A Jerry's Guide to Jibs
The wild and exciting world of the Terrain Park would be markedly less wild and exciting without the existence of features—an umbrella term for the strange shapes and objects scattered throughout it. The untrained eye sees only snow pyramids and confused urban infrastructure, but there is method to this madness. Ideally, as you read this, you will uncover the logic of these implements, as well as how to confront one without compromising your skeletal integrity.
To begin, of course, we must begin where we all (or, most of us) began:
The Humble Box
The best way to think about the box is as such:
You have just moved to a new town—it is your freshman year of high school. You have been graced with an unfortunate first-period math class, and you have no friends to complain to about this. On the first day of school, during this first period math class, your deadbeat math teacher asks you to take notes on his lovely Powerpoint slideshow. You reach for the pencil that you now realize you didn’t bring. A short, slightly chubby kid to your left notices your panic and hands you his spare, slightly chewed on pencil. After class you thank this kid—his name is Charlie, and he asks you if you want to hang out after school. You say yes because there’s nothing better for you to do. You go to his house, play PS3, eat raw pop tarts, and have a good time. You have made your first friend. Whether or not Charlie will continue to be your friend for all of highschool remains to be seen; you may make better, closer friendships as highschool life goes on. But for now, Charlie is all that you’ve got, and you’re going to stick to him like glue.
Or, ideally, slide over him like butter, because Charlie is the humble box. When you begin park skiing, you will not hit handrails. You will not hit flatbars. You will not even hit fat tubes. You will 50/50 Charlie on your sharp, directional rental skis every day for a week because Charlie is all that you know. Then you will muster the courage to boardslide Charlie, who may give you the slip a few times. You’ll ice those bruises and keep practicing until you can slide on many different breeds of Charlie—only then will you be ready to move on to the next level, the wonderful world of metal.
That doesn’t mean you have to forget about Charlie. If you’re Andy Parry, you and Charlie kicked it off right from the get-go and are still rocking it to this day. But your relationship will have its ups and downs as you conquer new features and truly decide what kind of park skier you really are.
The Rail Family
Perhaps the largest barrier to entry into park skiing is understanding the notion that sliding metal across metal can be done rather effortlessly. The average family-vacation skier will watch Wallisch do a switch lip double front swap 630 out on a double kink and, like orangutans watching Swan Lake at the Paris Opera Ballet, will only be able to reflect on how the “funny human spin good”.
There is a close parallel in understanding rail skiing and being able to rail ski. I cannot pretend to know how to ski rails like Wallisch or Voll. But I do know what most rails look like, as each lap I pretend to skip them as if I’m just having a mellow day. Of course, if you’re reading this, all you know is Charlie anyway. Here are some prominent members of the Rail family:
Tubes are like White Claws. Even if you don’t really like them, when you’re in the thick of it, hitting a tube is never not fun. On their own they really don’t taste great, but after five in a row, you feel like you can grease ten more.
Tubes, especially fat tubes, are not as intimidating as normal handrails, and they’re far more forgiving. They also allow for surface swaps, a way to learn normal swaps that is far less hazardous to your reproductive organs. Metal or PVC, park crews cannot go wrong inserting fat tubes into their setups, and skiers cannot go wrong hitting them.
Generally, people who vocally hate on tubes are not to be trusted. These are the kind of people who will lure you into the afternoon-post-several-beers train on some sketchy, rusted-to-shit polejam and pretend not to notice the consequent diplomatic meeting that occurs between your sphincter and the rail. You were better off surface swapping the flat tube—never let anyone take your tubes away from you.
We don’t talk about flatbars.
I have never, ever, in my entire life, seen a shotgun rail whose paint wasn’t peeling off. Not in videos, not in real life, not even in my imagination can I conceive of a shotgun rail that isn’t undergoing perpetual corrosion. I can say with absolute certainty that nobody hits shotgun rails—and anyone who does cannot possibly enjoy it.
There are no virtues to shotgun rails, but one of them is that they are only marginally better than flatbars because they allow some degree of scissoring due to their roundness. In practical terms, however, a shotgun rail is a flatbar with curved sides, because the middle concavity is essentially irrelevant in all except for offering chipped paint for your edges to catch on.
The short of it is this: shotguns are for the skier who wants a rail trick for a video, but has not achieved ample mastery of said trick to do it on a normal roundrail, but they don’t want to do it on a box (because it would look easy), and they obviously don’t want to do it on a flatbar, which leaves its older cousin, the shotgun—so they record this trick on their VX2000, whose quality is so “good” that one cannot discern whether the rail is a roundrail or a shotgun, et voilà. Where’s the realski invite?
The apotheosis, the peak of the summit, roundrails are to rails what the XL booter is to jumps. When you can comfortably hit roundrails and most of their kinked, curved, and challenge variations, you are in la crème de la crème of park rats. Doing high-tech tricks is another story, but simply being able to say a “mellow day” consists of front/blind 2s on every rail in the park is where most skiers aspire to be. Those that can do this, do not take your skills for granted. Think of the kid you once were, frustrated with their inconsistency on the charlies and fat tubes, and remember that there’s hundreds of them still out there, taking hip bruise after hip bruise to try to be a bit more like you.
Note that the roundrail is unattainable to the average skier. Your typical vacationer will enter the park and 50/50 boxes. They will hit the jumps too slow and case the landings (or, in some cases, decide to attain their childhood dream of being an astronaut via the XL kicker). Some will even brave the fatter tubes, with varying results. But nobody – not one, weekend-warring soul – would consider attempting to hit the rainbow roundrail. Or the flat down roundrail. Or the cannon roundrail next to the medium jump. It’s absolutely unheard of.
But if you’re at the point where you can hit roundrails, you’ve crossed that chasm. You have deciphered the the notion that sliding metal across metal can indeed be done effortlessly. So congratulations, because I’d estimate there’s well under 50,000 people in the world who can do this reliably. That’s roughly less than 0.00001% of the world’s population. So that’s something going for you, at least.
Of course, there are plenty of creative, interesting jib features that exist beyond the categories I have established. It is the creativity of this sport, channeled through our park crews, our urban shenanigans, and our summer setups, that constantly provides the new and refreshing challenges that keep us coming back.
Well, usually coming back; if my local decides to make our park a flatbar garden next season, you can find me wearing spandex on 190cm race skis.
Written as a loose continuation of the A Jerry’s Guide to the Terrain Park. This is an entertainment article. All opinions stated are subject to change (or not) on the whim of the author. Please do not refer to this article as reference for the opinions of the author. Note that the author does not care if you enjoy hitting shotgun rails. The author insists that those who enjoy hitting shotgun rails should write their own article justifying this enjoyment. The author will not read, entertain, or otherwise acknowledge articles, comments, or messages concerning flatbars. Please see and respect the author’s sentiments concerning flatbars above in the section “Flatbars”. None of the rights in this article are reserved.