What Is Snowboarding?


Snowboarding is an exciting winter sport that many people participate in competitively or just for fun. Snowboarding involves strapping your feet to a thin, sleek board and riding the board through snow over a range of different terrains. For leisure, many people simply ride snowboards down mountains, just like skiing. Talented riders can also opt to compete in different snowboarding events, from regional competitions all the way to the Winter Olympics. The two Olympic snowboard disciplines are categorized as freestyle/park events or racing events and are broken up into five different events.

  • Description: A sport in which riders stand on a long board and ride down a mountain through snow, using gravity to propel them. Riders can ride for leisure, race, or complete tricks in special snowboard/ski parks.
  • Founded By: Vern Wicklund
  • Founded Date: 1917
  • Governing Bodies: International Olympic Committee, International Ski and Snowboard Federation, International Snowboarding Federation
  • Regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America
  • Categories: Activities, Winter Sports, Individual Sports, Racing, Outdoor Sports, Sports, Snow Sports, Board Sports


Snowboarding History

Snowboarding began in the United States in the early 1900s. It is said that the first known practice of the sport occurred in 1917 in Minnesota, when a teenager named Vern Wicklund rode a sled down a snowy hill standing up. In 1965, Wicklund’s idea rapidly gained popularity when the company Sherman Poppen manufactured a board specifically designed for standing riding. The company’s creation took off, becoming a new winter sensation. In 1972, the first modern snowboard design was introduced by the company Winterstick.

As snowboarding gained exposure, it was associated with rebellious teens, similar to skateboarding. Many ski resorts even banned the activity until the 1990s, when it became more widely accepted. In the 1998 China Winter Olympics, snowboarding made its first appearance, demanding the attention of millions. Today, snowboarding shares the same popularity as skiing at winter resorts across the globe.

Rules and Objectives of Different Snowboarding Events

Snowboarding rules

While many engage in snowboarding for fun when visiting ski resorts, participating in backcountry and standard downhill riding, there are two main competitive styles of the sports, broken up into five different official Olympic events. The five different snowboarding events that appear in the Winter Olympics are the Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross, Slalom, and Air. 

The Halfpipe snowboarding event is a park/freestyle event in which snowboarders ride up and down a large halfpipe, attempting to perform tricks and get air above the lip of each half pipe. Riders are scored based on their tricks. If the competitor stops riding for ten seconds, their run is over.

The Slopestyle event is also a freestyle/park event, though it is not confined to a half pipe. Instead, riders traverse a course with different features and have the freedom to perform any tricks on any of the features. The riders are judged on their tricks by a group of nine judges. 

Snowboard Cross is a racing snowboard event in which multiple riders race down a course at once. Riders compete to finish the course in the fastest time. Riders must try to avoid interfering with an opponent’s run, as any intentional interference can disqualify the rider. 

Slalom is competed in by two riders simultaneously. The riders race down the hill, weaving in and out of markers. The riders must complete many turns at high speed during the event and cannot intentionally interfere with their opponent’s run. 

Air, or Big Air, is a park-style event in which riders descend from the hill and gain speed in order to launch off of one big jump. Riders wish to achieve the highest air time while also completing different acrobatic tricks. Riders must alternate the direction that they spin when conducting their tricks on each separate run.

Equipment and Lingo

Snowboarding Equipment
  • Boots- Specifically designed boots for snowboarding that every rider wears.
  • Bindings- Hardware that is mounted on the snowboard to strap the riders’ boots to the board.
  • Board- The snowboard is the fundamental piece of equipment in the sport and is usually made out of fiberglass with metal-lined edges.
  • Snow Pants- Thick water-resistant pants that most riders wear to prevent their legs from getting cold and wet. Often, snow pants also have padding in case the rider falls.
  • Jacket/Shell- Thick, insulating, water-resistant coats that snowboarders wear.
  • Goggles- Large protective goggles that shield the rider’s eye from debris, snow, and sunlight.
  • Helmet- Hard, padded headgear that a snowboarder wears to protect their head if they crash. The helmet is crucial in protecting the rider from injury.
  • Pinnies- In competitions, snowboarders often wear pinnies over their jackets. Pinnies are lightweight mesh vests that differentiate between riders.
  • Run- A snowboarder’s ride or turn down the course.
  • Air- The act of launching off of a ramp at high speeds. Usually, snowboarders wish to achieve the highest air/height.
  • Ski Socks- Thick, moisture-wicking socks that snowboarders and skiers wear underneath their boots.

Famous Snowboarders

Here is a list of the sport’s most famous and talented riders:

  • Shaun White
  • Chloe Kim
  • Travis Rice
  • Danny Kass
  • Gretchen Bleiler
  • Mark McMorris
  • Anna Gasser
  • Lindsey Jacobellis
  • Max Parrot
  • Terje Hakonsen


How Does Snowboarding Work?

Snowboarding is a winter sport in which riders strap their feet to sleek fiberglass boards and ride down snowy hills. The bottom of a snowboard has a wax coating to prevent friction against the snow. Riders can snowboard for leisure or competitively. In competitions, there are two main types of snowboarding, racing and park, that are broken up into five different Olympic snowboarding events: Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross, Slalom, and Air.

Who Created Snowboarding?

Snowboarding was originally created by Vern Wicklund in 1917 when he rode a sled downhill standing up. The first snowboard-like product was produced in 1965, loosely resembling snowboards today. The first modern snowboard was sold in 1972 by the company Winterstick. The board was made out of fiberglass and featured metal-lined edges for rigidity and support. Since Winterstick’s creation, snowboarding has gained wild popularity.

Is Snowboarding An Olympic Sport?

Snowboarding is an Olympic Sport in which athletes ride down snowy mountains, strapping their feet to sleek fiberglass boards. Snowboarding first appeared at the 1998 China Winter Olympics. In the Winter Olympics, snowboarding can be broken up into racing events and freestyle events. There are five different snowboarding events in the Winter Olympics: Halfpipe, Slopestyle, Snowboard Cross, Slalom, and Air.