Snowboarding is a winter sport where a sportsman slides down the slopes on a snowboard. This recreational activity is even represented in the Olympic Games. Its origin traces back to the 1960s. The prototype of a modern board was so-called snurfer. It was quite primitive without any binding.
This device was invented by Sherman Poppen, an American surfer. He actually transferred surfing to the mountains. Since that the equipment has been constantly improving and now the arsenal of a rider includes:
- A board
- A pair of special boots
And also a snowboarding style is an attribute of every rider. There is a bunch of ways people hit the slopes. And we would like to present the most fascinating ones.
Freeride style means riding completely wild. It means shredding fresh snow somewhere in the mountains far from the groomed tracks. It can be dangerous since the terrain is unpolished and full of trees, stumps, balks, elevations and other obstacles on the ground. And therefore there are no rules and tracks, no viewers. There is only your board and extreme.
Where enjoy the virgin slopes? Good places are Verbier and Davos (Switzerland), Revelstoke and Kicking Horse (Canada), Crested Butte (USA). These resorts accommodate huge areas for extreme sliding.
Among the notable personalities, we would like to mention Craig Kelly. Snowboarders called him the God of freeriding. And he was one of the best shredders. His life was bright, snowy and fresh. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2003 trying to conquer the Revelstoke Mountains.
One of the best professionals in this area is Jeremy Jones. He is a founder of venture producing snowboards, particularly for the backcountry.
You need a special snowboard for conquering backcountry slopes. Freeriding boards are designed for speed and maneuvers. They are stiff, directional (never look back!), with binding positioned closer to the tail, and sharp edges. They are made to be stable and allow quick turning. Do not try hitting tricks.
These features are crucial when it comes to off-piste terrain. Since there are no snow groomers, this board variant is made to protect you from sticking into powder (dry fresh untouched snow).
Expert Tips for Freeriders
As you see, freeriding differs from the course tracks drastically. And to be good at it, you should keep in mind the following advice:
- Do not get stuck in powder. Since you ride mostly in deep powder-like snow, you have to prevent the nose of your snowboard from digging into the snow. That is why try to put your weight on your back leg to keep the front of your board upward.
- Your route may be full of ditches. Snow covers the pits. And sometimes it can take much time to dig yourself out when you are waist-deep in powder. To make it easier, put off your bag and put it on the snow. Then push up on it.
- Bring telescopic poles. They are useful when the slopes get extremely flat and you are unable to stop.
Freeriding – Video
Freestyle snowboarding is completely different. It involves mainly performing tricks and riding on the civilized tracks. You hit the slopes within the resort area with a plenty of other riders. It is not as hardcore as in case of the backcountry. But performing tricks makes it sometimes funnier.
The freestylers use any natural or artificial objects to perform tricks. They spin, jib and jump over the boxes, rails and other objects set across the routes.
And they do really crazy things. Mads Jonson is mad indeed. This man made the longest jump ever. He jumped at a distance of 57 meters (187 feet). How about sliding on a rail? In 2015 Basti Rittig set the world record.
He managed to slide 84 meters (275.6 feet) on the longest rail ever built (its length was 87 meters). And the highest jump belongs to Terje Håkonsen. He jumped at 9.8 meters (32 feet). If you want to make history, you need to obtain appropriate equipment. And the best terrain for this will be park areas of winter resorts.
Freestyle requires using a soft board. It is much shorter to provide better spinning momentum. Also, this snowboard is lighter and has two symmetrical tips. Thus, a rider can jump and rotate 180 degrees changing the direction.
With this snowboard, you will not hit the maximal speed or freely slide on powder. Its structure determines its purpose which is performing tricks.
Important Tips for Freestylers
Since freestyle means primarily tricks, you need to approach this wisely:
- First of all, you should fairly evaluate your skills and abilities. Do not hurry if you feel you cannot land properly or you are scared of doing some jumps or jibs. While performing all the stunning flourishes you risk injuring yourself. To avoid that, start your training with little obstacles. Winter resorts accommodate facilities by difficulty level. Start from the small and gradually switch to bigger.
- The second aspect is your physique. Success in snowboarding goes alongside physical training. Perform push-ups, bench press, squat, pull-ups, deadlift and other exercises maximizing your strength. Train flexibility as well.
- Check the facilities before starting doing tricks.
Freestyling – Video
Alpine snowboarding is all about speed. This is also an Olympic discipline first presented in 1998.
What makes it different from other styles? This comprises not only speed but also fast maneuvers named carvings. You turn so fast and your snowboard is so sharp, that you carve on the snow. The terrain is groomed and the snow is incredibly stiff. Such a surface is perfect for the carvers.
Such Gold medalists as Isabelle Blanc (France), Nevin Galmarini (Switzerland), Ross Rebagliati (Canada) and others reached the unbeatable mastery in this art. And there is no better place for extreme carving but ski resorts. On the other hand, many ski centers ban snowboarders because of dangerous behavior. They crash into skiers and damage the groomed slopes.
Alpine snowboards resemble skis. They are much stiffer, narrower, and longer than other boards in the industry.
They have greater traction and designed to be stable at high speed. It allows the carver to turn quickly and place their bodies as close to the ground as possible.
Some carvers use split-tail boards. Their length gives incredible stability and a split tail makes turns easy to perform.
Tips for Alpine Snowboarders
As you understand, alpine snowboards resemble skis. And here are other moments you should take into account:
- Proper equipment. Besides binding and boots, put on a helmet and protective goggles. Sometimes you will not react fast enough and protective outfit will save your life.
- Proper technique. To reach a higher speed, you need to improve the aerodynamics of your body and board. Bend your knees and get lower a little bit. Keep your shoulders parallel to the surface.
Alpine Snowboarding – Video
As you see these three styles differ greatly. Freeriding is for those who love untouched terrains and wild nature.
Freestylers love hitting the slopes at parks with numerous obstacles such as boxes, rails, and half pipes. They focus on stunning tricks. And alpine snowboarding is what relates to maximal speed and extreme riding. The carvers leave thick trenches on the snow behind. Decide what suits your personality the most.