Snowboarding is a boardsport on snow similar to skiing, but inspired by surfing and skateboarding. Snowboarding is an increasingly popular winter sport throughout the world.
A snowboarder's equipment consists of a snowboard, snowboarding boots, bindings to attach their boots to the board, as well as snowboarding-specific winter clothing. Snowboarding became a Winter Olympic Games sport in 1998. Other events that focus on snowboarding are the annual European and U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships and the Winter X-Games. These events are hosted by various winter resorts in Europe, United States, and Canada.
The snowboard evolved from early pioneering work by people such as Sherman Poppen(who, in 1965, invented the "Snurfer" in his North Muskegon, Michigan home), Chuck Barfoot, Dimitri Mitrovitch, Tom Sims, and Jake Burton Carpenter. Jake is the founder of Burton Snowboards, one of the largest, and most well-established snowboard companies in the world. In the early 1980s, snowboard companies such as Sims, Winterstick, and Avalanche began emerging across the country. Also in the early 1980s, films by Warren Miller and Greg Stump began to feature clips of snowboarders, boosting the popularity of the sport among the skiing community. It was not until the mid-1980s that snowboarding exploded into the mainstream, when the first snowboard magazine, Absolutely Radical, hit the racks; it was soon renamed International Snowboard Magazine. For more on the history of snowboarding, see this Snowboard History Timeline.
== Disciplines ==
Ryan McDonald competes in the 2005 Continental Cup Snowboarder in France mastering mixed style.There are four primary sub-disciplines or sub-styles within snowboarding with each favoring a slightly different snowboard design.
== Freeride == Freeriding is using the natural terrain of the mountain for recreation, without focusing on technical tricks or racing. Most snowboarders aspire to be freeriders and will explore the mountain through trees, in powder bowls or anywhere else they feel comfortable riding. Freeriding is also known as all-mountain snowboarding. A variant of freeriding focusing on extremely difficult lines is known as extreme snowboarding or big mountain snowboarding.
Freeride snowboarding, where the focus is on riding cleanly and enjoying the freedom to go and explore anywhere is influenced significantly by surfing. Many freeride purists attach an almost spiritual connotation to carving down the mountain. The Freeriding is mostly for periods of relaxation, due to the relative "calmness" one feels going down a slope at one's own speed.
Freestyle snowboarding is the practice of doing different kinds of tricks on a snowboard, hence the name freestyle. Tricks can either occur on the ground (e.g. jibbing, bonking, grinding, pressing, buttering etc.) or in the air (e.g. spins, flips, grabs). Freestyle snowboarders typically use shorter boards and softer boots than other snowboarders, as the shorter board length reduces the weight and moment of inertia, making it easier to spin and maneuver, and the softer boots make the board more forgiving to control for the particular demands of freestyle riding, such as slower speeds, high landing impacts, quick turns, and imperfect landings. Softer boards allow the snowboarder to press, or butter, with ease, but many freestyle snowboarders, especially halfpipe riders, use stiff boards that have a lot of "pop" to allow them to jump higher and absorb hard landings.
Most freestyle boards are directional, in that the tip is typically softer than the tail, and with the bindings and center of the sidecut located slightly aft of center. As on a freeride board, this can make turn initiation more forgiving and help float the tip in powder and variable snow. Some freestyle snowboards are true twins, with the sidecut radius being equal on both rails of the board and the stance centered on the board. Riding a twin-tip board makes it easier to land switch and compensate for changing riding conditions. Softer boots and boards also allow riders more flexibility in body movement and the ability to reach very convoluted or stretched out, stylish body positions (known as tweaks).
Freestyle snowboarders often 'detune' or dull the edges of their snowboards so as not to catch them on rails or boxes when jibbing. One exception being in the half-pipe, where edge hold can be critical.
Freestyle snowboarding is arguably the most popular discipline, and is certainly the focus of most of the lifestyle marketing in the snowboarding industry. Freestyle is probably most demanded because of the thrill. Freestyle snowboarding can be done almost anywhere that has snow.
