww!!” when you’re ready to stomp a new trick. I also had Beyoncé singing powerfully into my ear subsiding the nerves, but you know whatever works.
- Maintain a flat base on the run-in and commit to zero or minimal speed checks. If that means you need to drop in slightly lower than usual to keep the necessary speed to still hit the sweet spot then do that.
- Pop as the tail of the board comes off the lip of the jump using the same range of movement as an ollie. This will set you up for the perfect wildcat rotation that you’ve practiced on the trampoline.
- Aim for an indy grab or think about your back arm swiping the length of your toe side edge. Pulling your body tighter into a tuck will increase the speed of your rotation while opening up will slow it down.
- Spot the landing on this one and adjust accordingly, by either tucking tighter or opening out slowly. Plant the base of the board in the exact spot you scoped from the air.
- Keep your eyes on the prize and ride out the landing with a new found sense of success and collect some high fives from the crew.
Commitment to the rotation is key when trying your first wild cat so aim for a tighter tuck. A speedier rotation may cause you to land heavier on the tail of your board, but is the more desirable option when compared with landing over the nose of your board. After the first few adjust your pop and rotation accordingly… et voila!
Cayley Alger is a New Zealand based snowboarder, trampoline coach and Coalition Snow Ambassador. Follow Cayley on Instagram or on Tumblr.