Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a snow-covered slope on a snowboard attached to a participant's feet using a special boot set into a mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by surfing and skateboarding, and the sport shares superficial similarities with skiing. It was developed in the United States in the 1960s and the 1970s and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998.
The first modern snowboard was arguably the Snurfer (a portmanteau of snow and surfer), originally designed by Sherman Poppen for his children in 1965 in Muskegon, Michigan. 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.
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) and Mike Olson (GNU Snowboards) came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that had slowly developed into the snowboards and other related equipment that we know today.
Dimitrije Milovich, an east coast surfer, had the idea of sliding on cafeteria trays. From this he started developing his snowboard designs. In 1972, 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.
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 whilst 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 Ski Lodge 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 birth of what has now become competitive snowboarding.
In 1982 the first National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont at Suicide Six.
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 Association (ISA) was founded in 1994 to provide universal contest regulations. 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. The sport has also had an impact in countries that are largely without snow, such as Australia.
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. Early snowboards were difficult to control and were banned from the slopes by park officials. 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.
On March 18,2008 Taos Ski area officially welcomed the first snowboarders to their resort, after years of exclusion. Founder of Bonfire Snowboarding, Brad Steward, joined Transworld Snowboarding Editor in Chief Kurt Hoy, Java Fernandez, Ryan Thompson, Josh Sherman and a local advocate for the first legal turns.
Twenty percent of all visitors to U.S. ski resorts are snowboarders, and more than 3.5 million people had taken up snowboarding worldwide.
The peak year for snowboarding was 2004 with 6.6 million participants.
By 2008, this number had dropped to 5.1 million snowboarders because of the weather. An industry spokeman said that "twelve year-olds are outriding adults." The same article said that most snowboarders are 18-24 years old. Females constitute 25% of participants.
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, from ice to deep powder, freeride snowboards are usually longer and have a stiffer overall flex.
The equipment used in freestyle is usually a soft boot with a twin tipped board, 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. -9°/+12°. Freestyle riders who specialize in jibbing often use boards that are shorter than usual, with additional flex and filed down edges. A shorter length enables the board to be rotated faster and requires less energy on the rider's part.
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. Some riders enjoy jibbing, which involves grinding a rail, a box, or even a tree trunk, or simply boarding on anything that is not snow.
The recommended protective safety gear includes wrist guards (as snowboarders often land on their hands and knees. Knee Ligament Injuries are number one in the list of Snowboarding and Skiing Injuries. Get familiar with Medial Collateral Ligament Sprain (MCL Sprain) and , resulting in wrist breakage), padded/protected snowboard 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. 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), and quarter pipes (a half side of a half pipe, although usually not as long or high).
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.
The half-pipe is a semi-circular ditch or purpose built ramp (that is usually on a downward slope), between 12 and deep. Competitors perform tricks while going from one side to the other and while in the air above the sides of the pipe.
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; prizes are typically awarded for best overall male and female, and best trick male and female.
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 .
Some of the biggest snowboarding contests include: the Air & Style, U.S. Open, The Oakley Arctic Challenge, Shakedown, the West Coast Invitational, Vans Cup, X Games, The Honda Session in Vail, CO and the Chevrolet U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, Chevrolet Revolution Tour and Race to the Cup series.
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 sixth year, the TTR has a 10-month competition season including snowboarding events over four geographical zones. The Tour includes events like the TTR SIX(6)STAR Air & Style, The Arctic Challenge and the US Open of Snowboarding.
One of the more unique and legendary contests is the Mt. Baker banked slalom. It has been won by some of the biggest names in the history of our sport. Craig Kelly and Terje are arguably the two best.
The 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 soon be considered "out of style". Snowboarding has become a sport that encompasses a very diverse crowd and fanbase, so much so that it's hard to stereotype the entire community. Reasons for these dying stereotypes include how mainstream it 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".
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.
Snowboarding has also been featured in the more recent film, First Descent (2005). This movie features snowboarders Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Shawn Farmer, Nick Perata and Terje Haakonsen. First Descent documents these snowboarders heliboarding into remote locations and doing big mountain riding. This film is also a documentary on the history of snowboarding, giving the history on the first snowboarders up to those of the present day.
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, such as SnowSphere Magazine. See also Transworld Snowboarding Magazine.