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Snowboarder in halfpipe.jpg
Snowboarder in a half-pipe
First played 1960s, United States
Categorization Outdoor
Equipment Snowboard
Olympic 1998

Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a slope that is covered with snow on a snowboard attached to a rider's feet using a special boot set into a flexible mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the U.S.A. in the 1960s and the 1970s and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998.



Proposed state quarter design commemorating the first snowboard being invented in Utah
Snowboarder "dropping" a cornice.
Snowboarder riding off cornice
Snowboarding contributes greatly to the economies of ski resorts

Many crude versions of the snowboard were made up to 100 years before the first commercially manufactured model, but it is believed that the first snowboard was invented and manufactured in Utah beginning in the early 1970s. This claim was commemorated in 2007 by the United States mint when a snowboard theme was among the three semi-final designs of the Utah state quarter.[1]

There are also claims that the first snowboard was the Snurfer (a portmanteau of snow and surfer), originally designed by Sherman Poppen for his daughter in 1965 in Muskegon, Michigan.[2] Poppen’s Snurfer started to be manufactured as a toy the following year. It was essentially a skateboard without wheels, steered by a hand-held rope, and lacked bindings, but had provisions to cause footwear to adhere.[3] During the 1970s and 1980s as snowboarding became more popular, pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich, Sonny Sini, Jake Burton Carpenter (founder of Burton Snowboards from Londonderry, Vermont), Tom Sims (founder of Sims Snowboards), Chuck Barfoot (founder of Barfoot Snowboards) and Mike Olson (founder of Gnu Snowboards) came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that slowly developed into the snowboards and other related equipment that we know today.[3]

Dimitrije Milovich, an east coast surfer, had the idea of sliding on cafeteria trays. From this he started developing his snowboard designs. In 1975, he started a company called the WinterStick, which was mentioned in 1975 by Newsweek magazine. The Winterstick was based on the design and feel of a surfboard, but worked the same way as skis.[4] In the spring of 1976 Welsh skateboarders Jon Roberts and Pete Matthews developed a Plywood deck with foot bindings for use on the Dry Ski Slope at the school camp, Ogmore-by-Sea, Wales. UK. Further development of the board was limited as Matthews suffered serious injury while boarding at Ogmore and access for the boarders was declined following the incident. The 'deck' was much shorter than current snow boards. Beveled edges and a convex, polyurethane varnished bottom to the board, allowed quick downhill movement, but limited turning ability.

Sonny Sini actually pioneered the "boot and hook" snowboard design in 1979 which utilized a carbon fiber sleeker design. He worked to further the development of the foot bindings of the board by specializing a set of boots so they would actually "hook" onto the board. His designs were later abandoned because they did not allow the rider to easily snap out if needed. He didn't have the chance to copyright his designs because soon after their conception he was killed after falling out of a helicopter.

In 1979 the first ever World Snurfing Championship was held at Pando Winter Sports Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake Burton Carpenter, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own design. There were many protests from the competitors about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, the top snurfer at the time, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A “modified” division was created and won by Jake as the sole entrant. That race was considered the first competition for snowboards and is the start of what has now become competitive snowboarding.[5][6]

In 1982 the first National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont at Suicide Six.[4]

In 1983 the first World Championship halfpipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California. Tom Sims, founder of Sims Snowboards, organized the event with the help of Mike Chantry a snowboard instructor at Soda Springs.[7]

Snowboarding's growing popularity is reflected in its recognition as an official sport: in 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria. The International Snowboard Association (ISA) was founded in 1994 to provide universal contest regulations. In addition, the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA) provides instructing guidelines and runs snowboard competitions in the U.S. Today, high-profile snowboarding events like the Olympic Games, Winter X-Games, US Open, and other events are broadcast worldwide. Many alpine resorts have terrain parks.

