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Winter Olympics

Snowboarding

Snowboarding is a board sport on snow similar to skiing, but inspired by surfing and skateboarding. Snowboarding is an increasingly common winter sport throughout the world where participants attach a wooden board to their feet and slide down a snow-covered mountain.

A snowboarder's equipment consists of a snowboard, snowboarding boots, bindings to attach their boots to the board, as well as snowboarding-specific winter clothing. Snowboarding became a Winter Olympic Games medal-eligible sport in 1998. Other events that focus on snowboarding are the annual European and U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships and the Winter X-Games. These events are hosted by various winter resorts in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

History

The snowboard evolved from early pioneering work by people such as Sherman Poppen (who invented the "Snurfer" in his North Muskegon, Michigan home), Tom Sims, and Jake Burton. For more on the history of snowboarding, see this Snowboard History Timeline.Snowboarding got its influences from other board sports such as surfing, skateboarding, and skiing. The first make shift snowboards were made in the 1920’s when children built them out of pieces of wood that they then rode down a hill covered in snow. Jake Burton Carpenter had a workshop starting in the mid 70’s in Manchester Vermont. Vermonts love of snowboarding soon grew when Jake Burton tried to make his vision of bringing snowboarding to the world a reality. This vision succeeded and he is now the owner of Burton Snowboards and has a big influence on snowboarding today. The First snowboard competitions were also held in Vermont in the 70’s and 80’s. Among them were the National Races at Suicide Six in Pomfret, Vt. Interest and The U.S. Open first held at Magic Mountain possibly one of the most renowned snowboard competitions in the world. Vermont was also the first place to open a snowboard park at Sonnenburg Ski Hill, in Barnard. Now that Snowboarding is a renowned Olympic sport there are many snow parks devoted to it.

Tips for first-time snowboarders: general ski clothing is fine, waterproof pants and gloves are a must. stretch out your legs, back and arms before riding. take lessons for a qualified instructor or at the very least find an experienced snowboarder to ride with you. set small goals and make one turn at a time to build confidence. Snowboarding technique has a few similarities to skiing, both the use of weighting while on edge and the following of the fall line are native to skiing. - Special thanks to accomplished snowboarder Seth Butler.

Disciplines

There are four primary sub-disciplines or sub-styles within snowboarding with each favoring a slightly different snowboard design.

Freeride

Freeriding is using the natural terrain of the mountain for recreation, without focusing on technical tricks or racing. Most snowboarders aspire to be freeriders and will explore the mountain through trees, in powder bowls or anywhere else they feel comfortable riding. Freeriding is also known as all-mountain snowboarding. A variant of freeriding focusing on extremely difficult lines is extreme snowboarding.

Freeride snowboarding, where the focus is on riding cleanly and enjoying the freedom to go and explore anywhere is influenced significantly by surfing. Many freeride purists attach an almost spiritual connotation to carving down the mountain.

Freestyle

Freestyle snowboarding is the practice of doing different kinds of tricks on a snowboard. Tricks can either occur on the ground (e.g. jibbing, bonking, grinding, pressing, buttering, ground spins etc.) or in the air (e.g. spins, flips, grabs). Freestyle snowboarders typically use shorter, softer boards and softer boots than other snowboarders, as the shorter board length reduces the weight and moment of inertia, making it easier to spin and maneuver, and the softer gear makes the board more forgiving to control for the particular demands of freestyle riding, such as slower speeds, high landing impacts, quick turns, and imperfect landings. Also, freestyle snowboards most likely have a true twin tip, in that both sides are the same. This is important because many freestyle snowboarders are landing backwards from their tricks and they need to be able to ride away. Softer boots and boards also allow riders more flexibility in body movement and the ability to reach very convoluted or stretched out, stylish body positions (known as tweaking it).

Freestyle snowboarding is arguably the most popular discipline, and is certainly the focus of most of the lifestyle marketing in the snowboarding industry. Freestyle is probably most demanded because of the thrill. Most snowboarders are thrill seakers and love to be doing tricks and putting their life on the edge. Freestyle can be done almost anywhere that has snow.

Freestyle snowboarding is influenced greatly by skateboarding. Many ski resorts operate terrain parks which often simulate the urban skateboard environment, complete with handrails, funboxes, and machine-formed jumps.

Alpine

Alpine snowboarding is the practice of turning by carving the snowboard (such that the board is tracking along the edge of the board), as opposed to skidding the snowboard (where the board is travelling in a different direction than it is pointing). Both traditional snowboard racers (though not necessarily boardercross racers) and recreational carvers are alpine snowboarders.

