By Rhys Jones
The Method Air is the classic snowboard trick; a firm favourite for snowboarders since its origins. Although to some people the Method may not be a difficult trick, to do one with style and panache is arguably one of the greatest challenges in snowboarding.
Invented by Neil Blender, a skateboarder from the early 80’s, the Method Air was developed as a way for him to get higher backside airs. And that’s where the name comes from it was a ‘method’ to get more air. Neil also invented the Lien Air, this is a Method on the front side wall of a half pipe, and he used this technique as a way of getting higher on front side airs – he described the way to do them as to just LEAN into them (Lien is also Neil spelled backwards). As a result what started out as a tool has now become an iconic trick of the snowboarding world.
The Method is a technical trick that requires a blend of movements and skills. The trick in its basic form can be done by a relatively low end rider but as a greater range of movement, amplitude and style is added into the mix the harder it becomes. Factors that can affect the trick are where people grab and the amount the board can be tweaked. This can come down to the biomechanics, flexibility, physical make up and timing from the rider. For example a taller rider may find it easier to make a larger visual impact as the extension of the rear leg and flexion of the front leg will move the board differently as they have longer levers to use.
So what is the sequence to doing the Method?
The sequence to doing the trick can be broken down into a few phases: Having a good approach, popping off the lip, having enough air time to grab and tweak the trick and then the landing. This meticulous sequencing of movements will be the difference between failure and success.
Approach the feature in a flexed position ready to leave the take-off zone.
Pop off the feature relevant to your speed and the size of the transition in order to give you sufficient air time to perform the trick.
Bring the heel edge towards your backside, grab the board on the heel side edge between the binding with your front hand, flex the front leg toward the body and extend the rear leg away from the body whilst bringing the board across to point West (East for Regular riders) . At this point you should aim your shoulders and head down the hill and show everyone the base of your board whilst holding the grab.
Release the grab and let the board move underneath the body and feet to stomp the landing.
Although this is the way I personally like to do methods there are definitely variations which change the way the trick looks and feels. Some snowboarders prefer to grab them at different points along the heel edge, between the front binding and nose is also common. Arching the body and extending the back leg can add serious style points.
These days huge spins with two or three flips and corks are being thrown off large jumps in the park, pipe and backcountry but in my opinion a method done well stands up there with them. A method stands for much more than any other trick; it can define riders and separate the good from the great. Riders such as Craig Kelly, Terje Haakonsen, Nicolas Muller and Mark Landvik are all Method masters and all have their own unique variation, each one putting their personal twist and flavour on it to represent their own style.
For me a Method is a trick all snowboarders should learn and its one that I’ll definitely be searching to perfect throughout the rest of my snowboarding days. Have fun exploring the possibilities and good luck trying them out!