New To Ski

How to Butter on Skis Like a Pro (Beginners Guide)

by Megan Coles | Published: December 12th, 2022
Butter

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Buttering has got to be one of the most stylish-looking tricks going, but what is it? It’s mostly performed on flats or rollers rather than big jumps, turning a nose press or tail press into a spin maneuver.

Buttering on skis is a smooth, stylish trick that once mastered should look effortless. Achieved by leaning into the boot and onto only your tips or tails, then rotating on this point, you should appear to glide across the snow. It’s one of the most technical tricks you can do and will require lots of practice. 

If you’re ready to elevate your skiing as an already technically great skier then buttering is the trick for you.

What is Butter on Skis?

Valberget Session
Photo by Alexander Lindquist under CC BY 2.0

A butter is named because of the spreading motion of a ski against the snow. Butter is where you press onto the tips or tails of your skis so that they’re the only point of contact, then pivoting on this point, all while traveling across the snow.

Key Takeaway: Butters can be performed on the tail or tips of your skis, and are named respectively as tail butter or nose butter. Exiting the butter facing the opposite way you started would be a butter 180 and completing a full spin is referred to as a butter 360. 

It’s one of the most technical tricks you can do and takes a long time to learn, but when done correctly, looks like a piece of cake. The trick requires finesse which can’t be learned overnight and won’t look smooth without a lot of practice. 

How To Butter On Skis

First of all, am I ready to butter? Well, this trick doesn’t require too many prerequisites to start attempting it, but they’re important ones. First of all, you’ve got to be an incredibly comfortable skier, not just technically excellent, but to achieve a butter your skis need to be a total extension of yourself.

Next, you must feel comfortable doing 180s, at least a standing 180 but being able to do one while traveling will be helpful. This will help with the feeling of the trick and with being comfortable landing out of a trick in switch (backward). 

For the purposes of these instructions, I’ll explain how to do a nose butter and note that a tail butter requires a similar technique but putting pressure into the back of your boot and transferring weight onto the back of your skis. 

STEP 1:

Learn to nose press. Think of the nose press as a wheelie-like maneuver, shifting body weight so that only the nose is in contact with the snow. 

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STEP 2:

Learn to Nollie. A Nollie or Nose Ollie is a jump where you leave the tips of your skis on the ground last and spring off of them, then landing tail first through to the tips.

This is done by shifting your body weight forward, and pressuring the front of the boots so your skis start to bend to create this spring motion. Using the rebound of the ski will create the desired pop.

Ski Jump

STEP 3:

Once you’ve got the nose press and nollie down, you can move on to buttering as it uses both of these skill sets. For a nose butter 180, also called a revert, start on a fairly flat ski run and skate into the trick to pick up some speed. Without a bit of speed behind it, the trick will be more difficult as you’ll have to create your own motion.

Begin your nose press and rather than all of the body weight going forward into the nose press, move your body in the desired direction of the spin. 

At this point, you’re wanting to push into the front of the boot and move your body forward to an extreme but must avoid hinging at the waist. Think of it as trying to show your body to the ground, keeping the chest open, and getting it close to the floor, without bending. 

Tip: Butter is a very physical trick and you must keep your entire body strong and tight. A good butter requires knees to remain slightly bent.

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Uphill Ski

As you spin, keep the tip of your skis on the ground, you want to see and feel your skis flexing. To help with the spinning motion, look at where you’re going and spot the landing as it appears in your field of vision.

For a nose butter 180, you’ll finish your spin after traveling 180 degrees and ride out of it in switch, backward. 

STEP 4:

For a Nose Butter 360, the technique is the exact same but you’re aiming to come out of the butter facing forward having spun 360 degrees. This can be achieved by either rotating entirely on the tips or using the Nollie to spring out and spin 180 in the air after rotating on the tips for 180.

Or it can be somewhere in the middle of these two, remember butter should be a fluid motion so go with what feels right. 

Common Mistakes

Skiers-jump

Dins

Not having your din setting on your binding correctly and popping straight out as soon as you try to butter, is probably the most common mistake. You’re putting your entire body weight against your bindings so consult a ski technician and make sure they’re at the correct setting.

Not Flexing

Many people simply pop rather than flex their skis which isn’t true butter. Often riders try to rush the rotation, a butter is stylish and chilled so there’s no need to rush. Take your time and sit into the butter. 

Folding At The Waist

The butter should come from the shifting of weight from your entire body and the flex of the skis, not from a bent waist. Not only is it poor technique, but it won’t give off the effortless feel a butter should have.

Spinning Too Quickly

Often riders try to rush the rotation, a butter is stylish and chilled so there’s no need to rush. Take your time and sit in the butter. 

Having Too Much Weight On One Foot

As much as possible, your weight should be 50/50 on each foot or there’s a higher risk of injury. 

Who Is The Best At Butters

The old-school skier Phil Casabon is one of the best at incorporating butter into a rail jib, an incredibly difficult combination performed perfectly by the Canadian skier.

Jake Mageau is also a lover of butter and is the perfect example of the effortless style in which buttering can be performed. At the 2022 X Games in Aspen, Jake won silver in the Wendy’s Ski Knuckle Huck event by performing a series of butter over the knuckle.

The Best Skis For Butter 2022

Choosing the right ski to butter on is important, many factors will affect the way your butter is performed. For example, note that softer skis won’t spring out as much as stiffer skis so keep in mind what skis you’re on whilst buttering. When learning, go for a soft, gently rockered ski like the Line Blend. This will make it easier to bend when wanting to get onto the tips of your skis. 

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For those more experienced in buttering and are wanting to achieve even bigger butter, go for a stiffer and still rockered ski. The ON3P Jeffrey or Faction Prodigy 3.0 will provide more stability when doing harder, faster butter, and their stiffness will allow for more pop.

Can I Butter On A Snowboard?

Yes, you can butter on a snowboard, and some even believe it to be easier than on skis. It’s more of a natural movement on a board as the tail and tip are closer together on the snowboard which makes it easier to move the center of mass over them.

Snowboard FIS World Cup
Photo by LG전자 under CC BY 2.0

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve got the hang of buttering, there are endless combinations you can incorporate the trick into. Butter onto a rail, out of a trick, and just jibbing around. It’s the perfect trick to add style to a combination. Practice hard and the trick will come to you and only get smoother with time. 

Jumping skier at jump with alpine high mountains

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