Alpine riders use hard plastic snowboarding boots, which resemble ski boots, except that they tend to be less stiff in the ankles and have a shortened heel, to minimize hanging over the edge of the snowboard. They tend to angle their feet much more forward than other snowboarders, and so also ride narrower boards. Alpine boards are usually, but not always, longer and much stiffer than freeride boards, as the particular demands of carving usually require as much usable edge length as possible. The hard plastic boots stiffens the ankle joint up significantly, making it more difficult to make small ankle adjustments while making skid turns, but making the board much more stable and powerful at higher speeds and the much higher g-forces typically felt by an alpine snowboarder in carved turns.

An analogy made by some alpine enthusiasts is that freeride and freestyle snowboards are like dirt bikes, and alpine/carving snowboards are like road bikes. (Hence riding a freestyle snowboard on groomed slopes is like riding a dirtbike on a road track or what is called SuperMoto).

A common misconception is that alpine snowboarding necessitates riding very quickly or racing. In fact, the only real defining characteristic of alpine snowboarding is that alpine snowboarders turn often and very hard while engaging the board in a carve. Short slalom boards with very short sidecut radii, for example, are alpine boards but can only be carved at slow speeds.

Alpine snowboarding is significantly less popular than other kinds of snowboarding, especially in the United States.

Powder Riding

Powder, which occurs after a heavy snowstorm, is a specific type of snow that is very light, fluffy, and most likely deep. Powder is very famous for being the most fun and sometimes challenging ski and snowboarding, solely because it is so soft. The bad thing about powder is that is if it sits for too long it gets compacted and becomes much harder and sometimes even icy. Even though it is hard to categorize areas in terms of powder, Powder on the east coast is generally not as common or as good as the powder on the west. In places where almost all of the runs are groomed, and powder is a rare find, you must venture into the tree trails. Powder makes for much smoother turns and in all smoother riding. Powder is also much better for those who go through the terrain park and do the jumps. This is so because the landings are always soft and it is less likely to get hurt. The only bad part of skiing or snowboarding in powder is that if you fall, sometimes it can be very difficult to get yourself out of the very deep powder snow.

Backcountry

This type of boarding started out with fresh powder-craving snowboarders who, most likely, didn't have the cash to spend at crowded upscale ski parks. In fact, before snowboarding was allowed at resorts, this was the only form of snowboarding; Jake Burton, one of the original pioneers of snowboarding, never even considered resorts; backcountry was what he envisioned as the future of snowboarding. Today, backcountry snowboarding is often for those who have enough to cash to afford trips to Alaska or the mountain ranges of the West, to ride outside resorts. Donning snowshoes or a split-board with skins, the backcountry snowboarder cuts a new path up the side of the mountain in search of the very best vistas and untouched snow. Some of those more cash-endowed riders can even hire snowcats or helicopters to take them where they want to go; this is known as catboarding or heliboarding respectively.

The split-board is exactly that, a snowboard cut right down the middle. When apart, the two halves can be used like cross-country skis to shuffle up the hill. At the top of the run, the halves are recombined, and the bindings rotated back into their sideways positions. Those that don't make use of the split-board will usually strap their board to their back and hike with snowshoes.

Snowboarders also use snowmobiles to ride in the backcountry. If the hill is too steep a snowmobile may not make it up the hill. Often snowboarders use snowmobiles to make jumps into the powder.

Safety is key when hiking and riding in the backcountry, especially after a fresh 'dump' of powder. Snow can be extremely unstable, often leading to avalanches. Backcountry riders are advised to take extreme caution in all conditions, to carry avalanche equipment including a probe, beacon, and shovel, and never to ride alone in the backcountry. Avalanche equipment can be purchased or rented at outdoor equipment stores. Courses in avalanche safety are also available.

Construction

The various components of a snowboard are:

  • a core: the bulk of a snowboard, the core is forms the interior of the snowboard. It is typically comprised of a solid material, normally either wood, foam, or some composite plastic. The properties of the core directly affect important characteristics of the board, such as flexibility and weight.
  • a base: this is the bottom of the board which is made of a graphitic material that is saturated with a wax that creates a very quick smooth, hydrophobic surface. Because the base of the board comprises the bulk of the board's interaction with the snow, it is important that it be as slippery with respect to the snow as possible. For this reason, different base waxes are available for different snow conditions. If the board is damaged, a new base pattern can be stone-ground into the board. If the base becomes significantly damaged, the board may become sluggish, or if the damage is deep enough, it may even weaken the core.
  • an edge: a strip of metal, tuned normally to just less than 90-degrees, that runs the length of either side of the board. The a sharp edge is necessary to be able to produce enough friction to ride on ice, and the radius of the edge directly effects the radius of carving turns, and in turn the responsiveness of the board. Kinking, rusting, or general dulling of the edge will significantly hinder the ability for the edge to grip the snow, so it is important that this feature is maintained.
  • there is also the "dgb" which is wood that goes in different directions over the core of the board to increase control. This construction feature is not included in all board designs.

