From the early days there has been a competitive element encompassing racing and freestyle. Competitions have been organised in USA since 1993 and in the UK since 1997.
Tracing its roots to the 1970's hotdoggers, skateboard culture has dominated every season since summer ended. Mountainboarding only expands on the possible terrain a boarder can dominate. And the sport is growing strong with every passing season. It is currently boasting participation by over 1 million athletes worldwide (Wall Street Journal, April 16th 1998).
MBS Mountainboards is widely considered the pioneer of mountainboarding and the industry leader. In 1991 while snowboarding at Heavenly Valley Resort in Northern California friends and MBS co-founders Jason lee and Patrick McConnell decided it would be a fun idea to make something for snowboarders to use in the off-season to keep in shape and practice their moves. Almost 18 years later MBS Mountainboards is still going strong selling boards into over 30 countries around the world. Many of mountainboarding's key innovations were developed by MBS such as the original Open Heel Binding, the "Eggshock" and compression spring suspension combination and the original reverse V Brake system making mountainboarding safer to learn.
The US boasts some of mountainboarding's top riders such as Leon Robbins, Jereme Leafe, Akoni Kama, Kody Stewart and Jason Lee (7 time National boardercross race champ). Lee also holds the unofficial long distance jump record of 54' 3" set in the UK.
The first UK Mountainboard manufacturer was NoSno which was started in 1992 by brothers Pete and Dave Tatham.
A mountain board is similar to a longboard, sporting improved shocks and inflatable tires. Both of these improvements lend to improved shock absorption due to the heavy stress a rider undergoes while riding over extremely harsh terrain. The size of the deck on a boarder's rig average's somewhat smaller than a snowboard, approximately 110 cm in length. The four wheels of a mountainboard consist of small plastic or metal hubs with pneumatic tires of between 7" and 13" diameter. There are also three-wheeled variations such as the "Outback", as well as the two-wheeled "Dirtsurfer" and "Surfari" inline boards. The latter can be described best as, "riding a bike with no hands... the faster you go, the more stable you are." Dirtsurfers and Surfaris use 20" spoked BMX wheels and are excellent for high-speed decents.
Board length is important to take into consideration when in the buying process. The length of the board determines many factors such as terrain one is able to ride, weight of the board (extremely important for kite landboarding), and how much weight the board can support. Most mountain boards are equipped with 'channel trucks' which are similar in appearance to a skateboard truck but are spring-loaded to stiffen up turning. Urethane "Egg Shocks" can be inserted inside the spring coil to both stiffen the "feel" of a board and also to prolong the life of the suspension system. Truck brands include Matrix, Bionic, Revo, noSno and Howla.
Regular skate style trucks can also be found on a mountainboard, although these boards are typically used by junior riders because they are lightweight and inexpensive.
Turning systems such as noSno's use rubber bushes and are used for more downhill riding as they are generally considered more stable at greater speeds and on rougher terrain.
Freeride is done on a variety of terrain, from ski resorts, when the snow has melted away, to downhill mountain bike courses, to woodlands and forests. More and more dedicated centres are being opened around the world specifically for the sport of mountain boarding. Racing tends to be either of slalom, two riders weaving between poles, boarder cross, a category of racing that is similar to BMX courses, with berms and jumps or timed one man downhill (as used in the World Downhill Championships).
Freestyle riding consists of ramp jumping; performing tricks which can be rotations (180, 360 and more degree turns), inverted tricks (back flips, front flips), board grabs (tail grab and nose grab) and one foot variations (or even no foot variations like "supermans and superman fingerflips".
A variation on mountain boarding is kite landboarding. This involves using a power kite to pull the rider on a mountain board and gives them the ability to use the kite to generate enough power to get some lift, normally several feet up in the air and perform tricks. Experienced riders tend to prefer large kites and small boards to maximize their airtime.
The geography of the UK provides a great number of publicly accessible sites to board as well as a number of dedicated mountain boarding centres, where you can hire equipment, as well as having connections with the kite boarding industry. This Provides the ability to ride on flat ground as well as down hill, and opening up sites like Pendine Sands to boarders.
There is a yearly championship ran by the ATBA-UK, and has stages held at mountain boarding centres throughout the country and also has a number of one off events including a tournament at the Wight Air Festival. The tournaments are usually made up of different events; Boarder X, Free Style, and Big Air, as well as splitting the entrants down by age and sex.