The History of Snowboarding

Snowboarding is both a recreational activity and an Olympic event. It was developed in the 1960s as a combination of sledding, skateboarding skiing and surfing and in 1998 it became an Olympic sport. It first emerged when an American engineer wanted to invent a new toy for his daughter. He did this by attaching two skis together and attaching a rope. The success was so great that he patented it in and it was dubbed the “snurfer”, selling over a million of them over the next decade.

During the 1970s the board was adapted by Tom Sims, a keen skate boarder, and the modern day appearance started to emerge. Competitions were appearing and the new activity was particularly popular amongst the young.

This is hardly surprising as it does not matter how skilled the surf boarder is they spend an awfully long time on their back side. The boarder is clipped into position and unlike modern day skis, it is extremely rare for the boarders to become completely detached from their boards.

Roope Tonteri in the Big Air

As the years progressed more and more competitions were organized however this often led to controversy involved as there was no conformity with the boards being used. In 1990 the International Snowboard Federation was founded, and with the help of the United States of America Snowboard Association, regulations were set in place and competitions were organized.

These early years often saw snowboarders coming into conflict with regular skiers and even the ski resorts. The new sport attracted a certain rebellious anti-authority following. It was closely linked with clothing manufacturers with the clothing attire worn by the boarders being totally different from what was being worn by the rest of the people on the ski slopes.

The early snowboarders constantly looked for adrenalin rush opportunities and would search for freshest snow and the steepest slopes. However as the sport has become more popular among the masses, and accepted by the skiing authorities, the early confrontational attitudes have appeared to have mellowed.

Being accepted into the 1998 Olympic Games has played a major part in the sports new positive image. At the 2018 Olympics a total of 5 gold medals were won in “big air”, “halfpipe”, “parallel giant slalom”, “slopestyle” and “snowboardcross”.  The event now has a number of international competitions including the World Cup and The World Championships.

Benjamin Karl competing in the Slalom

The World Cup is an annual competition with regular competitions being held at different locations around the world. The boarders win points from each event and then the final result is decided by the boarder who has collected the most points. The categories are the same ones that are competed for in the Olympic Games.

The World championships are held every other year and also include the events that are also competed for in the other major competitions. The venue for the events changes and so far 9 different countries have hosted the 15 different competitions.

Snowboarding is now a fully professional sport with the participators leading lifestyles associated with other professional athletes. The sport has actively tried to shy away from its previous anti-establishment image, and is now accepted by those in winter sports organizations.

However, there is still a desire among certain snowboarders to keep the original attitude of the activity being associated with freedom, and not just being about competition. Many of the most talented snowboarders who partake in the activity do so without any desire to take part in any competition.

They have a holistic attitude towards the activity. It is about the experience of visiting and experiencing the mountain wilderness in its purest form. The recent commercialism of snowboarding has not had a warm greeting in some areas, and many people take still part in the activity to experience the memories that they will have from their day in the mountains.