Instruction

Snowboard instruction is available at almost every ski resort from certified snowboard instructors. Professional instruction is a good way to learn proper technique, safety policies, mountain etiquette and resort rules.

Snowboard lessons, as with ski lessons, can either be group or private lessons. Group lessons are often cheaper, but often have a high student-teacher ratio, resulting in less individual attention. Private lessons can be taught one-on-one or between a small group. Private lessons are often far more expensive than group, as it is the snowboarding analogue of being privately tutored. The rapport developed between an instructor and a student who returns for multiple lessons is the real benefit derived from private lessons; one is taught better by a teacher who knows them, and a student is more likely to heed the advice of someone they trust.

Typically, beginner snowboard lessons focus on very basic, common snowboarding skills. The first lesson often begins with basic safety policies, stretching, and learning to fall, then progresses to snowboarding with one foot on the board (particularly skating and J-turns). Then students learn how to turn and stop with both feet in. Other important beginner skills to learn are the falling leaf technique, side-slipping, and lift procedures. More advanced techniques that are taught in later lessons are linking turns, edge control, weight distribution, edge pressure, and eventually carving. As students progress in ability they can seek out specialized instruction in areas such as terrain park skills (jumps, rails, and pipes), mogul technique, off-piste riding, powder riding, and racing.

Safety

Wearing safety gear is highly recommended. The body parts most affected by injuries are the wrists, the tailbone and the head. Useful safety gear includes wrist guards, padded or protected snowboard pants and a helmet.

Padding can be useful on other body parts like hips, knees, spine and shoulders. Padding can be specialized for snowboarding, or it can cross sports. For example, knee pads used for volleyball can be useful for snowboarding. They can be useful for the many times that a snowboard rider may wish to rest on the knees, such as after coming to a stop.

General safety tips for winter sports, alpine conditions and skiing should also be respected.

Snowboarding vs skiing

There is a known culture clash between skiers and snowboarders. Purist skiers find snowboarding a less technical and primitive version of skiing. In exchange purist snowboarders often find skiing less exciting and to the tune of entertainment for senior citizens. Snowboarding's growing popularity combined with efforts from the Professional Ski Instructors Association (PSIA) which provides a certificate for snowboard instructors have furthered the sport into gaining credibility and respect among the ski community. As adults enter the sport and the early riders move through adulthood, the culture clash has shown significant signs of diminishing.

Videos and movies

Snowboard videos have become a huge part of the sport. Each season, many different snowboard films are released, usually in September. Production companies work all year developing these videos.

On December 2, 2005, a feature film was released called "First Descent", which documented the history of the sport as well as its modern day stars.

New developments

The combination of kiteboarding technology with snowboarding has led to the creation of a new sport, snowkiting. Using the pull of the wind, snowkiters are able to make massive jumps and travel uphill.;

 Snowboarding, Squaw Valley, CA
Snowboarding, Squaw Valley, CA
Krause, Kyle
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2006 Winter Olympics medal count
Pos Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Germany 11 12 6 29
2  United States 9 9 7 25
3  Austria 9 7 7 23
4  Russia 8 6 8 22
5  Canada 7 10 7 24
6  Sweden 7 2 5 14
7  Korea 6 3 2 11
8  Switzerland 5 4 5 14
9  Italy 5 0 6 11
10  France 3 2 4 9
 Netherlands 3 2 4 9
12  Estonia 3 0 0 3
13  Norway 2 8 9 19
14  China 2 4 5 11
15  Czech Republic 1 2 1 4
16  Croatia 1 2 0 3
17  Australia 1 0 1 2
18  Japan 1 0 0 1
19  Finland 0 6 3 9
20  Poland 0 1 1 2
21  Belarus 0 1 0 1
 Bulgaria 0 1 0 1
 Great Britain 0 1 0 1
 Slovakia 0 1 0 1
25  Ukraine 0 0 2 2
26  Latvia 0 0 1 1
    84 84 84 252

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Winter Olympics
Winter Games 2006
History of Winter Olympics
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