Freestyle snowboarding is influenced greatly by skateboarding. Many ski resorts operate terrain parks which often simulate the urban skateboard environment, complete with halfpipes, handrails, boxes, and machine-formed jumps.
Main article: Alpine snowboarding Alpine snowboarding is the practice of turning by carving the snowboard (such that the board turns by using the radius sidecut of the edge), as opposed to skidding the snowboard (where the board is traveling in a different direction than it is pointing). Both traditional snowboard racers (though not necessarily boardercross racers) and recreational carvers are alpine snowboarders.
Alpine riders use hard plastic snowboarding boots, which resemble ski boots, except that they tend to be less stiff in the ankles and have a shortened heel, to minimize hanging over the edge of the snowboard. They tend to angle their feet much more forward than other snowboarders, and also ride narrower boards. Alpine boards are usually, but not always, longer and much stiffer than freeride boards, as the particular demands of carving usually require as much usable edge length as possible. The hard plastic boots stiffens the ankle joint up significantly, making it more difficult to make small ankle adjustments while making skid turns, but making the board much more stable and powerful at higher speeds and the much higher g-forces typically felt by an alpine snowboarder in carved turns.
An analogy made by some alpine enthusiasts is that freeride and freestyle snowboards are like dirt bikes, and alpine/carving snowboards are like road bikes. (Hence riding a freestyle snowboard on groomed slopes is like riding a dirtbike on a road track or what is called SuperMoto.)
Powder is a term for snow that is very light and fluffy. Powder is known as being the most fun and challenging condition for skiing and snowboarding, solely because it is so soft. If powder snow sits undisturbed for too long it may become compacted and hard, sometimes icy. This is considered more difficult terrain to negotiate. Generally colder climates sport the lightest, driest powder, or "cold smoke", and countries like Switzerland are becoming known as powder havens.
In places where almost all of the runs are groomed, and powder is a rare find, you must venture into the tree trails. Powder makes for much smoother turns and smoother riding. Powder also makes for softer landings and reduced chances of injury compared to man made terrain parks, though landing in deep snow can take some practice. Powder is best to ride when it is fresh, before other riders "track it out" and make ruts in the smooth surface. The powder snow will hold consistency if the temperature stays as cold or colder than when the snow fell, however when the sun melts it the so called "slush" is formed. This is exceptionally frustrating since it slows the board down rapidly, and if it is hit at high speed, a fall usually occurs. Other risks with skiing or snowboarding in powder include avalanches, injuries when falling on hidden obstacles such as rocks or tree stumps snowed over, loss of equipment, and the difficulty of getting oneself out of deep powder snow after a fall.
Snowboarding in deep powder snow doesn't actually require a sharply tuned edge at all as there is nothing to 'grip' in the lightly compacted snow. However, it is preferred to have a tuned effective edge in case the terrain suddenly changes and grip is required.
== Backcountry ==
This type of boarding started out with fresh powder-craving snowboarders who, most likely, didn't have the cash to spend at crowded upscale ski parks. In fact, before snowboarding was allowed at resorts, this was the only form of snowboarding; Jake Burton, one of the original pioneers of snowboarding, never even considered resorts; backcountry was what he envisioned as the future of snowboarding. Today, backcountry snowboarding is often for those who have enough cash to afford trips to Alaska or the mountain ranges of the West, to ride outside resorts. Donning snowshoes or a split-board with skins, the backcountry snowboarder cuts a new path up the side of the mountain in search of the very best vistas and untouched snow. Some of those more cash-endowed riders can even hire snowcats or helicopters to take them where they want to go; this is known as catboarding or heliboarding respectively.
A split-board is a snowboard cut in half along its length. When apart, the two halves can be used like cross-country skis to ascend a hill. When the snowboarder is ready to descend, the halves are mechanically secured together, and the bindings are repositioned for a snowboarding stance. Without a split-board, snowboarders who want to experience backcountry terrain, bear a little extra burden by carrying their snowboards with a backpack and using snowshoes or cross country skis to ascend.
