Straight Airs Are Dead | Mountain Sledder
Brandon Wiesener | On 15, Mar 2016
A straight air is the most basic, utilitarian way to hit a jump. It gets the job done, but most people should be over it by now. At the highest level, straight airs have been dead in other action sports like skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, mountain biking and moto for over a decade.
Photos: Stevin Tuchiwsky | Rider: Cody Borchers
Straight Airs Are Dead
So why do we still see so many straight airs in snowmobiling? It’s not that straight airs aren’t done in other sports, it’s that these other sports are so far ahead, anything not tricked or styled-out is dismissed as not good enough. In sledding this hasn’t fully happened yet, but it’s coming.
Massive straight airs will always be badass, and a hit with a sniper sweet spot on the landing can be extremely technical. Anyone in the sport knows that a straight air can be more than meets the eye, but it’s style that separates one rider from another. Just hitting a jump and clearing it is step 1 but we should want more than that. These days how you hit the jump and what it looks like is important, and going off dead sailor isn’t enough. We should be hungry to get to Step 2 and beyond, which adds flavor and spice to being in the air. Sledding needs something fresh.
Better Than the Status Quo
If 5 riders straight air the same jump it becomes mundane, but get 5 riders throwing tricks and lacing the jump with style and something deeper is happening. It becomes an unspoken competition based on being innovative and looking smooth. This is the heart of progression and the most pure way for the sport to push ahead. So why are there so few people doing it?
For starters, mountain sledding is usually in remote places where the risk is high. Going sledding also takes more work than just riding out of your garage; it’s a job just getting to the riding zone. Sledding may cost a lot but so does moto, which happens to be one of the most progressive sports in existence. The excuses are not reason enough for people to not be pushing beyond the realm of straight airs and dull repetition. Pushing it so it’s do or die is too far, but we can do better than the status quo.
One of the main reasons we love action sports is the unlimited freedom of progression and creativity. For the sport to be pushed further, a style renaissance is needed; it’ll take some grinding, an applied movement by the riders, especially the youth.
We need to see a combination of tricks merged with creative use of terrain. Sledding film segments need to show multiple hits, linked in a row together, like a natural slopestyle course where riders can throw in style and tricks on consecutive features. If something looks intimidating or nearly impossible think outside the box, it still might be possible. Weaving lines with a variety of jumps, hips and quarter pipe airs is definitely possible. Combinations are the future.
Look Beyond the Single Straight Jump
So the next time you’re considering getting air, look beyond the single straight jump and look at the terrain a new way. If you have to go smaller so that you can try something different then do it. Sledding needs more than just big, it needs a fresh take on what the new age of riding can look like.