Do you ever dream of flying through the air feeling weightless, hurling through trees and backwoods, or feeling the wind in your face as you pick up speed? If you want to experience any of those feelings try snowboarding. Strapping in for an adventurous ride on each run down the hill is a feeling that never goes away. Snowboarding is the perfect combination of hobby and thrill that makes entices improve, despite all of the wipeouts early on. It is composed of a rich and unique past, tremendous evolution, and an element of self-expression makes it so popular around the world.
The First Snow
The roots of snowboarding start in the 1960’s when a surfer from the east coast wanted to know hat would happen if he could put his surfboard on the snow. Sherman Poppen decided to cut down a surfboard to a slightly smaller version to use on the snow. Dubbed the “Snurfer” (snow-surfer) it was a wild success that started a movement. Over the next twenty years the development and distribution of snowboards took off. By this time skateboarders had began to influence the sport and help add dimension and diversity to the culture of snowboarding. To read more about the evolution of snowboarding click here. As the sport gained international attention the need for competitions arose. According to the Olympic webite “The United States held its first national championships in 1982 and hosted the first World Championships in 1983.” It goes on to say “The International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) formed seven years later and the International Ski Federation (FIS) introduced snowboarding as a FIS discipline in 1994.” Later in the article the 1994 Olympics are stated as the first games snowboarding was featured in.
In todays world you have events like the X- Games and the Mtn Dew Tour, which take place all over the world. They also provide events for professional to ride and compete year round. These events give you tremendous access to the riders in a fun spirited atmosphere as well as highlighting some of the world’s best mountains and courses. Many of the snowboarders who partake in these events are from all cross the globe. This helps to expand the sport internationally and encourage people from around the globe to pick up a board and try it for themselves at a mountain or hill nearby. While the best of the best compete in these events, there are smaller competitions at each mountain for non-professionals to compete in. Many times these events will give birth to the next big rider.
What to Wear & Ride
The apparel has advanced significantly from the early days of snowboarding. In the 60’s snowboarders and skiiers had to dress in layers upon layers of sweaters to stay warm. Now with the advancements in fabrics all people need is a snow coat and snow pants. Companies like Burton, Spyder, and Oakley have emerged as leaders in this market. I personally have always trusted Burton and Oakley for all of my outerwear. These brands are improving everything from goggles to socks or from head to toe in every color and style. The clothing industry has lengthened the skiing season tremendously and has become a method of expression for riders. Adorning yourself with the brightest colors and unique outfits has become a norm on mountains everywhere.
After all of the clothes are selected it is time to make an even bigger decision what board to ride on. Advancements in technology have brought snowboards light-years ahead of anywhere the snurfer could have dreamed of. Boards and bindings in today’s market are made of stronger and lighter composites and are built to handle all different sorts of environments. The bend of the board is also important when selecting a snowboard. Burton has a video explain all of the terms and explanations of the types of board bend types. I have always ridden on Burton boards. They are responsive, light, and extremely durable. I still have my first snowboard from ten years ago and ride on it on occasion.
Just as selecting a board is important so is selecting the bindings and boots because they are what connects rider and snowboard. The boots differ from the hard, stiff ones skiers wear because they provide for more movement of the ankle do to the bending that snowboarding requires. These types of boots are much easier to walk in and are often much warmer in colder temperatures. There are stiffer boots for snowboarders but are mainly used in down hill racing. The bindings come in a range of styles and sizes depending on the rider’s preference. Traditionally there are two straps that come over the toes and the ankle that have to be fastened before each trip down the run. To speed things up some bindings allow the rider to disengage the back of the binding with a lever and simply step out of them.
My start in this sport felt like a gigantic failure. I was twelve and trying to maneuver done some of New Yorks biggest mountains. Needless to say I came down the runs very slow, with a sore backside, and covered in snow. As the years went by and I improved slowly but I still was falling more than necessary. I thought to myself “this has to be better if I can stay upright for more than fifteen seconds.” From that moment on I began to gain more confidence in my snowboarding abilities and I never looked back. Now I can enjoy the destinations my family and I travel to and the incredible feeling each run has to offer.
Snowboarding allows you to embrace your inner daredevil or simply enjoy the scenery as your cruise down the mountain. Getting to enjoy a modern version of a sport that has seen so much change and incredible growth has an infectious energy. It allows people to express them selves with their talent and vibrant colors. It also exposes people to a supportive environment of growth and encouragement. Even though there is a leaning curve in the beginning, once you have mastered it there is know feeling quiet like snowboarding.