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A History of Kicker Tricks That Changed Snowboarding

In the Autumn of 2010, we released the 116th issue of Onboard into the world of snowboarding. As (obviously) with all Onboard issues, it was a criminal offence that we didn’t get a literature prize for it, but we also ran an article called ‘Raising the Bar’ penned by resident lyrical waxer Tom Copsey.  In one of the opening paragraphs Tom wrote “If there’s one kind of trick that’s emblemtic of the state of progressive snowboarding today, it’s the double cork.”

Almost 5 years later, and a lot has changed. The very nature of progression has….progressed, and now it’s the triple cork that serves as the figurehead trick of snowboarding.

Yuki Kadono joins the hallowed hall of riders that are responsible for wielding the pointy end of the progression stick. Whilst there’s an endless list of tricks that have one-upped the previous incarnation, there are few tricks that have the critical mass to stand the test of time, and really switch up the game.

We’ve rattled through our constantly deteriorating memories to come up with tricks that we think changed the trajectory of snowboarding, that we rewound until the VHS tape broke, and that influence snowboarding to this day. If there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that in 5 years time, we’ll look back on this list and laugh at how irrelevant it will be.

DAMIAN SANDERS – IGUANA BACKFLIPS (1989)

Tight neon, bleached blonde hair, leather jackets and hardboots? Yep, it could only be one man; Damian Sanders.

There are many riders that influenced the beginnings of the freestyle movement in snowboarding; more so than you’re probably interested to hear about in all honesty. However, Damian is one rider that you should definitely know about.

Whilst there were riders whirlybirding and cross rocketing their way down the mountain, Damian was the pioneer of the invert movement, and is generally credited with working grabs and control into them. Despite some sketchy attempts, his Iguana backflips (backflip with a contorted Tindy grab) were the infant stages of the trend of getting your ass upside down that’s still evolving today. In all honesty, we see a little of Damian in Sven Thorgren’s invert madness.

All Sven needs now is a missus that’s a Playboy bunny. Actually, he’s probably got one of those anyway…

SHAWN FARMER – MT. BAKER ROAD GAP – TOTALLY BOARD (1989)

Whilst Terry Kidwell and co. had pioneered the freestyle movement of snowboarding, and their contribution is felt whenever you strap in and point it at a kicker, hip, pipe or quarter; Shawn Farmer’s infamous two tricker at Mt Baker, Washington was one of the first blows landed squarely on the chops of upping the airtime of progressive snowboarding.

Weaving through the take off required the skill of a pilot coming into land at Hong Kong’s old airport, and to this day, the Mt. Baker Road Gap puts the heebyjeebies into hardened snowboarders.

JAMIE LYNN – CAB 900 – TB2 (1992)

In a time where men were men, women were women and nobody posted meaningless shit on Facebook 24/7, it was incredibly difficult to work out who landed a trick first.The origin of the Cab 900 is one of those tricks thats history is more muddled than a Monday morning on Vienna’s metro system.

The trick is attributed to Bryan Iguchi, whose Cab 900 Japan in ‘The Hard, the Hungry and the Homeless’ is widely recognised as being the first one put to film.

Jamie Lynn’s efforts in TB2 were nothing to be sneered at, though, and the more vintage members of the Onboard crew well remember burning the tape out trying to understand how Lynn was able to spin so much.

JAMIE LYNN – CAB 540 CLIFF DROP – TB3 (1993)

Back in Jamie Lynn’s heyday, his fiercely progressive, stylish parts were amongst the first you wanted to watch each autumn. Though his part in Standard Films’ TB3 was short, it was most certainly sweet and it was also when he started pioneering taking technical tricks – which had been up to that point strictly park-based – in to the backcountry with his Cab 540 cliff drop.

It’s hard to try and comprehend the concept of Jamie Lynn sharing a video part, but his 6 trick blitz shared with Aaron Vincent, Shannon Dunn, Tina Basich and Barrett Christy epitomised his riding style.

PETER LINE – BACKSIDE RODEO – SIMPLE PLEASURES (1997)

Whilst informed debate will rage for many years as to who did the first frontside rodeo variation, the first person as far as we know to get the backside rodeo on lock was Forum creator Peter Line.

In Mack Dawg Production’s legendary movie ‘Simple Pleasures’, Peter did the unthinkable and launched off his heel edge, blurring the lines of vertical and horizontal axis into the backside rodeo.

Peter was one of the first riders to really learn how to use his backside edge and up until Peter, it was common for riders to spin frontside off the toes. Mr Line championed edge control into a new era and the mainstream.

KEVIN JONES – FIRST FRONTSIDE 1080 IN THE BACKCOUNTRY – TB7 (1997)

The lines of progression in the park and out in the backcountry take time to catch up as riders find the perfect spots to take their kicker-weilding prowess to the steep and deep.

Think Travis Rice’s backside double 1080s in ‘That’s It, That’s All’, Kimmy Fasani’s doubles in Standard’s ‘2112‘ or Torstein’s triples in ‘Horgasm‘. In the same vein, it was Kevin Jones that stepped up to the plate to take the Frontside 1080 and translate it into the backcountry for Standard Films’ ‘TB7.

Kevin’s forays into the backcountry saw an onslaught of tricks translated onto cliffs, booters and spines that had previously only been attempted within the boundaries of the piste markers.

JIM RIPPEY – RIPPEY FLIP – AIR AND STYLE INNSBRUCK (1997)

Jim Rippey might be more well known in snowmobile or religious circles these days, but he crushed it through the 90s, both filming and on tour. The Air & Style was in its infancy when Rippey stood atop the Bergisel stadium in Innsbruck for his final run, although he was already infamous for his hell-for-leather movie parts.

1997 was the year for axis-blending tricks, and as Rippey surged round a frontside 720 mixed with a backflip, the axis were interwoven as ever. Of course, John Cardiel got there first with this trick, but Rippey unleashed it on the masses.

MARC ANDRE TARTE – CAB 1080 – SPC CAMP HINTERTUX (2001)

In the early 2000’s there were only a handful of European film companies documenting what was going down on the continent, one of whom was Marco Lutz’s, a Swiss ex-pro turned filmer, whose JDP films always combined high-end Euro boarding with, well, a bit of weirdness.

His 2001 film ‘Desired Effect’ had its fair share of the infamous SPC camp sessions at Hintertux, but it was really one Canadian export’s efforts that blazed through the 16mm film and onto our retinas.

Bearing in mind back in those days, big booters bore more resemblance to moguls than the finely angled pieces of art we see today, both the jump itself and the fact that Marc Andre Tarte flung himself into a Cab 1080 over the SPC Megaroller at 60 miles per hour, were both mindblowing.

In the video above you can see the trick sans landing, but if you’re looking for a shot that shows the sheer insanity of how super sized it was, look no farther than here. Marc’s advice on how to put one down: “absorb the bumpy in-run; absorb the bumps…”

JP WALKER – FRONTSIDE DOUBLE 900 – SHAKEDOWN (2002)

Whilst multiple tips of that hat must be given to a roster of riders that had been doing double inverts of different varieties up to this point, JP Walker’s was the first to be truly corked as we know it.

The tale is almost as legendary as the trick itself. Having broke himself off hard early in the season, he decided to take from his experience of accidentally adding another flip whilst trying to learn corked 900s a few years’ previous. Thus, when the time came to getting tricks down on film for his part, he pulled out the quiver killer he’d been brewing and committed it clean to film.

DAVID BENEDEK – FS/BS/CAB/SW BS 900S – AFTERBANG (2002)

(Skip to 21:00 to see David’s part)

You could argue that David Benedek is in the top 5 of the most influential snowboarders of all time, and his uncanny ability to take things to the next level was never more evident than in the 2002 production ‘Afterbang’.

He decided that his film part was going to be perfect symmetry. By that, we mean he decided to do every trick regular, and then back it up and throw it down switch as well.

David managed to put all four 900 variations down for his part, but infamously the editors managed to leave the frontside 900 out and had to ram it into the next season’s film, Lame.

TRAVIS RICE – FRONTSIDE DOUBLE 1080 – POP (2004)

The history of the Pyramid Gap is plastered on the walls of snowboarding lore, so when in 2004 for Absinthe Films’ ‘Pop’, Travis Rice surged down the in-run at 50mph and sailed over the vast bone-shattering gap below and into a frontside double 10, he added his name to the footnotes below. It was the second double cork committed to film, and dialled up Walker’s water-tester to 1080.

One of the main things we always think about the trick, is that it wasn’t an ending shot; this wasn’t a banger to fade to black. No, this was statement of intent. This was Travis’ way of saying the best is yet to come.

As statements go, it was a strong one.

DAVID BENEDEK – FRONTSIDE DOUBLE 1080 – 91 WORDS FOR SNOW (2005)

If JP Walker and Travis Rice’s front double corks were the first fissure in the freestyle movement, it was David Benedek’s front double 10 that was the crack in the tectonic plates that snowboarding was built on.