Snowboarders also use snowmobiles to ride in the backcountry. If the hill is too steep a snowmobile may not make it up the hill. Often snowboarders use snowmobiles to make jumps into the powder.
Safety is key when hiking and riding in the backcountry, especially after a fresh 'dump' of powder. Snow can be extremely unstable, often leading to avalanches. Backcountry riders are advised to take extreme caution in all conditions, to carry avalanche equipment including a probe, beacon, and shovel, and never to ride alone in the backcountry. Avalanche equipment can be purchased or rented at outdoor equipment stores. Courses in avalanche safety are also available.
The various components of a snowboard are:
a core: the bulk of a snowboard, the core is the interior of the snowboard. It is typically comprised of a solid material, normally either wood, foam, or some composite plastic. The properties of the core directly affect important characteristics of the board, such as flexibility and weight. a base: this is the bottom of the board which is made of a graphitic material that is saturated with a wax that creates a very quick smooth, hydrophobic surface. Because the base of the board comprises the bulk of the board's interaction with the snow, it is important that it be as slippery with respect to the snow as possible. For this reason, different base waxes are available for different snow conditions. If the board is damaged, a new base pattern can be stone-ground into the board. If the base becomes significantly damaged, the board may become sluggish, or if the damage is deep enough, it may even weaken the core. an edge: a strip of metal, tuned normally to just less than 90-degrees, that runs the length of either side of the board. This sharp edge is necessary to be able to produce enough friction to ride on ice, and the radius of the edge directly affects the radius of carving turns, and in turn the responsiveness of the board. Kinking, rusting, or general dulling of the edge will significantly hinder the ability for the edge to grip the snow, so it is important that this feature is maintained. However, many riders who spend a fair amount of their time jibbing park rails, and especially handrails, will actually use a detuning stone or another method to intentionally dull their edges, either entirely or only in certain areas. This helps to avoid "catching" on any tiny burrs or other obstructions that may exist or be formed on rails, boxes, and other types of jibs. Catching on a rail can, more than likely, result in a potentially serious crash, particularly should it occur on a handrail or more advanced rail set-up. In addition, it's relatively common for freestyle riders to "detune" the edges around the board's contact points. This practice can help to reduce the chances of the rider catching an edge in a choppy or rutted-out jump landing or similar situation.
It is important to keep in mind that drastic edge detuning can be near-impossible to fully reverse and will significantly impede board control & the ability to hold an edge in harder-packed snow. One area where this can be quite detrimental is in a half-pipe, where well-sharpened edges are often crucially important for cutting through the hard, sometimes icy walls.
a laminate: two layers or more of fiberglass that add torsional snap and response as well as protect the wood core from damage. Often, it may be strengthened with carbon fiber or Kevlar stringers. For a more detailed description, see Board construction.
The bindings that attach the snowboard to the rider's feet are securely fastened to the board with bolts that screw into its threaded metal inserts. Most snowboard manufacturers use a mounting system consisting of four bolts arranged in a square or rectangular pattern. Some companies take other approaches. The most notable example is Burton, which has long employed its signature three-bolt system and, more recently, has introduced a two-bolt system on its Un-Inc series of snowboards.
There are two main types of snowboard bindings: conventional & step-in.
Conventional, or strap-in, bindings are the most common type and are preferred by most advanced riders. Strap-ins, as the name suggests, lock the rider's feet into place with straps the tighten down over the boots. Typically, there are two straps, a heelstrap and a toestrap, however, some other variations do exist. Strap-in bindings usually have a high-back made of plastic or other material which rests against the rider's ankle & calf for enhanced leverage and responsiveness. Step-in binding systems allow for added convenience, quickly locking onto some sort of metal connector on the bottom of the rider's boot when he/she steps into the binding and releasing when a lever is lifted. Step-ins may or may not have high-backs, but most do not. They are quite popular amongst beginning snowboarders for their convenience. Because they are generally less responsive and tend not to hold the foot in place as securely, step-ins are rather unpopular with experienced riders.
