2nd September 2005

Rail Flip Routine

Rail flips have always been one of the greatest things, if you ask me. I mean, does it get much better than Rodney Mullens triple rail flip to rail in his Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 video? (Okay, it does, and this has given me an idea to write a ‘top 10 tricks I’ve seen’ article so I can decide just how much better it gets – but you get the idea).

I may have a long way to go until I can do that trick (if indeed I ever can) but today I took my first step on the ladder, so to speak. So this is my ‘routine’ so far then. While most of it isn’t particularly impressive on its own, like most flatland skateboarding the challenge is in stringing it all together into one smooth run.

1. The Rail Stand Position

Okay, I’m too lame to be able to get into a rail stand without placing the skateboard down on it’s side by hand. Later on I intend to start standing normally and do some sort of flip into the rail stand, but for now this will have to do.

So if you don’t know what a rail stand is, this is it – the board standing on it’s edge, with you standing on the side of the wheels and the edge of the deck. For this trick have it so the grip tape is facing you with the wheels on the other side, and stand one step away from the skateboard. Much like this, then:

Getting In To A Rail Stand

2. Kick Pirouette

Next, step on to the skateboard with one foot (in my case, my right foot). For best balance, the ball of your foot should be between the wheel and the deck, with your toes over the wheel. The reason I step on to the skateboard like this, making it part of the trick, is to get momentum to spin the board. As you can see, your other foot is already gaining speed while you step.

Kick The Board...

The intention is to part kick, part push the skateboard deck with your other foot, turning your shoulders as you do, in order to pirouette the skateboard in its rail position as much as possible. I suppose the ideal is 360° or more but for now I’m lucky if I get 90°. You pirouette around the wheels that your foot is standing on, so applying most of your weight to that foot will anchor the board nicely and, depending on your board, may lift the other end slightly making it easier to turn.

...and Turn

3. Rail Turn

This is the part where you are most likely to lose your balance. You need to step your other foot onto the other wheel without losing your momentum. For a while I would simply stop after this point but then it occurred to me that I had a lot of turning power still left so I began to spin the skateboard some more. As you can see from the diagram below, the point of rotation is now the centre of the skateboard.

Turning With Both Feet On The Rail

The turn is achieved really in the same way that a powerslide is. You place your hips at an angle to the board so you can push the skateboard in two directions from two different places. So in the diagram above, my right hip would be hanging out over the wheel allowing my right leg to push back, while my left hip would be back on the griptape side so my left leg can push forwards. The additional momentum of your shoulders means you can turn quite far before friction stops you.

4. Varial Rail Flip

It seems the key to this trick is really to only use one foot. One strange thing about rail flips is that I use my off-foot to pop – that is, my right foot. Being a goofy footed skater usually my left foot does all the work, but it seems much more natural in a rail stand to flip using my right. Anybody else notice this?

Anyway, as I slow down from the rail turn above, I start thinking about the actual flip. Ideally, this needs to come right off the back of the turn, so the momentum is still there. However, I rarely accomplish this because it’s too hard to keep balance. Coming to a stop and then flipping is still super nice.

Like any trick that requires popping, I crouch as I prepare to jump. Just as I jump, I lift my left foot off the skateboard slightly, which does two things – One, it puts all my weight onto the other wheels, which aids in lifting the left hand side of the skateboard and getting more pop. Two, it gives the skateboard room to flip round.

Also as I jump, I’m continuing the movement of the back foot and kicking back, and also down. So this is going to cause the skateboard to do a varial (because I’m kicking backwards) and a flip (because of the downwards pressure against the ground). It needs to do one and a quarter flips to come back round and land properly. Unfortunately at the moment I think it’s more luck than judgement whether the rail flip will be landable. A lot of times it will land itself in another rail stand – when I land this, I’ll let you know!

Really, it’s much the same process as a backside pop shuvit (see this article on shuvits to see what I mean).

So, Did I Land More Than One?

Errr… no not really. Not at all. I came very close several times, but I am really hyped up about this now and I’m sure I can make it consistent and improve the sequence some more. One thing I would definattely like to include is actually doing like a ballet pirouette on my right foot, probably in between the kick pirouette and the rail turn, and of course I need to work out how to start this off without having to place the skateboard in position…