Editor’s Note: Vincent Gagnier’s trick in last week’s Fenway Park Big Air Comp is the latest viral phenomenon in the world of skiing. Both the event announcers and the ski media lost their collective minds over this, calling the move “crazy,” “mind-bending,” and “physics-defying.”
We admit that we were super impressed, too — and equally confused about what we’d just seen.
So we emailed our resident park expert, Scott Nelson, and asked, “The announcers were freaking out about this, but do you think they were right to? How big of a deal is this really?”
Well it isn’t unprecedented. His older brother, freeski legend / childhood hero of mine, Charles Gagnier, first did this trick in 2011. And sure, the announcers might be correct in saying that this trick has never been done in a big air competition, but Vinny has done this trick in slopestyle competition. He completed this trick on the Dew Tour in 2013 (that time, he grabbed the leading tail) and, perhaps more perplexingly than the trick itself, the announcers thought he’d just done a “cork 7”.
Technically, this is a very, very difficult and unique trick, but he isn’t breaking any laws of physics. Essentially, the trick is broken down into two distinct parts.
The trick starts as a switch right-side rodeo / super corked 540, with a right handed (opposite/leading) mute grab. That’s a fairly difficult trick in and of itself—in my experience, leading grabs in switch cork 540s tend to make your body want to continue to 720, landing backwards. But here, Vinny finishes the 540 with his lower body, but never really finishes the 540 with his shoulders … which leads us into the second part of the trick….
Once he’s about 3/4 of the way done with the flip, with his stomach facing the ground and his shoulders facing toward the skier’s left side of the scaffolding, he does a cat-twist.
What’s a cat-twist? (Be prepared to get sucked in to this entire video…)
He segments his upper and lower body in different directions to generate twist in the opposite direction of his radial momentum.
It’s one of the first things you’re taught in just about any form of acrobatics, because it’s an injury prevention tool — you may have to generate twist to get to your feet (or at least your shoulder blades) if you’re about to come down onto your neck.