The backside air is quite possibly the best trick in snowboarding’s increasingly complex lexicon. Ironically, it’s also one of the easiest to do; however there’s doing it, and there’s doing it well – anyone who’s gotten to grips with turning and popping an ollie will have no problem jumping, slapping the hand on the heel edge, and pulling their legs up, but to do it at speed, with height and get that timeless contortion of body positioning just right… it’s a thing of beauty.
Because we love a good tweaked, backside-grabbed aerial perhaps more than is strictly healthy, we also included a couple of excellent examples of straight jump Methods. Though technically you could argue that they’re not backside airs as there’s no backside wall or rotation, they’re sick, memorable moments of snowboarding wrapped up in a similar, aesthetically arousing body movement. Plus we’re always hearing how people would ‘rather see a big Method’ than the progressive pentacorking, so forgive us for taking a liberty and going all in.
Some of these were included due to being defining as moments themselves; others for the people who have done them and the impact they’ve had on snowboarding. Whichever way you cut it, backside airs are all time and here are some of the greatest to grace snowboarding’s history…
The birth of freestyle snowboarding occurred in a ditch in Tahoe when Terry Kidwell and a few of the local boys (including a mini-shred Shaun Palmer) dug out a transition in a snow-covered rubbish dump and started doing skate tricks there in the mid-80s. The hit was backside for the goofy-footed Kidwell and before long he’d perfected what – even today – is a well-defined Method air.
Everything that follows is traceable back to here. Inspired by Kidwell and his amigos, freestyle snowboarding – and the backside air – caught the minds of kids from Cali and beyond and it wasn’t long before the trick was honed, individualised and even immortalised by the riders or in the instances you’ll see below.
If you like a bit of snowboard nerd history, the We Ride documentary from a few years back charts the story pretty well.