Snowboarding is a winter sport which involves throwing oneself down extremely steep mountains with both feet strapped to a piece of wood. The knack is being able to steer oneself down the slope while remaining upright on the board.
The act of manoeuvering a snowboard down a slope is know as 'carving'. This involves a repeated heel to toe motion which utilises the snowboard's edges and allows steering.
Stopping a snowboard requires a heavy turn on to either heel or toe edge thus bringing the line of the board perpendicular to the slope.
Boards and Bindings
Snowboards themselves, come in three varieties:
Alpine boards have a raised front lip but a flat back end. These are mainly used for racing.
Freeride boards are completely symmetrical, front and back, and can be ridden in any direction, either face-front or backwards (fakey). This is the most popular type of board.
Freestyle boards are semi-directional, with their front lip slightly higher than the back. However, riding fakey is still possible on these boards.
Typically the shorter the board the easier it is to ride, and it is recommended that all beginners should start off with a short freeride board. How short depends on the rider's height and weight, but the board must be able to flex. It is recommended that you try out different-sized boards before you buy.
Bindings are used to attach the riders feet to the board and these come in two styles:
Soft binding is the type of strap binding that is the most comfortable, flexible and inexpensive, making it the most popular choice.
- Step-in binding is the type that has semi-hard boots which clamp directly on to the board. They are easier to get in and out of but they're more expensive.
Skiing versus Snowboarding
Snowboarding is fast replacing skiing as the top alpine sport in the US. American snowboarders visited the slopes twice as many times as skiers in 1999. Despite this, many ski resorts still refuse to allow snowboarders on their slopes.
Typically, skiers complain that snowboarders carve up the snow, thus reducing snow quality, and can upset chairlift ride protocol. To many snowboarders it appears that the traditional skiing elite is simply upset that snowboarding has brought more people to the slopes.