Snowboarding is a boardsport on snow. Snowboarders' (called riders) equipment consists of a snowboard, boots, and bindings. It became a Winter Olympic Games medal sport in 1998.
Snowboarding involves descending a snow covered slope with a snowboard attached to your feet. Many snowboarders find it simpler than skiing, which is making it a popular and fast growing snow sport.
The boots worn for most types of snowboarding (including beginner-level riding) are soft, not the hard plastic that ski boots are made of. Snowboard bindings, unlike ski bindings, do not release; meaning that you are strapped onto the board until you release the bindings yourself. Both strap-on and step-in bindings are available, with most riders favoring strap-ons.
Typically, the first day of learning how to snowboard is harder than skiing, with many more falls and bruises. However, mastering snowboarding is considered far simpler, requiring only the mastery of two edges as opposed to four edges and two poles in skiing.
There are three primary sub-disciplines in snowboarding:
- This covers most snowboarders - the object is just to have fun cruising down the mountain. This is also known as all-mountain snowboarding. Another variant of Freeriding is extreme snowboarding.
- Freeride snowboarding is influenced significantly by surfing, where the focus is on making clean lines in the snow. Many freeride purists attach an almost spiritual connotation to carving down the mountain.
- Though the term itself is rather nebulous, it is mostly used to describe snowboarders who prefer to spend most of their time "getting air" with jumps and halfpipes. Freestyle is an open term that can mean just about anything, but for historical reasons the term has come to be associated with this style of riding. Typically, a wider & shorter snowboard between 130 and 170 centimeters is combined with soft-shelled boots to afford the rider with more flexibility. The flexibility of the fiberglass snowboard allows it to flex on the transitions of a half pipe or obstacle, while the more flexible boots make it easier for the rider to make tight turns.
- Freestyle snowboarding is influenced greatly by skateboarding. Many ski areass operate terrain parks which often simulate the urban skateboard environment, complete with handrails, funboxes and machine formed jumps.
Each subdiscipline tends to favor a slightly different snowboard design.
- Relative to freestyle and freeriding, there aren't very many people pursuing the Alpine subdiscipline. Alpine snowboarders use longer, pointed, narrow boards and the hard-shelled boots which resemble ski boots. The alpine board is designed purely for carving down pistes, both feet are angled sharply forward.
See also: Boarder Cross, Skateboarding, Skateboarding trick