Whereas the rapid rise of snowboarding as a pastime and sport once shocked many, especially those in the skateboarding and skiing world, by the 21st century, it has become fully absorbed into mainstream sport culture. The image of snowboarding has also dramatically developed over the decades, and whereas snowboarders used to commonly incorporate rebellious punk and hip hop styles into their clothing, these days, they attract a much greater degree of respect from skateboarders, skiers and sledders.
The evolution of snowboarding
The sport of snowboarding evolved out of sports like skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing – and, indeed, bears unmistakable similarities to all such sports. This period of evolution can be traced back to 1965, when an engineer in Michigan created a new toy for his daughter through fastening two skis together, and later to 1977 when Burton Snowboards, eventually the largest snowboarding company in the business, was founded. In the time since, snowboarding has developed many different, occasionally overlapping, styles – including free-ride, freestyle, and free-carve/race.
The antagonistic view of snowboarding from resentful skiers largely defined the image of snowboarding in its early years. Many unflattering stereotypes of snowboarders, including “lazy”, “grungy”, “punk” and “stoners”, abounded, but have since gone well out of style. Today, the international snowboarding fan base is very eclectic, making stereotyping much less feasible. Snowboarding has cultivated an increasingly attractive image in the media, the range of available snowboarding magazines has flourished, and 25% of today’s snowboarders are now female.
It is little surprise, then, that snowboarding is now established as a professional sport. In 1985, the first snowboarding World Cup was held in Austria, while 1994 saw the setting up of the International Snowboard Association (ISA). Snowboarding eventually become a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998, and today, snowboarding remains a key aspect of internationally renowned and broadcasted events like the Olympic Games, Winter X-Games and US Open. The use of ski areas for snowboarding has also dramatically risen; whereas only 7% of US ski areas in 1985 permitted snowboarding, now, snowboarding is allowed on about 97% of ski areas throughout North America and Europe.
Snowboarding is FUN
How has the popularity of snowboarding rocketed so much in such a short space of time? Simple: it’s fun! The exact reasons why, however, are bound to differ for everyone. For many, snowboarding can provide a great opportunity to quite literally get away from it all, and sample a truly exhilarating experience almost akin to flying. Others take a similar attitude to skateboarders and surfers in relishing the challenge of always learning new tricks to impress onlookers. And then, of course, there are the fitness benefits: snowboarding quite possibly exercises every single muscle that you can think of.
Indeed, mastering all of the techniques of snowboarding, from beginner to highly advanced, can be a massive, but incredibly satisfying, challenge. The techniques that you really should know are listed elsewhere on this site, but fall into one of three major categories of snowboarding style: free-ride, freestyle, and free-carve/race. Common techniques include jibbing, basically involving riding on any surface other than snow; free-riding, the highly accessible method of riding down any available terrain; freestyle, whereby tricks are performed using man-made terrain features like rails, jumps and boxes; and free-carve, similar to traditional skiing and with little or no jumping involved.
Of course, if you are thoroughly familiar with snowboarding, then you will already be aware of all the associated boons discussed throughout this article. And if you aren’t so familiar with snowboarding… well, you have probably read enough to entice you to change that!
This article originally appeared on www.snowboard.ltd.uk.