A snowboarder making a turn in fresh snow.
|First played||1960s, United States|
|Equipment||Snowboard deck, bindings, boots|
Snowboarding is a winter sport that involves descending a slope that is covered with snow while standing on a board attached to a rider's feet, using a special boot set onto a mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the United States in the 1960s and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998. In 2002 competitive snowboarders formed the World Snowboard Tour.
Snowboarding has been around since the 1920s, when boys and men would tie plywood or wooden planks from barrels to their feet using clotheslines and horse reins in order to steer themselves down hills. Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. Dubbed the "snurfer" (combining snow and surfer), the toy proved so popular among his daughter's friends that Poppen licensed the idea to a manufacturer that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. And, in 1966 alone over half a million snurfers were sold.
In the early 1970s, Poppen organized snurfing competitions at a Michigan ski resort that attracted enthusiasts from all over the country. One of those early pioneers was Tom Sims, a devotee of skateboarding (a sport born in the 1950s when kids attached roller skate wheels to small boards that they steered by shifting their weight). As an eighth grader in Haddonfield, New Jersey, in the 1960s, Sims crafted a snowboard in his school shop class by gluing carpet to the top of a piece of wood and attaching aluminum sheeting to the bottom. He produced commercial snowboards in the mid 70s. During this same time, Dimitrije Milovich—an American surfing enthusiast who had also enjoyed sliding down snowy hills on cafeteria trays during his college years in upstate New York—constructed a snowboard called "Winterstick," inspired by the design and feel of a surfboard. Articles about his invention in such mainstream magazines as Newsweek helped publicize the young sport.
Also during this same period, in 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter, a Vermont native who had enjoyed snurfing since the age of 14, impressed the crowd at a Michigan snurfing competition with bindings he had designed to secure his feet to the board. That same year, he founded Burton Snowboards in Londonderry, Vermont. The "snowboards" were made of wooden planks that were flexible and had water ski foot traps. Very few people picked up snowboarding because the price of the board was considered too high at $38, but eventually Burton would become the biggest snowboarding company in the business. 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. Bevelled edges and a convex, polyurethane varnished bottom to the board, allowed quick downhill movement, but limited turning ability.
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.
During the 1970s and 1980s as snowboarding became more popular, pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich, 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.
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.
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 Federation (ISF) was founded in 1990 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 Winter X Games, Air & Style, US Open, Olympic Games 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 led to an ongoing skier vs snowboarder feud. 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, 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. 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. Now, entering the second decade of the 2000s, snowboarding continues to increase in popularity among all demographic regimes regardless of age, sex, or ability levels.
There was 8.2 million snowboarders in the USA for the 2009-2010 season, a 10% increase over the previous season, accounting for more than 30% of all snow sports participants.
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.
Jib is both a noun and a verb, depending on the usage of the word. As a noun: a jib includes metal rails, boxes, benches, concrete ledges, walls, vehicles, rocks and logs. As a verb: to jib is referring to the action of jumping, sliding or riding on top of objects other than snow. It is directly influenced by grinding a skateboard. Jibbing is a freestyle snowboarding technique of riding. Typically jibbing occurs in a snowboard resort park but can also be done in urban environments.
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.
To master freeriding is to seamlessly merge aspects of other snowboarding disciplines such as freestyle and alpine snowboarding into an all-around style - giving you the freedom to make the most of whatever terrain comes your way. Whereas freestyle snowboarding relies on the use of man-made terrain such as jumps, rails and half-pipes, and alpine snowboarding is done on groomed snow - the focus of freeriding is on utilising the random flow of natural terrain.
Freeride equipment generally comprises a stiffer boot/binding combination and a stiffer, directional snowboard. Since the freeride style may encounter many different types of snow conditions, such as ice and deep powder, a stiffer setup is recommended to maintain stability in deeper snow and at higher speeds.
In freestyle, the rider utilizes man-made installations such as rails, jumps, boxes, and innumerable other innovative features to perform tricks such as downed trees or boulders. 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 features to perform a number of aerial or jib tricks. 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 free-ride 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. 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. This trick is typically done for added style. 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.
Alpine Snowboarding 
Alpine Snowboarding consists of a small portion of the general snowboard population, that has a well connected social community and its own specific board manufacturers. Sometimes called freecarving, this takes place on hard packed snow or groomed runs and focuses on carving linked turns, much like surfing or longboarding. Little or no jumping takes place in this discipline. Alpine Snowboard equipment is a ski-like hardshell boot and plate binding system with a true directional snowboard that is stiffer and narrower to manage linking turns with greater forces and speed. Shaped skis can thank these "freecarve" snowboards for the cutting-edge technology leading to their creation. Highlights of alpine snowboarding includes a unique sensation felt through each carved turn. A skilled alpine snowboarder can link numerous turns into a run placing their body very close to the ground each turn, similar to a motogp turn or waterski carve. Depending on factors including stiffness, turning radius and personality this can be done slowly or fast. Carvers make perfect half-circles out of each turn, changing edges when the snowboard is perpendicular to the fall line and starting every turn on the downhill edge. Carving on a snowboard is like riding a roller coaster, because the board will lock into a turn radius and provide what feels like multiple Gs of acceleration.