For ’91 Words for Snow’ released in 2005, David had been trying to build the ‘perfect jump’. Failed attempts at Whistler had lead to an in-run requiring 124kph to clear the knuckle; in no mean terms, that wasn’t perfect.

So after returning to the drawing board, David teamed up with the crew at Zugspitze, Germany; to build a kicker less in the realms of Autobahn speeds.

With Marko Grilc and Christoph Weber in tow, the jump was built and it was time to throw down. As David himself put it “[JP’s] was clearly the first legit double cork, but it didn’t catch on with me because it didn’t look like something you could repeat every time. Then I saw Travis’ double cork and it made so much sense that a 1080 would put you back on your feet. So Travis’ became the template for all the others.

JUSSI OKSANEN – SWITCH BACKSIDE 1080 – FOLLOW ME AROUND (2006)

The infamously omini-stanced Finn, Jussi Oksanen, stepped up to the plate for his part in Mack Dawg Production’s ‘Follow Me Around’ released in 2006. Already renowned for his buttery abilities on behemoth booters in both the backcountry and the park – his part shared with Heikki Sorsa continues to be one of the best Jussi parts of all times.

Jussi’s ender was a switch backside 1080 sailing over the rocky outcrop below. It’s fairly safe to say that Jussi didn’t so much as step up to the plate, as he did unleash a bull into a china shop.

EERO ETTALA – BACKSIDE RODEO 1080 – FOLLOW ME AROUND (2006)

Eero Ettala exploded onto the scene in 2002 at the Arctic Challenge alongside Finnish compatriot Heikki Sorsa. To this very day, Eero has continued to send it first class every season in competitions, video parts and any other type of snowboard related hijinks you can think of.

Eero’s list of video parts stretches out like the snowboard version of the Bayeux Tapestry, but his part in Mack Dawg Productions’ ‘Follow Me Around’ has to be one of the best. The infamous “100 laps a day… it’s gooooooood” vox pop, mixed with Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 1982 classic ‘Come on Eileen’ combined to make in this writers opinion, one of the best video parts of all time.

Not satisfied for launching into pre-emptive attacks on the streets, backcountry and park booters – he went forth and landed the first double backside rodeo 1080. As a short toothed shredder, it’s safe to say there were more rewinds of that trick than the 2004 Superbowl half-time show.

TORSTEIN HORGMO – FRONTSIDE TRIPLE CORK 1440 (2010)

The reign of the double came to an abrupt end in 2010 with the advent of notorious park crusher Torstein Horgmo. The 1.73m of Norwegian steel launched himself at the Folgefonna kicker in spring 2010 to send a frontside triple 1440 to the pits of hell.

This, we would argue, was the start of a new age of snowboarding. At this point, riders had stepped up to learn doubles and some hadn’t made the cut. Now there was a new trick to learn, and if you didn’t have it in your trickbag, you could get used to fighting it out in the qualifications (again).

YUKI KADONO – BACK TO BACK TRIPLE CORK 1620S – BURTON US OPEN (2015)

The first rumblings of Yuki Kadono’s prowess was at the Air and Style Beijing back in 2012 when he clinched the crown from atop Peetu Piiroinen’s head in the finals with a backside triple 1440.

Quite frankly, we had Yuki down as a big air threat. His one hit wonder skills were incredibly good, as demonstrated by his results list including a smattering of top 10 finishes at big air events globally.

So, when slightly inebriated in Laax whilst watching the Burton US Open finals, you can imagine the amount of screaming coming from apartment C303 as Yuki launched himself from backside triple 1620 into a switch backside triple 1620. The thing to remember with this is that a lot of the riders were saying that the landings were a little flat as well.

We’ll be keeping a slightly more watchful eye on Yuki from now on…

BILLY MORGAN – QUAD CORK 1800 (2015)

We’d had a feeling that a quad cork was lurking on the horizon for a little while, and if we’d had to put our money on who would be the first to have a crack, the UK’s Billy Morgan would have been damned near the top of the list.

As the first rider to land a triple backside rodeo, Billy has always been incredibly good at spinning and flipping really, really fast, and sure enough, in April 2015, on the big kicker that featured in the Nine Knights setup, Billy successfully one-upped the whole kicker riding scene.

With a slight hand drag, Billy got his first attempt to his feet and a new entry in the history books. The trick blew up on the web, with praise and hate flooding the comments in equal measure. We’ve yet to see the trick attempted in a snowboard contest and as of today, only two other riders (Max Parrot and Marcus Kleveland) have landed quads.

Who knows where it will all go from here…

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