What is Jib Skiing? (Why it’s Taken Off)
You might have come across jib skiing or jibbing when reading a magazine article but never realized what it entailed. The origins of the word are misty, but its worldwide popularity is absolutely clear, with new terrain parks and snow parks regularly appearing around the world. But what exactly are jib skiing and snowboarding? And who does it?
Jib skiing or snowboarding involves skiing across any man-made or natural surface (jib), which isn’t covered with snow. Man-made jibs include rails, park benches, tabletops, and numerous other features in terrain parks and snow parks. The skier or jibber is taking part in jibbing to demonstrate his skill and agility on surfaces other than snow. While there are plenty of natural features around resorts to jib, most jibbers are attracted to the sociability and man-made features of the terrain park.
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Grinding on skateboards, where skateboarders perform stunts in skateboard parks on man-made surfaces, was the precursor to snowboard jibbing, where many of the skills on skateboards were slowly transferred to snowboards and subsequently to skis.
Californian enthusiast, Tom Sims, was something of a pioneer, starting on surfboards and skateboards and he went on to help to promote snowboard and ski jibbing to a new mainstream audience in the 1980s. He developed his brand of jibbing snowboards and even employed a team of experienced skateboarders to demonstrate their capabilities on snowboards and market the boards at the same time.
The skateboarders soon realized their skills were entirely transferable to the snowboards and a whole new audience enthusiastically tried out their abilities in this new discipline. A natural marketeer, Tom Sims, then organized for photographs of his team’s stunts to be sent to International Snowboard Magazine.
Their natural style and athleticism proved to be a winner, attracting worldwide attention, and helping to promote the crossover between the identities of skateboarding and snowboarding. So much so it has now been an Olympic discipline in the slopestyle category since the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi in Russia.
The goal of jibbing is to perform stunts stylishly, over, along, and across any manner of surfaces while demonstrating control and balance. These are some of the most popular types of jib:
- Rails – are usually made from metal and feature a flat or rounded surface. You can buy a home version for practice.
- Tabletop – tables are popular jibs among beginners. Their size makes them more forgiving and so easier to jump. They are great for building confidence and general technique.
- Fallen trees are natural jibbing surfaces that can be found both on the side of trails and in the backcountry. They can be unpredictable as a small branch stump or uneven bark can easily catch an edge.
- Box – A box is wider than a rail and is made from polyurethane. Home versions are widely available for practice.
- Wallride – The steep walls are almost vertical and often have an angled surface near the peak. Your edges won’t be any use on the wall, so just use the ski base. Make sure you maintain the right body position throughout.
- Mailbox – A large diameter metal pipe of varying length with a cross-section resembling a mailbox.
- Park bench and picnic table – A fun type of jib that resembles a park bench or picnic table. The edges are generally made of metal rails, while the surfaces are molded with polyethylene (UHMWPE). The combined surfaces offer plenty of choices for sliding.
- Rainbow – These semi-circular boxes have rails over the top surface so skiers and snowboarders can slide over from one side to the other.
- Kink – these boxes and rails have kinks which are sudden changes in the angle of the surface.
- Pole jam – this is a large diameter tube, which is inserted into a jump at an angle. The skier approaches the jump, transfers to the pole, slides along its length and then jumps off the end.
- Barrel – these are large metal or plastic barrels, which are placed just after a jump. This enables the skier to jump straight over or slide over the top surface of the barrel.
Best Equipment for Ski and Snowboard Jibbing
- Skis - The best type of skis for jibbing is freestyle park skis, which are specifically designed for jibbing. However, when choosing skis or a snowboard you do also have to consider the type of jibbing you will be doing and how good you are at it.
- Ski flex - Skis with a softcore construction will provide the flexibility and agility you need for jibbing.
- Ski profile - A ski profile that is rockered both front and back will not only improve maneuverability, but the shape will also reduce the chance of snagging an edge at the tip or tail.
- Width - Average to wider skis (85mm to 105mm) offers the best compromise between stability and agility, however, this is dependent on your style to a degree.
- Length - For agility, slightly shorter skis offer the best performance, both in terms of maneuverability and the lighter weight of the ski during spins and flips.
There is no one fits all choice for freestyle skis, as their performance is dependent on your skiing style and what you hope to achieve in the terrain park. For example, if you like competition and going harder, then stiffer skis with good edges will provide the control and stable landings you’re looking for. However, if taking things a bit more slowly is more your bag, then a wider softer ski will enable you to be creative in the tricks you pull.
- Boards - As with skis, freestyle boards are best for snowboard jibbing and tricks in general. Freestyle boards are light, flexible, and shorter than usual. Flexibility is particularly important in negotiating jibs and clean landings. Freestyle boards often have tips at either end for traveling in either direction.
Where are some of the Best Terrain or Snow Parks for Jibbing?
US and Canada
- Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
- Breckenridge, Colorado
- Mammoth Mountain, California
- Northstar, California
- Park City, Utah