Snowboard instruction is available at almost every ski resort from certified snowboard instructors. Professional instruction is a good way to learn proper technique, safety policies, mountain etiquette and resort rules. Beginning snowboarders, whether young or old, should consider taking a series of lessons. It will not only get you on the slopes more quickly, but will help you feel more confident in sharing that mountain with the other members of the snowboarding/ski community.
Snowboard lessons, as with ski lessons, can either be group or private lessons. Group lessons are often cheaper, but often have a high student-teacher ratio, resulting in less individual attention. Private lessons can be taught one-on-one or between a small group. Private lessons are often far more expensive than group, as it is the snowboarding analogue of being privately tutored. The rapport developed between an instructor and a student who returns for multiple lessons is the real benefit derived from private lessons; one is taught better by a teacher who knows them, and a student is more likely to heed the advice of someone they trust.
Typically, beginner snowboard lessons focus on very basic, common snowboarding skills. The first lesson often begins with basic safety policies, stretching, and learning to fall, then progresses to snowboarding with one foot on the board (particularly skating and J-turns). Then students learn how to turn and stop with both feet in. Other important beginner skills to learn are the falling leaf technique, side-slipping, and lift procedures. More advanced techniques that are taught in later lessons are linking turns, edge control, weight distribution, edge pressure, and eventually carving. As students progress in ability they can seek out specialized instruction in areas such as riding steeper slopes and through a wider variety of snow conditions, terrain park skills (jumps, rails, and pipes), mogul technique, off-piste riding, powder riding, and racing.
The exact lesson format will be different at each resort but you can expect to learn the following skills:
Skating or Scooting - Put your front foot into the bindings and push yourself along with the back foot. Keep your weight on the snowboard and allow it to glide. Learns what it feels like to have a big piece of wood strapped to your foot. Important skill for later when you start using lifts.
Straight Running - On a very gentle slope strap in both feet and slowly glide down the slope. The goal here is to learn the basic stance which is used for all advanced techniques. You should watch where you are going, hands slightly away from your body, knees bent, upper body facing same direction as front foot, weight distributed evenly and stay relaxed. Try bending down and standing up while gliding.
Standing up on the slope, heelside - Make sure the board is across the slope, you should be sitting facing down the slope with the heelside of the board in the snow. Put one hand on the snow close to your body to push off from, put your other hand out over the board and roll forwards to stand up. Make sure not to overextend and keep the heelside of the board dug in to prevent slipping.
Side slipping, heelside - Stand up facing down the slope with the board across the slope and the heelside of the board firmly dug into the snow. Slowly push down on your toes to flatten the board to the snow and get it moving down the fall line. Smoothly roll back onto your heels to slow the board or onto your toes to speed the board up. Relax and stay smooth!
Side slipping, toeside - Stand up facing up the slope with the board across the slope and the toeside of the board firmly dug into the snow. Slowly push down on your heels to flatten the board to the snow and get it moving down the fall line. Smoothly roll back onto your toes to slow the board or onto your heels to speed the board up. Relax and stay smooth!
Falling leaf, heelside - Start doing a normal heelside descent and then put pressure on the toes of one foot to cause that end of the snowboard to turn down the slope, let the board run a little and then roll the same foot back onto the heel to stop the slide. Try the other foot. Alternate feet crossing back and forth the slope in a falling leaf pattern.
Falling leaf, toeside - Start doing a normal toeside descent and then put pressure on the heel of one foot to cause that end of the snowboard to turn down the slope, let the board run a little and then roll the same foot back onto the toes to stop the slide. Try the other foot. Alternate feet crossing back and forth the slope in a falling leaf pattern.
Garland, heelside - Same as falling leaf heelside, press down on the toes of one foot to turn the board but this time allow the board to turn until it is pointing directly down the slope before rolling back on the heel of the same foot to flatten out. Also known as J-turns.
Garland, toeside - Same as falling leaf toeside, press down on the heel of one foot to turn the board but this time allow the board to turn until it is pointing directly down the slope before rolling back on the toes of the same foot to flatten out. Also known as J-turns.
