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How to Build a Snowboard Jump (Kicker)

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How to Build a Snowboard Jump (Kicker)
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My brother and I building a kicker.

Photo © Matt Gibson

Days in the park hitting jumps, rails and the halfpipe are always fun, but there’s one part of snowboarding that surpasses park riding, powder days, and even lunch time.

Building a private kicker in the backcountry gives you the opportunity to practice new tricks without having to worry about waiting in line or hard, over-packed landings.

Although you may be in a hurry to build your kicker and start launching airs, building a proper jump takes a little bit of planning and a lot of hard work, so bring a couple of friends to the backcountry with you. After all, you’ll need someone to take pictures when the jump is complete.

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Time Required: 1 hour to 1.5 hours

What You’ll Need: Shovel

How to Build a Kicker:

  1. Choose a good location for your kicker. Build your jump on a hill with a somewhat steep (35-40 degree) downhill slope for the landing. A sloped landing is essential for easing the impact of the landing and preventing injury.

    An ideal location for a jump is a small flat area just before the landing slope. However, this isn’t always easy to find.

    Make sure there’s enough room (30-50 feet) for you to gain some speed before hitting the ramp.

    You want a hefty amount of powder for your landing too, so check it thoroughly for ice, rocks, and obstacles.

     
  2. Now it’s time to bust out the shovel and start digging. Pile the snow onto the location you’ve chosen for your ramp.
     
  3. Pack the snow down by walking on it and patting it with the back of the shovel. When you think you’ve piled enough snow onto the ramp, you’ll actually probably only have half of what you need.
     
  4. Once you’ve piled enough snow for your jump, you’ll need to smooth the ramp for take-off. Use the back of the shovel and your board to compact the surface of the jump. The last thing you want is for the ramp to crumble on your first attempt, so pack it as tightly as you can and add snow as needed.  
     
  5. Build the inrun. The inrun is the runway that leads to your ramp. You want it to be as smooth as possible, so you can maintain your speed and balance all the way through the take-off. Hike about 30-50 feet uphill from the jump and sideslip toward it until the runway is smooth.
     
  6. Start launching airs. If you notice anything you don’t like about the ramp, adjust it as you go. If you hit it all day and the landing gets too packed, use your shovel to pile up some snow to make it more forgiving.
 

Tips:

  1. There’s no standard size for jumps, but a jump at least 6-feet wide will provide plenty of stability for a full day of flips, spins, and grabs.
     
  2. Don’t build a lip at the top of the jump. Although they used to be common on park jumps, a lip will only throw you off balance at the most critical point of the take-off.
     
  3. It’s your jump, so customize it exactly for your needs. If you want to launch far, make a long jump with a gradual slope. A steep kicker will shoot you higher upward, so tailor the jump to the tricks you want to do.
 

 

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