Initially, ski areas adopted the sport at a much slower pace than the winter sports public. Indeed, for many years, there was animosity between skiers and snowboarders, which lead to an ongoing skier vs snowboarder feud.[8] Early snowboards were banned from the slopes by park officials. For several years snowboarders would have to take a small skills assessment prior to being allowed to ride the chairlifts. It was thought that an unskilled snowboarder would wipe the snow off of the mountain. In 1985, only seven percent of U.S. ski areas allowed snowboarding,[9] with a similar proportion in Europe. As equipment and skills improved, gradually snowboarding became more accepted. In 1990, most major ski areas had separate slopes for snowboarders. Now, approximately 97% of all ski areas in North America and Europe allow snowboarding, and more than half have jumps, rails and half pipes.

An excellent year for snowboarding was 2004 with 6.6 million participants.[10] An industry spokesman said that "twelve year-olds are out-riding adults." The same article said that most snowboarders are 18–24 years old and that females constitute 25% of participants.

Though widely accepted now, there are still some major US resorts that don't allow snowboarders, like Alta Ski Area, Deer Valley and Vermont's Mad River Glen.


Since snowboarding's inception as an established winter sport, it has developed various styles, each with its own specialized equipment and technique. The most common styles today are: freeride, freestyle, and freecarve/race. These styles are used for both recreational and professional snowboarding. While each style is unique, there is overlap between them. See also List of snowboard tricks.

Jibbing and Rail Riding

Rail riding (also known as jibbing) is a technique in snowboarding where the riders will ride over rails and other like obstacles, both man-made or natural, typically in a park or urban environment. Freeride snowboarders also commonly find incidental jibs, such as a downed tree, that prove suitable to ride over in the course of their line or run.


The freeride style is the most common and easily accessible style of snowboarding. It involves riding down any terrain available. Freeriding may include aerial tricks and jib (any type of fixture which can be ridden with the board/skis that is not snow) tricks borrowed from freestyle, or deep carve turns more common in alpine snowboarding, utilizing whatever natural terrain the rider may encounter.

Freeriding equipment is usually a stiff soft shell boot with a directional twin snowboard: since the freeride style may encounter many different types of snow conditions, such as ice to deep pow down powder slope.

Dry Slope

Dry slopes are man-made slopes which provide an alternative terrain for snowboarders wanting to snowboard during the summer or for those who live too far away from a snowy mountain. They are constructed with a solid cross-hatched metal base which hold plastic bristles for riding on. Dry slopes are commonly found in England and parts of Europe but are rare in the United States. Equipment used is usually old or retired snowboards because of the wear caused by the metal base and plastic bristles over time.[11]


In freestyle, the rider uses manmade terrain features such as rails, jumps, boxes, and innumerable other innovative features to perform tricks on. The term "box" refers to an object with a slick top, usually of polyethylene(HDPE), that the rider can slide on with the base of their board. Like all freestyle features, boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. The intent of freestyle is to use these terrain features to perform a number of aerial or jib tricks. The term "jib" refers to the rider doing a slide or press on an object not made of snow. This most commonly refers to tricks done on boxes, rails, or even trees.

The equipment used in freestyle is usually a soft boot with a twin tipped board for better balance while riding regular or switch, though freeride equipment is often used successfully. The most common binding stance used in freestyle is called "duck foot", in which the trailing foot has a negative degree of arc setup while the leading foot is in the positive range i.e. +12°/-9°. Freestyle riders who specialize in jibbing often use boards that are shorter than usual, with softer flex and filed down edges. Shorter length enables the board to be rotated faster, and a softer flex requires less energy for a rider to press a feature. Reverse camber boards, or better known as rocker boards, are most often used as freestyle boards due to their softer flex and inverted 'camber' design.[12] Pressing refers to a type of jib where the rider leans heavily toward the nose or tail of their board- causing the opposite end of their board to lift off of the feature they are sliding on.

Freestyle also includes halfpipe tricks. A halfpipe (or "pipe") is a trench-like half-tube made of snow. Tricks performed may be rotations such as a 360° (a full turn) in the air, or an off-axis spin like a "McTwist". Tricks can be modified while hitting different features. Riders will also usually perform a combination of board grabs, rotations and somersaults.