Linked turns - Same as the garland but instead of recovering and turning back keep the turn going right around. Start out heelside - end up toeside. Start from both heelside and toeside.
Leg turning - On heelside turns turn the front leg into the slope to turn better and on the toeside rotate the front leg away from the slope.
Flat-Basing - This is where the board is flat on the snow. Whilst flat-basing it is possible to 'catch an edge' which will usually put the rider off balance. The primary cause of this is attempting to flat-base where flat-basing is not suitable e.g. a transitioned piste. It is the fastest position snowboarder can assume as there are no forces actually against the snow (as with carving) just a little friction on the bottom of the board.
Carving - Aggressively pitch the board hard over onto its edge to carve, keep transitions short and as you pick up speed start your transitions earlier and earlier. In carving the board is always either on one edge or the other and carves a track in the snow.
Powder - Snowboards were designed for this, powder is easier on a snowboard than on skis but keep your speed up, keep the nose of the board up by putting more weight on the back foot than normal and don't edge over too hard.
Freestyle snowboarding owes much of its form and content to skateboarding, and many of the maneuvers common to snowboarding exist in skateboarding as well. Though the last decade has seen the trend reverse, with tricks unique to snowboarding cropping up in skating (witness the adaptation of the rodeo in skateboarding by Shaun White), the great majority of terminology is still borrowed from skateboarding.
Ollie: The fundamental freestyle maneuver is the ollie; a good ollie is absolutely essential for any trick. The ollie is not a hop, as is commonly thought, but a technique which amplifies the power of the legs by exploiting the natural flex of the snowboard. A snowboard is essentially a flat, wooden spring with edges and a low friction base material; the wood core has elastic properties and can store and release energy which can be used in a variety of ways. Ollieing is one of them. To ollie, one must pressure the tail of the snowboard while lifting the nose upward and then jump. Executing an ollie properly requires timing and coordination and though it sounds (and looks) simple, it is actually a complex series of motions that takes years to perfect. The ollie was developed and named after Allan "Ollie" Gelfland, a skateboarder who first adapted the ollie to vert and bowl skating in the late 70's early 80's. Frontside vs Backside: This distinction is essential to understanding freestyle snowboarding and is borrowed from surfing, which uses it to distinguish different types of waves. Because a snowboarder stands sideways on the board, turns and movements are asymmetrical; a turn on the heels looks different and requires different movements than a turn on the toes. The frontside/backside dichotomy is useful for understanding terrain and tricks, though it can be confusing. The simplest explanation is that frontside involves turning to face down the hill, while backside involves facing up the hill; therefore a frontside turn is done on the heels, while a backside turn is done on the toes. All rotations are either backside or frontside, as well; if one jumps and turns looking downhill, the spin is frontside, but jumping and turning one's back to the fall line is a backside spin. When applied to terrain however, the frontside/backside distinction is different; a halfpipe for instance, has frontside and backside walls. If one were to straight run down the middle of the halfpipe, the rationale would be apparent; the rider faces the frontside wall, and approaches on the toes, while backside wall is behind them and is approached on the heels. This applies to rails and boxes as well; the method of approach determines the name of the trick, not the direction of rotation. A boardslide, executed facing up hill, is actually a frontside boardslide, because the obstacle is approached from the frontside. Fakie: This term refers to riding a snowboard in the opposite direction, and is borrowed from skateboarding. If a regular footer (left foot forward) puts their right foot forward to ride goofy, but retains the same stance and foot position, they are riding fakie. When riding fakie, a great number of manouvers can be executed in the same way as one's natural stance; an ollie for instance, can be done with the exact same movements, but the direction will be reversed, with the back foot lifting and the front foot pushing down. Switch: Also adapted from skateboarding (which in turn adapted it from baseball), switchstance is the act of riding one's unnatural stance; switch for a regular footer is goofy, while for a goofy footer it is regular. Switchstance is roughly equivalent to signing one's name with the wrong hand, and requires learning each