Snowboarding facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Snowboarding
Snowboarding.jpg
A snowboarder making a turn in fresh snow
First played 1965, Muskegon, Michigan, U.S.
Characteristics
Type Outdoor
Equipment Snowboard, bindings, boots
Presence
Olympic 1998
Paralympic 2014

Snowboarding is a recreational activity and Winter Olympic and Paralympic sport that involves descending a snow-covered slope while standing on a snowboard attached to a rider's feet.

The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the United States in the 1960s, became a Winter Olympic Sport at Nagano in 1998 and eventually was featured in the Winter Paralympics at Sochi in 2014. Its popularity (as measured by equipment sales) in the United States peaked in 2007 and has been in a decline since.

History

Squaw3
Snowboarder riding off of a cornice
Snowboarder in the trees
Freeride snowboarding, in areas off of the main trails

Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughters by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so he would have some control as they stood on the board and glided downhill. Dubbed the "snurfer" (combining snow and surfer) by his wife Nancy, the toy proved so popular among his daughters' friends that Poppen licensed the idea to a manufacturer, Brunswick Corporation, that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. And, in 1966 alone, over half a million snurfers were sold. Later versions of the "snurfer" were flat planks of wood with a pointed bent upward tip with a rope connected to help keep control of the board and later models closer to the modern snowboard made up of various components.

In February 1968, Poppen organized the first snurfing competition 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. Articles about his invention in such mainstream magazines as Newsweek helped publicize the young sport.

The pioneers were not all from the United States; in 1976, Welsh skateboard enthusiasts Jon Roberts and Pete Matthews developed their own snowboards to use at their local dry ski slope.

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 and were not allowed on many ski hills, but eventually Burton would become the biggest snowboarding company in the business. Burton's early designs for boards with bindings became the dominant features in snowboarding.

In the early 1980s, Aleksey Ostatnigrosh and Alexei Melnikov, two Snurfers from the Soviet Union, patented design changes to the Snurfer to allow jumping by attaching a bungee cord, a single footed binding to the Snurfer tail, and a two-foot binding design for improved control.

The first competitions to offer prize money were the National Snurfing Championship, held at Muskegon State Park in Muskegon Michigan. In 1979, Jake Burton Carpenter, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own design. There were protests about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A "modified" "Open" 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. Ken Kampenga, John Asmussen and Jim Trim placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Standard competition with best 2 combined times of 24.71, 25.02 and 25.41 and Jake Carpenter won prize money as the sole entrant in the "open" division with a time of 26.35. In 1980 the event moved to Pando Winter Sports Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan because of a lack of snow that year at the original venue.

As snowboarding became more popular in the 1970s and 1980s, pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich (founder of Winterstick out of Salt Lake City, UT), Jake Burton Carpenter (founder of Burton Snowboards from Londonderry, Vermont), Tom Sims (founder of Sims 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. From these developments, modern snowboarding equipment usually consists of a snowboard with specialized bindings and boots.

In April 1981, the "King of the Mountain" Snowboard competition was held at Ski Cooper ski area in Colorado . Tom Sims along with an assortment of other snowboarders of the time were present. One entrant showed up on a homemade snowboard with a formica bottom that turned out to not slide so well on the snow.

In 1982, the first USA National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont, at Suicide Six. The race, organized by Graves, was won by Burton's first team rider Doug Bouton.

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.

In 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria, further cementing snowboarding's recognition as an official international competitive sport.

In 1990, the International Snowboard Federation (ISF) was founded 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.

At the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, Snowboarding became an official Olympic event. France's Karine Ruby was the first ever to win an Olympic gold medal for Woman's Snowboarding at the 1998 Olympics, while Canadian Ross Rebagliati was the first ever to win an Olympic gold medal for Men's Snowboarding.

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 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 women constitute 25% of participants.

There were 8.2 million snowboarders in the USA and Canada for the 2009-2010 season. There was a 10% increase over the previous season, accounting for more than 30% of all snow sports participants.

On 2 May 2012, the International Paralympic Committee announced that adaptive snowboarding (dubbed "para-snowboarding") would debut as a men's and women's medal event in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games taking place in Sochi, Russia.

Equipment

Snowboarders must wear clothes that guard against the cold temperature. They wear ski goggles to protect their eyes from the reflection of the sun on the snow and against the snow and the wind. It is essential to have a good view during the ride.

The board that they used has to be fitted by squares on all its length that allow snowboarders to practice this sport even if there is not a lot of snow. Also, the snowboard is equipped with binding to provide snowboarders stability.

Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended.

Styles

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.

Jibbing

"Jibbing" is the term for technical riding on non-standard surfaces, which usually includes performing tricks. The word "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.

Snowboarding in Hippach, Austria
Freeriding snowboarding

Freeriding

Freeriding is a style without a set of governing rules or set course, typically on natural, un-groomed terrain. The basic allows for various snowboarding styles in a fluid motion and spontaneity through naturally rugged terrain. It can be similar to freestyle with the exception that no man-made features are utilized. See also Backcountry snowboarding.

Snowboarding1
Freestyle snowboarding

Freestyle

Freestyle snowboarding is any riding that includes performing tricks. In freestyle, the rider utilizes natural and man-made features such as rails, jumps, boxes, and innumerable others to perform tricks. It is a popular all-inclusive concept that distinguishes the creative aspects of snowboarding, in contrast to a style like alpine snowboarding.

Alpine snowboarding

Alpine boarder
An Alpine snowboarder executes a heel-side turn

Alpine snowboarding is a discipline within the sport of snowboarding. It is practiced on groomed pistes. It has been an Olympic event since 1998.

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 Snowboarding consists of a small portion of the general snowboard population, that has a well connected social community and its own specific board manufacturers. 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. A skilled alpine snowboarder can link numerous turns into a run placing their body very close to the ground each turn, similar to a motocross 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.

Alpine snowboarding shares more visual similarities with skiing equipment than it does with snowboarding equipment. Compared to freestyle snowboarding gear:

  • boards are narrower, longer, and stiffer to improve carving performance
  • boots are made from a hard plastic shell
  • bindings have a bail or step-in design and are sometimes placed on suspension plates to provide a layer of isolation between an alpine snowboarder and the board
Snowboarder in flight (Tannheim, Austria)
Snowboarder in Tannheim, Tyrol, Austria

Slopestyle

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, or anything else the board or rider can slide across. Slopestyle is a judged event and winning a slopestyle contest usually comes from successfully executing the most difficult line in the terrain park while having a smooth flowing line of difficult, mistake-free tricks performed on the obstacles. However, overall impression and style can play factor in winning a slopestyle contest and the rider who lands the hardest tricks will not always win over the rider who lands easier tricks on more difficult paths.

Big air

Big air Québec 2011
Sebastien Toutant at the downtown Québec big air competition
Snowboarder in halfpipe
Snowboarder in the halfpipe

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 complex trick. But 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. Some competitions also require the rider to do a specific trick to win the major prize. 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.

Half-pipe

The half-pipe is a semi-circular ditch dug into the mountain or purpose-built ramp made up of snow, with walls between 8 and 23 feet (7.0 m). Competitors perform tricks while going from one side to the other and while in the air above the sides of the pipe.

Boardercross

Boardercross, also known as "Boarder X" and "Snowboard X", is a very popular but relatively recent winter sport, starting in the 1980s and earning its place as an official Winter Olympic sport in the 2006 Turin games. In Boardercross, several riders (usually 4 to 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.

Snowboard racing

In snowboard 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 the same time (SBX).

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Snowboarding Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.