Similar to skiing, this race and slalom focused style is still practiced, though infrequently. Sometimes called alpine snowboarding, or the 'euro-carve', freecarving takes place on hard packed snow or groomed runs and focuses on the ultimate carving turn, much like traditional skiing. Little or no jumping takes place in this discipline. Freecarve equipment is a ski-like hardshell boot and plate binding system with a true directional snowboard that is usually very stiff and narrow to facilitate fast and responsive turns. Shaped-skis can thank these "freecarve" snowboards for the cutting-edge technology leading to their creation.[13]

Safety and precautions

Like other winter sports, snowboarding comes with a certain level of danger.[14] Protective gear is increasing in popularity. This is a natural progression in any high-velocity sport which has the possibility for injury. The progression of protective gear is also attributed to professional riders adopting protective gear, with Shaun White being a premier competitor advertising the use of helmets. Wearing protective gear is highly recommended to all participants, beginner or advanced, due to the dangerous nature of alpine sports. The body parts most often injured in snowboarding are the wrist and ankle.[15] The wrists, scaphoid fractures and Colles fractures of the wrist are relatively common, with around 100,000 wrist fractures worldwide among snowboarders each year,[16] tailbone, head, dependent on landing position could cause serious brain injury. Avalanches are a clear danger when on snowy mountain slopes.[17] The use of portable ultrasound for mountainside diagnostics has been reviewed and appears to be a plausible tool for diagnosing some of the more common injuries associated with the sport [18] It is best to learn the different kinds of avalanches, how to prevent causing one and how to react when one is going to happen. Also when going out onto the snow, all who practice an activity with increased chances of injury should have a basic First Aid knowledge and know how to deal with injuries that may occur[19].

The recommended protective safety gear includes wrist guards and helmets (as snowboarders often land on their hands and knees, resulting in wrist breakage). Knee Ligament Injuries are number one in the list of Snowboarding and Skiing Injuries[20]. Get familiar with Medial collateral ligament Sprain (MCL Sprain) and padded/protected snowboarding pants, and a helmet. Snowboarding boots should be well-fitted, with toes snug in the end of the boot to minimize movement. Goggles are crucial on bright days to prevent snow blindness and protect riders from temporary vision loss to eye damage from snow from impacts into terrain or obstacles. Padding or "armor" is recommended on other body parts such as hips, knees, spine, and shoulders. To further help avoid injury to body parts, especially knees, it is recommended to use the right technique. To acquire the right technique, one should be taught by a qualified instructor, this way you will hear about other people's mistakes and are less likely to have to learn from your own. Also, when snowboarding alone, precaution should be taken to avoid tree wells, a particularly dangerous area of loose snow that may form at the base of trees.



Competitors perform tricks while descending a course, moving around, over, across, or down terrain features. The course is full of obstacles including boxes, rails, jumps, jibs (includes anything the board or rider can slide across). Slopestyle contests consists of choosing your own line in a terrain park using a variety of boxes, jibs and jumps. To win a slopestyle contest one must pick the best and most difficult line in the terrain park and have a smooth flowing line of tricks performed on the obstacles.

Big Air

Big Air competitions are contests where riders perform tricks after launching off a man made jump built specifically for the event.[21] Competitors perform tricks in the air, aiming to attain sizable height and distance, all while securing a clean landing. Many competitions also require the rider to do a trick to win the prize. Not all competitions call for a trick to win the gold; some intermittent competitions are based solely on height and distance of the launch of the snowboarder. One of the first snowboard competitions where Travis Rice attempted and landed a "double backflip backside 180" took place at the 2006 Red Bull Gap Session.


The half-pipe is a semi-circular ditch or purpose built ramp (that is usually on a downward slope), between 8 and 22 feet (6.7 m) deep. Competitors perform tricks while going from one side to the other and while in the air above the sides of the pipe.