movement and manouver in its mirror image. In skateboarding, switchstance requires both switching the front foot and shifting the whole stance towards the tail of the board; accordingly, switch stance as applied to snowboarding is most often a misnomer. Regardless of which foot is forward, the bindings on one's snowboard are fixed, and thus the stance cannot be switched except with a screwdriver, and this is not easily done while one's feet are in one's bindings. Unless one rides a perfectly centered stance with equal amounts of angle on both bindings, switch is not really possible. Grabs: Grabbing the edge of the board while in mid-air. The six basic grabs are the mute (front hand, toe edge), indy (back hand, toe edge), stalefish (back hand, heel edge), melon (front hand, heel edge) nose and tail grab. Each grab has virtually endless permutations depending on exactly where one places one's hand on the edge and what one does with ones legs (known as "boning" or "poking") while in the air. For instance, an indy grabbed between the back foot and the tail is known as a "tindy" (tail+indy) (and is seriously lame), while an indy grabbed close to the front foot with the board shifted backside is known as a crail. Likewise, a mute grab with the front knee tucked and back leg poked is a Japan air, and a melon pulled back and shifted is a method. In addition to the six basic grabs and their variations are a whole host of different grabs that are too numerous to detail exhaustively. -rocket airs-both hands on the nose, pulling up hard.
-truck driver-back hand heel edge, front hand toe edge, both hands between the bindings.
-seatbelt-front hand on the tail or back hand on the nose.
-roast beef-back hand, heel edge, between the bindings.
-chicken salad-front hand toe edge, between the legs.
Rotation: rotation occurs when the board and body turn in relation to the fall line. The smallest possible rotation is a shifty, and while theoretically limitless, a 1260 (three and a half rotations) is a the largest spin currently practicable at the highest level of snowboarding. Rotations must be in multiples of 180 degrees; less or more most often involves falling. 360s, 720s and 1080s involve taking off and landing with the same foot forward, while 180s and 540s and 900s involve a change from either goofy to regular or vice versa.
Although many snowboarders do not wear any protective gear, helmets and some other devices are gaining in popularity. Wearing protective gear is highly recommended and is very serious because people have died from snowboarding accidents. The body parts most affected by injuries are the wrists, the tailbone, and the head. Useful safety gear includes wrist guards, padded or protected snowboard pants and a helmet. Goggles are also used by most people, even though they are not a necessity (debatable snow blindness does happen). Padding can be useful on other body parts like hips, knees, spine, shoulders, and in the obvious places based on gender. Padding can be specialized for snowboarding, or it can cross sports. For example, knee pads used for volleyball can be useful for snowboarding. They can be useful for the many times that a snowboard rider may wish to rest on the knees, such as after coming to a stop. General safety tips for winter sports, alpine conditions and skiing should also be respected.
Mountain maintenance is a very important aspect of safety. In places where the mountains are steep and the snow is deep, avalanches are extremely common. In order to keep these parts of the mountain safe, Ski Patrol will set off dynamite to control the avalanche. The idea behind this is that the chances of someone being caught in a large avalanche is less likely. This maintenance is done on a day to day basis.
Videos and movies
Snowboard videos have become a huge part of the sport. Each season, many different snowboard films are released, usually in September. Production companies work all year developing these videos.
Videos have evolved to become the backbone of the sport. Many companies rely heavily on their professional riders to help in promoting their product in these videos. These videos began as a way to show what can be done on a snowboard and have now become a major marketing tool in the industry. One example would be The White Album, a snowboarding film from Shaun White, that includes cameos by Tony Hawk and was sponsored by PlaySation, Mountain Dew and Burton Snowboards, just to name a few.
Snowboarding has also been the focus of numerous Hollywood feature films, quite notably the 2001 movie Out Cold, which included appearances by several renowned professional snowboarders as stunt performers, actual characters, or both. Out Cold is one of few major motion pictures to show snowboarding rather realistically and to exhibit a real understanding of the sport, as well as the culture that surrounds it.
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