Competitors perform tricks while descending a course, moving around, over, across, up, or down terrain features. The course is full of obstacles including boxes, rails, jumps, jibs (includes anything the board or rider can slide across). Slope-style contests consists of choosing your own line in a terrain park using a variety of boxes, jibs and jumps. To win a slope-style 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. Over all impression is also a huge factor in winning a slope-style contest. The rider who lands the hardest tricks will not always win over the rider who lands easy tricks but makes the run flow well.
Big air 
Big air competitions are contests where riders perform tricks after launching off a man made jump built specifically for the event. 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 back flip 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 23 feet (7.0 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" and "Snowboard 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.
Big mountain and freeride 
A big mountain contest is one that takes place in open terrain, and challenges riders to find their way down the mountain with the most style and difficulty. Big mountain events usually take place in powder snow conditions in closed off areas of resorts or in the backcountry. There are a number of big mountain events in Europe, the United States and in New Zealand and this aspect of snowboarding competition is quickly rising in popularity. Snowboarders consider Alaska the pinnacle of this style of riding, being featured in some of the most popular snowboarding videos and has given rise to one of the sport's most popular events, Tailgate Alaska, a yearly gathering of riders on Alaska's Thompson Pass.
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.
Snowboard Racing 
In Snowboarding Racing, riders must complete a downhill course constructed of a series of turning indicators (gates) placed in the snow at prescribed distances apart. A gate consists of a tall pole, and a short pole, connected by a triangular panel. The racer must pass around the short side of the gate. There are 3 main formats used in snowboard racing including; single person, parallel courses or multiple people on the course at same time (SBX).
Olympic Snowboard Racing Disciplines include Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) and Parallel Slalom (PSL). Additional Snowboard Race include; Giant Slalom, Slalom, Triple Slalom, Super G and Banked Slalom.
Parallel slalom, boarders race downhill through sets of gates that force extremely tight and quick turns requiring plenty of technical skill while racing against an opponent in the other course. Parallel Giant slalom uses a much longer course with gates set further apart resulting in even higher speeds, while racing against an opponent on a similar course place parallel to the other course. Super G is the fastest of all, with speeds of up to 45 mph (72 km/h).
The TTR world snowboard tour is the largest culmination of independent freestyle events acting under one common Tour Flag. Officially recognized as the World Snowboard Tour, 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. In 2012 ESPN's X-Games joined the World Snowboard Tour.
Tailgate Alaska is one of the sports most recognized and popular events. It is a backcounty gathering in Valdez, Alaska where riders challenge themselves in the worlds best mountains and snow conditions. It is a two week festival held every March–April. The legendary King of the Hill was also brought back by Tailgate Alaska founder Mark Sullivan and is considered the top freeriding event in the world.
Part of Snowboardings unique approach is to ensure maximum fun, friendship and event quality. Reflecting this perspective of snowboarding, you can find "Anti Contests" including are an important part of its identity including The Holy Oly Revival at The Summit at Snoqualmie, The Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic at Whitefish, the original anti-contst, 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 Håkonsen and Karleen Jeffery are the riders that have won the most in the race with six wins each.
The North Face Masters of Snowboarding brought a return to competitive big mountain snowboarding in 2008. This contest has included such notable competitors as Travis Rice, and Rob Kingwill with three stops throughout the western United States. The North Face Masters also has such luminaries as Tom Burt, Temple Cummins, and Andy Hetzel acting as judges for the event.
The United States of America Snowboarding Association (USASA) features three different divisions which include alpine, freestyle, and boardercross. Alpine consists of giant slalom and slalom which is a competition in which the agility and ability to make sharp turns of the snowboarders are tested. Freestyle consists of slopestyle and halfpipe. In boardercross, the idea is to be the first snowboarder down the mountain where everyone is racing each other through an obstacle course of harsh turns and wipeout potential is very likely. The USASA has 36 regional snowboard series in which anyone can compete.
The snowboarding way of life came about as a natural response to the culture from which it emerged. Early on, there was a rebellion against skiing culture and the view that snowboarders were inferior. 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.
The early stereotypes of snowboarding included "lazy", "grungy", "punk", "stoners", "troublemakers", and numerous others, many of which are associated with skateboarding and surfing as well. However, these stereotypes may be considered "out of style". Snowboarding has become a sport that encompasses a very diverse international based crowd and fanbase of many millions, so much so that it is no longer possible 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".
Countries with strong snowboarding subcultures and many local riders include Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the US, snowboarding culture thrives in the communities of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, parts of New England, Colorado, Utah, California. In Canada, snowboarding is popular in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and New Brunswick.