In Boardercross (also known as "Boarder X"), several riders (usually 4, but sometimes 6) race down a course similar to a motorcycle motocross track (with jumps, berms and other obstacles constructed out of snow on a downhill course). Unlike traditional head-to-head races, competitors use the same terrain, sometimes resulting in accidental collisions.

Competitions involve a series of heats, traditionally with the first 2 riders in each heat advancing to the next round. The overall winner is the rider that finishes first in the final round.


Much like Boardercross (above), but instead with single-competitor runs, so as to remove 'pole positioning' from competitive equation; the rider has to skid and turn down the course. Normally there are 3 runs.

Rail Jam

A rail jam is a jib contest. Riders perform tricks on rails, boxes, pipes, wall rides, and several other creative features. Rail jams are done in a small area, usually with two or three choices of features for the rider to hit on a run. They are sometimes done in an urban setting, due to the relatively small amount of snow required. Scoring is done in the "jam" format, where every rider can take as many runs as time allows, usually around an hour; prizes are typically awarded for best overall and best trick in the male and female category.


The racing events are slalom, giant slalom, and super G. In slalom, boarders race downhill through sets of gates that force extremely tight turns, requiring plenty of technical skill as well as speed.

Giant slalom uses a much longer course with gates set further apart, resulting in even higher speeds. Super G is the fastest of all, with speeds of up to 45 mph (72 km/h).

Slush Cup

The slush cup or "pond skim" is an event held at some ski hills on the last day of the season, the point being to cross a manmade lake at the bottom of the hill. Very few people make it across but there are often prizes for all that try. This event is more just for fun than other types of competition.

Well-known events

Some of the larger snowboarding contests include: the Air & Style, the X-Trail Jam, Burton Global Open Series, Shakedown, and the X Games.

The Ticket to Ride (World Snowboard Tour) is the largest culmination of independent freestyle events acting under one common Tour Flag. Officially recognized as the TTR World Snowboard Tour or simply ‘The TTR’, this culmination of Independent Freestyle Snowboard events has grown substantially over the last four years. Now in its seventh year, the TTR has a 10-month competition season including snowboarding events over four geographical zones. The Tour includes events like the TTR 6Star Air & Style, The Arctic Challenge and the US Open of Snowboarding.

Snowboarder Magazine's Superpark event was created in 1996 and is the 3rd largest snowboarding event in the world. Over 150 of the World's top pros are invited to advance freestyle snowboarding on the most progressive terrain parks.[22]

A wave of Anti Contests[23] have taken over snowboarding including The Holy Oly Revival [24] at The Summit at Snoqualmie, The Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic at Whitefish, the World Quarterpipe Championships and the Grenade Games.

One of the more unique and legendary contests is the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom. Since 1985 it has been won by some of the biggest names in the history of the sport and continues to be an event that attracts the top riders from around the world. Terje Haakonsen and Karleen Jeffery are the riders that have won the most in the race with six wins each.


The snowboarding way of life came about to rebel against the more sophisticated way of skiing, and skiers did not easily accept this new culture on their slopes. The two cultures contrasted each other in several ways including how they spoke, acted, and their entire style of clothing. Snowboarders first embraced the punk and later the hip-hop look into their style. Words such as "dude", "gnarly", and "Shred the Gnar" are some examples of words used in the snowboarding culture. Snowboarding subculture became a crossover between the urban and suburban styles on snow, which made an easy transition from surfing and skateboarding culture over to snowboarding culture.[25]

The early stereotypes of snowboarding have been known to be "lazy", "grungy", "punk", "stoners", "troublemakers", and numerous others, many of which are associated with skateboarding and surfing. However, these stereotypes may be considered "out of style". Snowboarding has become a sport that encompasses a very diverse international based crowd and fanbase, so much so that it's hard to stereotype such a large community. Reasons for these dying stereotypes include how mainstream and popular the sport has become, with the shock factor of snowboarding's quick take off on the slopes wearing off. Skiers and snowboarders are becoming used to each other, showing more respect to each other on the mountain. "The typical stereotype of the sport is changing as the demographics change".[26]


