It may sound blasphemous coming from a lifelong skier, but I love pro snowboarding, and with the 35th Burton U.S. Open going down this Friday and Saturday and airing on Red Bull TV, I’m psyched. It’s the longest-running snowboard event and one of the most important for top-tier riders—and this year’s winners will emerge as frontrunners for next year’s winter Olympics. Spearheading the charge is two-time Open champ Mark McMorris, a Red Bull rider I had the pleasure of speaking with earlier this week.
Whether it’s landing never-before-seen tricks like a backside triple cork 1440, earning 12 X-Games medals or scoring slopestyle bronze at the Sochi Olympics, McMorris has long been at the forefront of his sport. However, a freak accident last season left him sidelined with a broken femur and five months of recovery. Now, he says, “having always done well at the U.S. Open and having missed it last year, I’m excited to be back.” Poised for a return to the podium, the laidback Canadian shared some tips on landing one badass trick, the backside rodeo. For those unfamiliar, that’s going off a jump and flipping backwards, typically spinning a 540 as the crowd goes wild.
“Hit the jumps a bunch so you know your speed and how to land,” he suggests. “You should also know all the tricks leading up to a rodeo.” This will give you some confidence going into the trick. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, it’s time to pull your first backside rodeo. “Don’t half commit, that’s never good,” says McMorris “It’ll probably get you a ride down with the ski patrol, and nobody wants that.” Here’s McMorris demonstrating a full commit a few years back.
Approach: Ride into a good-sized jump with your weight centered and the board flat. As you approach the lip, roll over and put a little pressure on the toe side.
Liftoff: Focus your weight on your back foot. Being on your toes could produce some bad results. When you are at the top of the lip pop off your tail and begin to throw your head over your back shoulder.
The Move: While in the air, continue to pull your front shoulder back and bring your knees toward your chest, grabbing the board with what was your back hand to replicate the stalefish grab McMorris executed above. Then, when you come around, spot the landing between your bindings and keep your eyes on it the whole time.
The Landing: With the landing in sight, wait for your board to come around, then push your legs out a bit to meet the ground halfway. Absorb the impact while landing on your toes in order to stop the rotation.
Bonus Tip: “Take your time with this trick and always have fun snowboarding with friends. Get other people into it because it’s the funnest sport ever.”
Pick up a little inspiration from the below trailer for the 23-year-old’s own Red Bull-sponsored flick, In Motion, which connects the grind of the snowboarding circuit with some sick backcountry riding. And watch him and the rest of world’s top male and female riders compete in the Open this Friday and Saturday on Red Bull TV, live from 1 to 9 p.m. Eastern both days. Shred on!