In a world as heavily entrenched in aesthetics as skiing is, people are always finding something new and superficial to complain about. Here’s one more: FIS mogul course sized booters masquerading as urban rail takeoffs. Sure, there was a time— say back in the early days of this soon-to-be-finished decade when parks were either non-existent or skiers were pummeled with snowballs for entering the then snowboard only domain—when urban rails and backyard jibs may have been the only place for aspiring skiers to get a taste for steel under their boots. Not so anymore with the proliferation of the terrain park, and twin-tips now the rule as opposed to the exception. So why are we still seeing these huge lips, un-shoveled stairs and generally sketchy setups from A- and B-level skiers in web edits and even movie segments? We tracked down urban slayer Frank Raymond to shed some light on the “proper” technique for an urban session, and maybe knock some sense into those still doing it the old-fashioned way. Unless we missed something and Twister-Twister-Spreads are the new hot shit in the streets…
Why the big jumps? I think people are building big jumps onto rails for two reasons: the fi rst one is ‘cause it’s scary. You’ve got a high rail, stairs, concrete and all sorts of stuff in the way that can hurt you, so people build jumps to bring down the gnar factor that you are supposed to be looking for in street stuff . Second, is because it’s way easier to do tricks when you only have to ollie a few inches to hop on the rail—which I can understand, but I call it cheating. It’s like using the elastic band with chopsticks at a sushi joint, it works but it’s gay.
What inspired you to be such an advocate for the low takeoffs? I used to skateboard a lot in the streets of Montreal when I was a kid, and I never built jumps to hit a rail, why should I do it as a skier? For sure it’s a litt le harder when it comes to 270-ing on and stuff , but I’ve seen skateboarders do Switch Kickfl ip to Front Board on a 20 stair… even back in the day with them fish boards… feel me?
Tell us about your preferred urban setup. You want a perfect setup, no matt er how much time it takes. I’d rather spend two hours building a setup than spend two hours sessioning a sketchy setup. Take your time, make everything perfect: perfect in-run with plenty of speed, perfect landing with no bumps. For the jump, it’s prett y easy. If it’s a steep rail, you need a fl at takeoff . You don’t want to air onto the rail but just get on top of it. For a fl att er rail, you might want to put a litt le bit of Wu-Tang [kick] on it so it puts your nose in an upward position, ready to go over the rail. You just want to get on as smooth as possible so you land on the rail in control and are ready for what’s coming up. I never go over the height of a stair for a jump, so it looks like an extra stair, and the shot still looks good.
What about cleaning stairs? If you don’t, it’s like hitt ing a park rail. Once again, you’re doing street stuff for the gnar factor. If you’re scared, grab your helmet and lap the park, you’re just not ready for street. And it also makes the shot 100 times bett er, especially the picture.
What common mistakes can lead to big jumps? You would think that if you don’t have enough speed, building a bigger jump would help. Well no, it’s worse. You’re actually losing more speed by building a big jump, because you’re traveling up and losing that litt le bit of momentum.
Are there any downsides to low takeoffs? There is only one downside to small takeoff s: friends won’t hit rails with you because they’re gonna look bad ’cause they can’t do shit without a jump. No, for real, there’s no downside to small jumps other than you can’t go back to big jumps.