The language of snowboarders is a collision of two opposite styles. The general tone of the language is a laid-back style, while the verbs and adjectives project a much more aggressive tone. Shred, stomp, mob,wildhood, and crank are combined with adjectives such as sick, sketchy, tight, wicked, steezy, rad, gnar gnar, buttery, ill, and gnarly[27] Snowboarders also have many words for snow, including freshies, hard pack, hero snow, pow pow, mashed potatoes, hot pow and boiler plate.[28]

Local Scenes

Snowboarding culture thrives in the communities of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, parts of New England, Colorado, Utah, California and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Countries with strong snowboarding subcultures and many local riders include Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Chile and New Zealand. The title "Snowboarder City" is used by snowboarders to describe both Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and Innsbruck, Austria.



Snowboarding films have become a main part of progression in the sport. Each season, many films are released, usually in Autumn. These are made by many snowboard specific video production companies as well as manufacturing companies that use these films as a form of advertisement. Snowboarding videos usually contain video footage of professional riders sponsored by companies. An example of commercial use of snowboarding films would be The White Album, a film by snowboarding legend and filmmaker Dave Seoane about Shaun White, that includes cameos by Tony Hawk and was sponsored by PlayStation, Mountain Dew and Burton Snowboards. Snowboarding films are also used as documentation of snowboarding and showcasing of current trends and styles of the sport.

Snowboarding films also offer professional snowboarders an opportunity to focus on a creative project as an alternative to traveling exclusively for competitions. An example of this is professional snowboarder David Benedek. His film company, Blank Paper Studios, produced the documentary 91 Words For Snow (2006) as well as a collection of short films, In Short (2007).

Snowboarding has also been the focus of numerous Hollywood feature films. An early Hollywood nod to snowboarding was in the James Bond film A View to a Kill — the opening sequence features Roger Moore as Bond eluding attackers with an improvised snowboard.

A new movie to be released on the Disney channel is called "Boarding on Snow" that has yet to announce a release date is casting one of the promising rookies of sport Julian Jose. The movie will also include "Johnny Tsunami" that was in a previous original movie.


Snowboard magazines are integral in promoting the sport, although less so with the advent of the internet age. Photo incentives are written into many professional riders' sponsorship contracts giving professionals not only a publicity but a financial incentive to have a photo published in a magazine. Snowboard magazine staff travel with professional riders throughout the winter season and cover travel, contests, lifestyle, rider and company profiles, and product reviews. Snowboard magazines have recently made a push to expand their brands to the online market, and there has also been a growth in online-only publications. Popular magazines include Transworld Snowboarding (USA), Snowboarder Magazine (USA), Snowboard Magazine (USA), Method (Europe), Onboard (UK), Step-On (UK), Powder Room (UK- women specific), Whiteroom Magazine (BG), Snowboard Canada (Canada)[29], and NZ Snowboarder. (New Zealand)[30]

Skills and exercises

Stance and balance

How to maintain body balance is the key point of this skill. It is critical for any snowboarder to keep his or her body on the center of the board. After the rider is well aware of his or her body balance, he or she can perform various tricks by moving the balance. Riders can improve this skill by doing exercises like hopping between each turn, or switch riding.


This is a skill any talented snowboarder must have in order to maintain control while going down the mountain. There are several ways to come to a complete stop. A boarder can put pressure down on their toe side edge, concentrating their weight on the back of the board. This will naturally guide the board to the right. If the boarder continues to put pressure on their toe side, they will eventually become perpendicular with the trail, and come to a stop. Another way to slow down and stop would be to put pressure on their heel side edge, which will guide the board to the left and will naturally slow down as the board becomes perpendicular to the trail.

Pivot and steering

This skill is closely related to the turning of the board. Pivoting and steering are mainly performed by rotation of the body. When people first ride snowboards, they are advised to use their upper body to move their boards. By rotating their upper body, they can change the direction of the boards. It is crucially important for an instructor to make riders feel the rotation of their body; from upper body to the board. To improve this skill, there are exercises such as fall line pivot, motorboat exercise, and static steering.


