Olympic trick guide - be an instant pro commentator

snow action team 08.02.2014

Want to impress your mates/family/the venue crowd with your in-depth knowledge of the tricks going down during the Olympic coverage? Snow Action’s resident freeski guru Jodan Cook provides the lowdown to the showdown..

X Games Aspen 2014 - January 24, 2014

What’s Russ doing here? Read on & you’ll know.
Photo Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

With the Olympics literally knocking down the door I thought this would be a good time to give a quick breakdown of tricks for those who aren’t overly familiar.

It is pretty difficult to encapsulate all of the trickery terminology into one quick little read, but hopefully this gives you enough of a crash course that you can sound like a total pro when watching the Sochi madness with your mates.

Take a deep breath, things are about to get twisty – or as you’ll understand in a moment – all pretzeled out.

Dead basics:

When someone hits a feature backwards – its called switch.

People generally have a preferred direction of rotation. Most seem to like left more but each rider is a unique little flower in their own spinning preference. Notice that all of the riders make both look too easy.

There are basically hundreds (maybe not quite) of different axises to spin on, so generally if you see someone spinning while also flipping or going off axis – your fairly safe to go ahead and call it a cork. Face it – you’ll probably be wrong anyway, but you can just blame your excited state.


When you see someone spilling onto a rail they either put their tips (or tails if switch) over first. If it’s tips then its just whatever rotation onto the rail, however if the rider’s tails go over first that bad boy is called a lip-slide. So you’re probably going to see a fair few lip-450s.

When someone spins one way onto a rail, but spins the other way off its called a pretzel. That one is easy to remember because… yum.

When someone taps or ‘bonks’ the rail or feature with their skis its fairly ok to just call it a nose or tail tap. So I would feel ok about someone calling something a lip 450 tail-tap to pretzel 270 out. You should understand all that now 🙂

When a skier hits a rail without jumping on sideways, so kinda skiing down it, its called a ski-slide, a 50-50 or if your feeling particularly thug a ‘fiddy’ (try and use gang signs when saying this) #FacePalm


There are so many grabs out there, so I’m just going to run through a few you are most likely to see.

Mute – skis crossed and ski grabbed anywhere forward of the toe-piece. Further up looks cooler.

Blunt – same thing except the tail is grabbed.

Japan – one leg is bent up while the opposite arm reaches behind the not-bent leg to latch onto the general under foot area of the bend leg’s ski. A double Japan is the same thing except the other arm also grabs the same ski but ahead of the boot… So its a double

TruckDriver – Look out for Jossi Wells with this one. It is basically when you extend both legs and grab anywhere forward of your boots. There are loads of variations and Jossi’s are more bent up and usually verge on a bow and arrow action.

Genie grab – I mention this not because it is hugely popular, but because chances are you will see Nick Goepper do it. It is basically when you cross your legs so your right ski is on your left side and vise-versa while you grab one of the skis – usually the one at the back of the leg tangle.

Safety – A safety is just a right (or left) hand to a high (or left) ski. It sounds a tad basic after the Genie – but when its all tweaked (pulled and contorted) hard, it looks pretty cool and can definitely be a nice lead into a two grab combo.

Rotations n’ stuff:

When you see someone go upside-down or off axis twice, just go ahead and call it a dub (double). For instance, it would be fine to say ‘that was a huge switch dub 12 japan’.

Because everyone is cramming as many variants into a single feature as possible, I usually just say the first digit of a rotation – for instance; ‘lip 4 on switch-up pretzel 6 out’ means it was a 450 onto a rail, a 180 switch-up on the rail, then a 630 off in the opposite direction to the spin on.

Butters  – These are when the skier slides a degree of rotation on the lip of the feature before actually ‘taking off’. Henrik Harlaut is the lord of these and will likely show you all about them on all kinds of features, so when you see a dude with big dreads dropping in – take close notice of all those butters.

Ok so as I said, these are the just the basics to try and help you understand what is happening as you see that dude go ‘dubing’ past.

WARNING: People tend to get a little weird about skiing and names of things, and as you can imagine there are a whole bunch of names for things that are essentially the same. You may find yourself in the position where someone wants to argue over the name of whatever the heck Jossi just did on the babushka-doll feature. In this case, get them a beer, a pat on the back and return to enjoying the madness!