By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Listening to snowboarders reeling off the names of the tricks they laid down in their Olympic runs can be a confusing experience for fans and media alike.
After one boarder went through their his after qualification for the snowboard slopestyle event, a reporters couldn’t help but exclaim “what the hell is a chicken salad?”
The boarder laughed and explained that it is a move where the rider reaches between their legs with their rear hand to grab the heel edge of the board while keeping one leg extended.
Other trick names heard this week include “roast beef”, “melon” and “indy”, all of which are grabs, as well as flips with names like “wildcat” and “tamedog”.
All the spinning tricks such as “cork” or “stalefish”, named by American skateboarder Tony Hawk after horrible meal served at a camp in Sweden, are paired with a number that reflects the degrees of rotation performed.
Snowboard tricks, many originating from skateboarding, have a bamboozling array of names but far from being nonsense, many come from the rich heritage of skateboarding and other extreme sports.
Hawk, widely regarded as one of the sport’s great pioneers and the first man to land a fabled 900, says the rebellious nature of extreme sports leads to the odd names.
“The basic rule is if you did it first, you get to name it,” Hawk told Reuters via email.
“Skateboarding has always been irreverent, so we liked to keep the names silly and full of puns.”
One of the most popular tricks seen in Pyeongchang is the “Cab” – short for Caballerial – a spinning move named after skateboarding pioneer Steve Caballero.
“In skateboarding, it is a no-handed 360 aerial where you ride up the wall backwards and land forwards. Since the snowboard is attached to your feet, almost any backwards spinning move starts with a Cab,” Hawk said.
It is not uncommon for tricks to be named after the people who first performed them, including the McTwist, a forward flipping backside 540.
American Shaun White, who won his third Olympic gold medal in the men’s halfpipe on Wednesday, is credited with creating a double McTwist, which includes a 720 degree rotation, and performing it for the first time when winning halfpipe gold at Vancouver in 2010.
White also performed a trick named a “Tomahawk” after a large steak enjoyed at the Winter X Games in his gold medal run on Wednesday.
The performance showcased White’s stunning repertoire but the tricks that won him the title were the 1440s at the beginning of his set.
It was the first time two tricks involving eight full spins have been performed back-to-back in the same run at a major competition.
“I was fearful of doing that trick,” White told reporters.
“I did a couple of them in practice during the holiday break but then I fell and got sick, so I guessed it would have to wait for the Olympics.”
White knew he had to deliver this set of tricks to take gold from Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, another man capable of back-to-back 1440s.
“I knew I had it in me and the fear was out of the door because I am at the Olympics and I have got to do it,” White said.
“So I am standing at the top, in my favorite position, with the pressure of the world, one run to go.
“I put it down, linked the combinations and landing the first 14 really set the tone for the other one as I landed really well.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond)