What is Snowboarding?


Snowboarding is a sport that was inspired by sports like skiing, skateboarding, and surfing all of which it took inspiration from and has elements of each within it. Snowboarding is represented in the Winter Olympics, Paralympics, and also the Winter X-games along with many other snowboarding tournaments and events that are held across the world. Snowboarding's modern roots started in the 1960s and over the next few decades became a popular recreational sport, and today athletes like Shaun White have made snowboarding become a globally popular sport with fans and athletes from across the world.


Snowboarding's modern roots start in 1965 when Sherman Poppen invented the Snurfer in his garage which became a huge hit with kids and ended up selling 100,000s of units. After this over the next few decades many different snowboarding companies and brands formed like Winterstick in the 1970s. After this the Burton-Sims Snowboarding war in the late 1970s through the 1990s which ended up with Burton being the premier snowboarding brand.

Snowboarding then started getting mainstream attention in the 1980s and 1990s as the first ever Snow Snurfing championship was held in 1982 and during the late 1980s snowboarding was finally allowed on ski mountains where it had been previously banned.

After this, snowboarding was finally included in the Winter Olympics in 1998 though it didn't go great as Norway's Terje Haakonsen, considered the greatest snowboarder of the time boycotted the games and the first gold medalist was stripped for testing positive for marajuna. However, the next big thing in snowboarding Shaun White helped increase the popularity of the sport as between December 2005 and March 2006 he entered 12 competitions and had 12 first place finishes including the Winter X-Games and Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding History

Playing Surface

Snowboarding is done on the snow on mountaintops across the world, but when you get to snowboarding competitions there are different kinds of snowboarding events in which the athletes compete on different types of playing surfaces with snow. This includes the men's halfpipe in which the athlete does tricks in a giant U-shaped snow surface. Then for events like the big air it is done on a snowy mountain side for the event where the athletes do giant jumps and tricks.


Snowboarding has a good amount of important equipment that you need if you want to start snowboarding. The most essential snowboarding equipment is snowboarding boots as having a pair of snowboarding boots that don't fit well will cause your feet a lot of discomfort and may prevent you from performing well. Also important is having your own snowboard as many times rental snowboards aren't the best and you have limited choices of snowboard to rent.

Another important piece of snowboarding equipment to have is bindings which are what go over your snowboarding boots to attach them to the board. Helmets are another piece of equipment that any snowboarder should have as it could help prevent a major head injury in the event of a bad wipeout while riding. Other gear that snowboarders have is a good pair of gloves, good weather resistant outerwear, and goggles. Gloves and outerwear help prevent frostbite and getting cold while riding, and goggles that fit and are comfortable are important in order to help you keep the snow out of your eyes so you can ride effectively.

Snowboarding Equipment


Snowboarding itself is a fun sport in which a person descends a snowy slope on a board that is attached to their feet using a specific snowboarding boot and bindings. Snowboarding combines the aspects of similar sports like skateboarding, skiing, and surfing from which it was inspired from into the sport. It is very similar to skiing as even in the Olympics snowboarding and skiing have many similar types of events. It also has similarities to skateboarding as snowboarding has the half pipe event and also events in which riders will ride on rails and other things similar to skateboarding.

Types of Snowboarding

Snowboarding, whether in the Winter Olympics or on your closest mountain, has many different types of riding that you can do. The most basic type of snowboarding is freeriding in which the rider simply rides however they want on whatever mountain they are on, which is the most common type.

Then, there is freestyle which is when you snowboard and do tricks, which is different then Urban snowboarding which involves the use of man made things like handrails and ledges to ride on outside of resorts. Besides these there is also the Half Pipe which has been popularized at the olympics and is extremely similar to skateboarding half pipes in which the rider does tricks at high speed while riding through the U shaped snow.

Finally, there is also Boardercross/Racing which involves the athlete getting down the slope as fast as possible. Boardercross is an adaptation of BMX riding and has 4 riders going down the slope at once with different jumps and beams mixed into the event, while the slalom event in the Olympics is the other type of racing in which the rider is timed through a series of gates while riding down the slope.

Safety Rules

Rules for snowboarding differ on every mountain, but there are certain rules that are common for each resort that you go to. One rule is passing etiquette in which if you are higher up the slope then the person below you it is your responsibility to get by them safely.

Another important rule is to make sure that you are able to stop safely and are comfortable with doing it, as if you are going too fast and don't know how to stop safely then you can get injured. If you don't know how to stop safely then you should try to ride slowly which allows you to do a crash stop (purposefully taking a tumble). When stopping, it is important to make sure to not stop suddenly in front of others, not stop in the middle of the slope, and don't stop at any blind spots where other riders can't see you from a far distance. Finally make sure to respect signs and boundaries as the resort puts them in place to make sure riders stay safe.

Judges and Officials

In snowboarding judges and officials at the professional level are key in judging the competitions and especially events like the big air and the halfpipe. According to Emmanuelle Châtel, a referee and commentator for professional snowboarding, judging in competitions are based upon difficulty, execution, amplitude (height), the landing, and variety of the tricks. Additional factors such as use of course for events like the slopestyle and the creativity of the rider also goes into the score. Also, judges also have to look for mistakes and that will give the athlete a lower score.

Lingo and Terminology

Snowboarding has lots of different lingo that is typically used on the mountain.

