Bergmark Side Panel Re-Entry Tips
An airborne progression of the basic re-entry can add a challenge and some fun to your backcountry ride.
Even though I have performed this move more times than I can count, I have never given much thought about what it is called. Maybe a side panel re-entry is the best name for it.
Just like some riders love doing deep powder turns, the side panel re-entry is just a more extreme way to really get that “white room” feeling, combined with some sweet airtime. It’s not an incredibly difficult or dangerous maneuver, but it does have many layers to it and is a progression of a normal re-entry.
This move is purely for the fun factor. If performed the right way, with flow, the side panel re-entry gives you a great sense of control.
Before trying to learn side panel re-entries, riders should already feel comfortable executing a basic re-entry, where the rider does a wheelie up a steep hill and turns it around back downhill. This move is an advanced version of that, with the extra challenge of a jump added in.
Side Panel Re-Entry Tips
Choose the Right Location
To execute this move with good flow, you need a hill that is steep. Without a steep enough slope to land on, you will for sure get stuck after landing on your side.
Deep snow is strongly recommended since you will not be using any of the suspension of the sled to absorb the landing. More about that later.
You’ll also need to find something to jump off. This can be a pillow, wind lip, a snow-covered log—anything that is big enough to make your snowmobile pop and become airborne.
Just like with a basic re-entry, it is really important to never go straight up when approaching the pillow. Pick a line that is going slightly left or right of vertical. This will help prevent the risk of the sled falling backwards on top of you. This is very important!
When you approach the pillow, do it with good speed and attack it. You will lose a lot more momentum going up a steep slope than you would hitting a jump with a flatter in-run.
Impact and Takeoff
When the sled hits the pillow, the impact will cause your weight to go from leaning forward to a more neutral position.
At this point you must also shift your weight to the side of the direction the sled will rotate in the air. This sideways movement is important and is the one thing separating the successful side landing re-entry from a half backflip.
When your sled leaves the snow, you should already be looking where you plan to land.
In the Air
Once in the air, try to stay neutral on your sled and grip the tunnel with your feet. Personally, I always ride with grip plates on the tunnel to avoid losing my grip and body position.
Depending on how big you go, you may need to adjust the attitude of the sled with throttle or brake.
On smaller jumps you’ll need to hit the throttle hard to speed up the track and give the sled a faster rotation. If you’re doing a big air, you may need to do the opposite—no gas, and sometimes even using the brake to slow the rotation if it’s a really big one. Sometimes you just need to chill up there for half a second to avoiding over-rotating.
Prepare to Land
Coming back down, you should be on the throttle hard (if you weren’t already for the entire jump). Your hips and upper body should be fully off the sled to the side. You don’t want your hips to be above the running board. Be fully on your side and prepare to fall down into the snow, focusing on holding the handlebars tight with a firm grip. This position will allow for a smooth landing in deep snow.
When you really have this move controlled, you can try a tap on the brake at this point while keeping your RPM up. This can help your clutches shift down a bit before going from 100 to zero. In dry powder this normally doesn’t matter, but in heavy snow with good traction it can help put your sled in the right gear before impact.
This is where the white room smacks you in the face! Who doesn’t love to fill their helmet with snow?
At this point you might not be able to see very well. But keep giving it a lot of throttle. Your focus should be on getting the sled from the side panel back onto the track. Extending your arms to the maximum will help get the sled back on track, whereas extending your legs will make it continue sliding down the hill.
If you have it right—a good pillow, a steep enough slope and hard throttle, this is the moment you should achieve a successful side panel re-entry. Shake your helmet to get the snow out! You may need to go to one running board and push off the snow with your other leg to get enough momentum to get unstuck.
Side Panel Re-Entry
These are all the things I think about through a move like this. But every rider has their own way of doing things, and there is only one way to figure that out: practice and analyze your progress. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Never do anything where you don’t feel in control.
Baby steps are the way to go. I started riding at age six, and I am 30 years old now. That’s 24 years of practice!
Stay safe in the backcountry and have the time of your life!