Taking flight can be the ultimate rush on a snowmobile. But hitting a jump is a learned skill you won’t necessarily try your first time in the snow. It takes patience and practice to jump a sled properly.
I’m Chaz, and I live for all things snowmobile-related. I first learned to jump about 20 years ago when I was still a kid. Back then, my skills were mainly learned through trial and error. Today, I ride much more safely but still hit jumps often.
In this article, I’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to jump a snowmobile. This is a lot of fun, but the dangers are real if you don’t know what you are doing.
Hang on tight and get ready for takeoff!
Table of Contents
Safety, Safety, Safety
Before teaching you any of the steps you need to know to jump on a snowmobile, I want to stress the importance of safety.
Riding around at high speeds on a machine that weighs hundreds of pounds has obvious dangers that come alongside. Launch that machine into the air, and the risks increase even further.
If you misjudge a takeoff or a landing, you can easily fly off your snowmobile and have it come crashing down on top of you. The risk of physical injury and even death is a possibility. It doesn’t take much to have things go really wrong.
I don’t say this to scare you out of attempting to jump. I just want you to limit your risks by keeping safety precautions in mind at all times.
Always wear a helmet. Make sure you have a clear view of the jump and landing zone and that there are no other people or obstacles in the way. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe, don’t be pressured into attempting a risky maneuver.
This stuff is common sense, but I’ve seen things go wrong first hand, and it’s scary. Even if you play it safe, accidents can still happen.
How to Jump a Snowmobile
Some riders can learn how to catch air pretty intuitively, and it seems to come naturally. Others will need quite a bit of practice. No matter what side of this you are on, always start on smaller jumps and build your way up until you feel capable and confident.
1. Scope out the take-off and landing before jumping
The first step to jumping a snowmobile is safety-related. You want to make sure that the jump is clear of any obstacles, which is even more important for the landing zone. One little bump or branch in the way can throw you and the sled off-center and cause a wreck.
Walk or ride around the jump and the landing area. Make sure there are no exposed rocks, stumps, or even icy bumps to get in the way. Even if it’s a natural feature like a cliff or gap you are jumping, always scout it out ahead of time before hucking over the edge.
You also want to make sure that the landing area isn’t flat. A gentle slope will help absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury. Similar to ski jumps, landing on flat ground is to be avoided.
2. Approach the jump steady and in control
The key to hitting a jump in control and landing where you want to is directly related to how well you can handle the throttle and brake.
If it’s your first time attempting a jump, do a couple of practice runs. Make a false approach towards the takeoff to judge the speed needed. If you have jumpy throttle or brake control on these practice runs, you might not be ready.
You want to have a smooth approach that isn’t too fast or too slow. You also don’t want to gun the throttle as you approach the takeoff point, as this will cause the front end of the sled to lift too high.
Steady and in control speed is essential in your approach.
3. Stay balanced and anticipate the jump
Once you are ready to commit to hitting the jump, you need to keep your body balanced in anticipation for the moment of liftoff.
Make sure both of your feet are touching the rails with equal weight on each leg. You want to have a firm grip on the handlebars and need to avoid any sudden turning maneuvers as you reach the lip.
I like to stand up just a little bit when I’m about to take off. I do the same thing when jumping on a dirt bike or bicycle. Not every rider has this approach, but I think it helps with my balance and anticipation and would recommend giving it a try.
Balanced hands and feet will prevent you from leaning one way or the other, affecting the landing.
4. Stick the landing
Once you are in the air, enjoy the ride! It will end quickly, so you also need to prepare to come back down to earth.
Look at your landing area and maintain balance while in the air. Do not lean heavily to either side (unless you are attempting to correct the machine in the air) and try to match the landing zone’s angle.
As you hit the snow, the snowmobile will naturally dig in because of a little thing called gravity. You need to hit the throttle to avoid getting too pitted into the hole this causes. Again, a smooth transition from the moment of landing to hitting the throttle is ideal.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
It takes time for most riders to learn how to jump correctly. Start with smaller jumps and hit them repeatedly to get the hang of how each step mentioned here feels. When these feel good, go a little bit bigger.
Catching air on different features such as a cliff or a natural gap will have a different feel than a handmade jump. The basic elements to jumping these features are the same, and the steps here still apply.
Keep in mind that the professional riders you see on the internet or in magazines have spent years learning how to catch big air. Their skills are impressive, but they didn’t learn how to do this overnight. Chances are, you may never go as big as they do.
If you have never attempted to jump a snowmobile before, you might not get the hang of it for a while. Take your time and don’t rush it, the patience and experience will pay off, and you’ll be catching air soon enough.
Do you have any other jumping tips/suggestions I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below!About Chaz Wyland