  • Pow:Refers to snow powder on the mountain
  • Ridin'/Cruisin': When you are heading down the slopes
  • Shreddin' the Gnar: Shorthand for riding across the terrain of the mountain
  • Steez: Means that you are snowboarding with style
  • Crunchy: Cool
  • Gnarly: Awesome
  • Booter: A jump that you do on the snowboard
  • Stomp: When you land a jump/trick
  • Bail: When you don't land a jump
  • Gaper: Someone who is new to snowboarding

Snowboard Instructors

Snowboard instructors are common at each ski resort and typically are the person that you have to go through in order to learn the basics of snowboarding before you are allowed to go on the slope. Snowboarding instructors teach numerous lessons and levels of snowboarding skills and techniques, and even help professional snowboarders work on their technique also. Instructors also need to do 20 hours of training per week on top of all the time that instructors spend riding on the mountain too.

Skills and Techniques

The foundations of snowboarding skills are stance and balance as being able to maintain a balanced position on the board is essential and allows you to adapt to changes in the terrain. The most important thing is to stay centered by evenly distributing weight between both feet by keeping your hips centered on the "sweet spot" mid way between the bindings of the board. Another skill is to flex your knees and ankles which boosts stability even more by lowering your center of gravity.

Shifting your weight is an important technique; putting your weight forward stops your board from running away and also is how you start a nose press and nollie. Putting your weight back lifts the nose of your board out of the powder and allows you to start an ollie. Moving with the board is also important as rotating through your head, hips, knees, and ankles improves balance and power in your turns and spins. Keeping your head looking forward also helps keep your body stacked over the board and is another important technique.

Training and Tips

If you want to improve your snowboarding skills there are certain training drills and tricks that can help you become a better rider. First, make sure that you stay fit and concentrate on four main areas: Good strength to weight ratio (get stronger but not heavier), increase your core strength, increase your leg strength, and make sure to stay flexible.

Another good thing to help improve your skills is to not only learn how to ride in one direction but to learn how to switch ride in the other direction. Switch riding helps improve your coordination and skills and makes you a better rider overall as it is difficult and awkward to do at first. Believe it or not another great way to train for snowboarding is by jumping on a trampoline which pro snowboarders like Billy Morgan and Jenny Jones do often. Over-emphasising movements is another great way to train for snowboarding as it allows you to get a better understanding for how your body movements affect how the snowboard moves.

Olympic Snowboarding

Olympic Snowboarding is something that has only been included in the Olympics since 1998, but since then snowboarding has gotten widespread popularity from its inclusion in the Olympics and stars like Shaun White have made it a must watch event. Olympic snowboarding today has five official events for both the men and women: Big Air, Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross, and Parallel Giant Slalom.

Big Air is an event in which the athlete goes down the hill and performs tricks after launching off the large jumps. Halfpipe is when the athlete rides through a U shaped snow area and does tricks while going up and down it, similar to a skateboarding halfpipe. Slopestyle is when the athletes go down a slope course that includes a variety of obstacles like rails and jumps. Snowboard Cross is similar to Slopestyle except four competitors are on the course at once during the event. Finally, Parallel Giant Slalom is when two of the athletes will race each other down two parallel identical courses at the same time.

Snowboarding Brands

When choosing your snowboarding equipment there are many different brands that you can choose from that offer many different types of boards, boots, and equipment that you will need. Listed below are some of the top brands to choose from today including Burton, one of the original brands and the most popular one today.

  • Burton
  • Lib Tech
  • Arbor
  • Capita

Snowboarding Youth Organizations

Across the US there are many different Snowboarding youth organizations out there and many of them also are aimed at disadvantaged youths like the Chill Foundation and Skiduck. However, there is also the USASA which is the largest snowboarding and freeski organization in the country that holds events for younger snowboarders.

https://www.chill.org/Organization for Disadvantaged Youths
https://skiduck.org/Organization for Disadvantaged Youths
https://usasa.org/Youth Snowboarding

Famous Snowboarders

Even though snowboarding is a relatively new sport and was only added to the Olympics in 1998 there have been many famous snowboarders throughout its history. Athletes like Terje Hakonsen helped pave the way for snowboarding and then stars like Shaun White helped push snowboarding's popularity to even greater heights.

Shaun White American
Terje Haakonsen Norwegian
Gretchen BleilerAmerican
Travis Rice American

Snowboarding Events

There are many snowboarding events and competitions held across the world but there are three main competitions that have the most importance in the snowboarding industry. These are the Winter Olympics, Winter X-Games, and US Open.

Winter OlympicsVaries
Winter X-Games Aspen, Colorado
US Open (Snowboarding)Vail, Colorado

Snowboarding Books

With the popularity of snowboarding there are many books out there talking about techniques and skills to do with snowboarding for riders of all skill levels.

Fifty Places to Ski and Snowboard Before You Die Chris Santella and Matt Hansen
Snowboarding Freestyle Tricks, Skills and TechniquesAlexander Rottmann and Nici Pederzolli
SnowboardingDan Wakeham and Sophie Everard

Snowboarding Websites

With the popularity of Snowboarding many websites have become either retailers of snowboarding equipment or write about snowboarding techniques and what's happening in snowboarding in general.

Snowboarding FAQ

What is Snowboarding?

Snowboarding is a sport in which a rider goes down a snowy slope on a board that is attached to their feet using a specially designed boot and straps.

Which is easier to learn skiing or snowboarding?

Typically, most people believe that snowboarding is harder to learn, but easier to master while skiing is something that is easier to learn, but harder to master.

What is the point of snowboarding?

The point of snowboarding is to have fun going down a snowy hill at high speeds and in competitions the goal is to do the best tricks, or be the fastest.

How expensive is snowboarding?

To get all the snowboarding equipment that you need can cost from $300 to $400 which, while expensive, is cheaper than getting all the ski equipment you would need which would be from $500 to $600.