Saturday, November 19, 2005


Snowboarding The Great White
by Ashley Barnard

Snowboarding has great similarities to surfing and skiing: It’s like surfing in that it is a board sport, and like skiing because it is performed in the snow. Snowboarders – or riders, as they are called – strap boards to their feet and slide down snow-covered slopes. It is an increasingly popular winter sport across the world, wherever there is snow. In 1998, it became an eligible medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games. Other major events include the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship and the Winter X-Games in Canada and the United States.

No one knows exactly when snowboarding was invented, but it is widely accepted that it was created around the 1950s by a mix of surfers, skateboarders, and skiers – who were able to transfer their skills to the cold mountains. Snowboarders during that time used hand-made boards. Because snowboarding was new and crude at that time, many skiers largely frowned upon the sport. In fact, many ski resorts would not allow snowboarding.

However, the sport began to gain more popularity in the 1970s and ‘80s, and snowboarding equipment became more sophisticated and advanced. By 1997, almost all of the ski resorts in the United States allowed snowboarding. Today, the sport is attracting an ever-growing fan base (more than 3.4 million people), so much so that the number of skiers has actually declined. Some people attribute this to the comparative ease of snowboarding.

Today, standard snowboarding equipment includes snowboards, boots, bindings, and warm clothing. The sport has three main sub-styles: freestyle, freeride, and freecarve, with each style distinguishable by the equipment used and the desired terrain.

Freestyle riding is currently the most popular style among snowboarders. It is characterized by a lot of jumps, tricks, rail slides, and switch riding. Freestyle equipment includes soft boots and relatively short mobile boards, which are ideal for the frequent jumps in this style of riding.

Freeride, the most general style of snowboarding, is performed on most mountain terrains including open terrain and backcountry chutes. As with freestyle snowboarding, freeriders wear soft boots; however, the actual snowboard is a little longer and directional than the one used in freestyle snowboarding.

Freecarve – also known as alpine snowboarding – focuses on carving and racing. Freecarving is performed on hard-pack or groomed runs. In this style, there is little or no jumping. Equipment includes hard boots and plate binding system; and the boards are stiff, narrow, and long.

Within each of these sub-styles are more variations, including sandboarding, heli boarding, kite snowboarding, and mountain boarding.

For more information on snowboarding and skiing you can visit the site at

Ashley Barnard is a great outdoor explorer and apart from climbing mountains around the world he also enjoys snowboarding and skiing for a brief insoght into snowboarding and where it came from you can visit his site at