Safety and precautions 
Like some other winter sports, snowboarding comes with a certain level of risk.
The injury rate for snowboarding is about four to six per thousand persons per day, this is around double the injury rate for alpine skiing. Injuries are more likely amongst beginners, especially those who do not take lessons with professional instructors. A quarter of all injuries occur to first-time riders and half of all injuries occur to those with less than a year of experience. Experienced riders are less likely to suffer injury, but the injuries that do occur tend to be more severe.
Two thirds of injuries occur to the upper body and one third to the lower body. This contrasts with alpine skiing where two thirds of injuries are to the lower body. The most common point of injury is the wrists – 40% of all snowboard injuries are to the wrists and 24% of all snowboard injuries are wrist fractures. There are around 100,000 wrist fractures worldwide among snowboarders each year. For this reason the use of wrist guards, either separate or built into gloves, is very strongly recommended. They are often compulsory in beginner's classes and their use reduces the likelihood of wrist injury by half. In addition it is important for snow boarders to learn how to fall without stopping the fall with their hand by trying to "push" the slope away, as landing a wrist which is bent at a 90 degree angle increase the chance of it breaking. Rather, landing with the arms scratched out (like a wing) and slapping the slope with the entire arm is an effective way to break a fall. This is the method used by practitioners of Judo and other martial arts to break a fall when they are thrown against the floor, by a training partner.
The risk of head injury is two to six times greater for snowboarders than for skiers and injuries follow the pattern of being rarer, but more severe, with experienced riders. Head injuries can occur both as a consequence of a collision and when failing to carry out a heel-side turn. The latter can result in the rider landing on his or her back and slamming the back of his or her head onto the ground, resulting in an occipital head injury. For this reason, helmets are widely recommended. Protective eye-wear is also recommended as eye injury can be caused by impact and snow blindness can be a result of exposure to strong ultra-violet light in snow-covered areas. The wearing of ultra-violet-absorbing goggles is recommended even on hazy or cloudy days as ultra-violet light can penetrate clouds.
Unlike ski bindings, snowboard bindings are not designed to release automatically in a fall. The mechanical support provided by the feet being locked to the board has the effect of reducing the likelihood of knee injury – 15% of snowboard injuries are to the knee, compared with 45% of all skiing injuries. Such injuries are typically to the knee ligaments, bone fractures are rare. Fractures to the lower leg are also rare but 20% of injuries are to the foot and ankle. Fractures of the talus bone are rare in other sports but account for 2% of snowboard injuries – a lateral process talus fracture is sometimes called "snowboarder's ankle" by medical staff. This particular injury results in persistent lateral pain in the affected ankle yet is difficult to spot in a plain X-ray image. It may be misdiagnosed as just a sprain, with possibly serious consequences as not treating the fracture can result in serious long-term damage to the ankle. The use of portable ultrasound for mountainside diagnostics has been reviewed and appears to be a plausible tool for diagnosing some of the common injuries associated with the sport.
Four to eight percent of snowboarding injuries take place while the person is waiting in ski-lift lines or entering and exiting ski lifts. Snowboarders push themselves forward with a free foot while in the ski-lift line, leaving the other foot (usually that of the lead leg) locked on the board at a 9–27 degree angle, placing a large torque force on this leg and predisposing the person to knee injury if a fall occurs. Snowboard binding rotating devices are designed to minimize the torque force, Quick Stance being the first developed in 1995. They allow snowboarders to turn the locked foot straight into the direction of the tip of the snowboard without removing the boot from the boot binding.
Avalanches are a clear danger when on snowy mountain slopes. 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.
Snowboarding boots should be well-fitted, with toes snug in the end of the boot to minimize movement. 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. 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.
Some care is also required when waxing a board as fluorocarbon waxes emit toxic fumes when overheated. Waxing is best performed in a ventilated area with care being taken to use the wax at the correct temperature – the wax should be melted but not smoking or smoldering.
In a study conducted to examine the types of snowboarding injuries and changes in injury patterns over time, data was collected on injured snowboarders and skiers in a base-lodge clinic of a ski resort in Vermont over 18 seasons (1988–2006) and included extensive information about injury patterns, demographics, and experience. In conclusion of the study, the highest rate of injury was among young, inexperienced, female snowboarders. Injury rates in snowboarders have fluctuated over time but still remain higher than skiers. No evidence was found that those who spend more time in terrain parks are over represented in the injury population.
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.
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), Whitelines (UK), Pleasure (Germany), Method (Europe), Onboard (Europe), Whiteroom Magazine (BG), Snowboard Canada (Canada), NZ Snowboarder, (New Zealand) and Snowboard Colorado, (USA).
Video games 
Snowboarding video games provide interactive entertainment on and off season. Most games for this genre have been made for consoles, such as the Xbox and PlayStation. A plethora of online casual snowboarding games also exist. More recently games in this genre have been made for mobile devices.
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