Riders can use their hips, knees, and ankles to create the edge. Key point of this skill is how to maintain body balance on the edge of the board. Riders can create much more speed by riding on the edge. Riders can also perform carving turns after they learn to keep their body balanced on the edge. Exercise for this skills are static edge change excersice, rail-to-rail, and J-turn. Also known as carving.

Pressure control

If riders are good at pressure control, they can perform much more stable riding. This skill is essential when riders are on the bumpy slope, or on the various terrains. By flexing or extending the body, a rider can absorb or add to the pressure of the board, controlling speed. Advanced riders can use lower parts of their bodies to control the pressure of the board. Exercises for this skill are fall line stop, ollies, nollies, and small straight air.

Timing and coordination

This skill is about changing in rhythm of the performance. If you are good at this skill, you are very confident with performing any kinds of turns by coordinate your body movement in a proper timing. Exercises for this skill are top gun turn, counting with focus on symmetry, and tornado turns.


A lot of beginner snowboarders find the first few days frustrating and thus opt to pay for lessons. While lessons may help you, many seasoned snowboarders never paid for such lessons. There are many ways to learn the sport without paying. Some well known ways are: 1. Videos, 2. The web, 3. Watching others, 4. Skateboarding (to keep you in shape during off-season), and 5. Practice. There is no 'magic rule' to learning the sport, but rather it's a matter of getting comfortable with it. And that takes time on the slopes.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Utah Quarter Final Proposals
  2. ^ "Flakezine". interview with Sherman Poppen. Retrieved 2008-10-17.  
  3. ^ a b "First Stoke". SnowBoard Education. Retrieved July 29, 2008.  
  4. ^ a b "Snowboard History". the beginning of Snowboarding. Retrieved 2008-01-17.  
  5. ^ Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan): B1–B2, January 15, 2008,  
  6. ^ "main page". Pando website. Retrieved 2008-01-16.  
  7. ^ "Transworld Snowboarding". A Complete History of the Snowboard Halfpipe.,26719,246570,00.html.  
  8. ^ Skiers vs Snowboaders: The Dying Feud,
  9. ^ Phillips, John (2001). Ski and Snowboard America - Mid-Atlantic: The Complete Guide to Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Tubing, and More Throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press. pp. 12. ISBN 076270845X.  
  10. ^ Marquardt, Katy (September 29, 2008). King of the Hill in Snowboards. US News and World Report.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ Buying Your First Snowboard
  13. ^
  14. ^ Snowboarding Safety & Guidelines @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  15. ^ Snowboarding Injuries - Snowboarder's Ankle @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  16. ^ Snowboarding Injuries - Wrist Fractures @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  17. ^ Snowboarding Safety - Avalanche Awareness @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ Ski Safety - First Aid for Snowboarding & Skiing @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  20. ^ Snowboarding Injuries - Knee Ligament Injuries @ ABC-of-Snowboarding
  21. ^ Making it Big in Big Air
  22. ^
  23. ^ The Anti Contests
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ Heino, Rebecca (2000). "New Sports: What is So Punk about Snowboarding". Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 24, 176-199. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from EBSCOHost.
  26. ^ BYU NewsNet - Snowboarder stereotype squelched
  27. ^ Urban Dictionary: steezy
  28. ^ 39 words for snow
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Snowboarding Blog - Don't Pay for Lessons

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Snowboarding is a sport that is much like skiing. A person stands on a snowboard and rides down a mountain covered with snow. A snowboard is a flat board with bindings that hold your feet in place while gliding down the mountain. It is different from skiing because both feet are on one board - like surfing.

Some snowboarders like to ride over jumps and do tricks. Some of the tricks you can do are: Indy, nosegrab, frontside 180, and backside 180. Most snowboarders also freeride. Freeride includes snowboarding on any available ground, which most often includes groomed runs.

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