From Freestyle to Backcountry: The Different Styles of Snowboarding

From Freestyle to Backcountry: The Different Styles of Snowboarding

There is so much more to snowboarding than just sideways sliding down a mountain. There are numerous varieties of snowboarding, each with its own tricks, attributes, and gear: from jibbing to boardercross and from freestyle to freeride. Snowboarding can be done in many different ways, such as carving powder, lapping the park, or cruising the groomers. Essentially, the process of selecting a snowboard is guided by three main categories of snowboards and riding styles: all mountain, park/freestyle, and powder/freeride. 

Depending on where and how you want to use them on the mountain, each of these categories has advantages and disadvantages. The first step in determining which kind of snowboard is the greatest fit for you is determining your skill level and riding style. 

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We’ll fill you in on all of the most well-known snowboarding techniques in this article. 

 

Snowboarding has its roots in surfing, skateboarding, and skiing. The main activity is to ride a snow-covered hill down. Balance and quickness are essential in this sport, and several distinct styles with sophisticated movements have been established. A snowboard is essentially an unwheeled skateboard with some added efficiency-focused design elements. Though it can vary in size, the board typically measures 1.5 meters in length and 25 centimeters in width. There are also boots on it that are bound to it. It’s simple to locate winter sports facilities and experience the rush of snowboarding, but professional snowboarding requires both time and proper training.

 

It was created in the US during the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1998 it was added to the Olympic Winter Games.

The Story

Snowboarding dates back to the 1920s, when men and boys would use clotheslines and horse reins to tie plywood or wooden planks from barrels to their feet so they could slide down hills. 

A significant period in snowboarding history is the 1980s and 1990s. Professional snowboarding events started in the early 1980s, with the majority of the events being race and trick competitions. This led to the creation of the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) in 1985. Movies featuring snowboards also began to feature. A memorable scene from the 1995 James Bond film “A View to Kill” features snowboarding. Giant slalom and halfpipe snowboarding events were introduced to the Olympic program in 1998. The sport saw significant growth in the 1990s as a result of manufacturers starting to produce snowboards on a larger scale.

Snowboarding Types

There are several types available for riders. Choose the kind of snowboarder you are or want to be before you spend any money on gear.

Freeride

The key to this style is developing an all-around technique that allows you to ride, carve, and jump on any kind of surface. 

The freeriding style is a good place for beginners to start because it doesn’t require much technical skill and instead emphasizes enjoying the ride. 

Plate bindings, strap or flow-in bindings, and soft snowboard boots are the typical equipment used in freeriding. Snowboards designed for freeriding tend to be longer, narrower, and have a deeper side cut.

Freestyle

Because of the sport’s thrills and tricks, it is the most popular kind of snowboarding. The emphasis of freestyle is on halfpipes, rail slides, jumps, tricks, and switch riding. Because the majority of the techniques are aerial, it is better suited for experts. The snowboards are lighter, shorter, and softer, with the tail and tip having the same shape, and snowboarders wear softer boots to reduce weight for easier airborne maneuvering.

Splitboarding

Splitboarding allows riders to use the same piece of equipment for both snowboarding and skiing at the same time. The splitboard is similar to a snowboard in terms of shape and construction, but it can split into two pieces to be used as skis. The rider can effortlessly transition between the board’s “ski mode” and “ride mode” interfaces. Unlatching the snowboard’s tips and tails and switching the bindings from ride to ski mode only takes a minute or two to complete. Applying the climbing skins that are fastened to the board’s side and continuing with the skinning process come next. To return the board to ride mode, follow these same steps in reverse order. The splitboard’s dual purpose enables the rider to descend hills like a snowboarder and climb them like a skier. With a backpack on, a splitboard offers ease of use, gliding ability, and flotation. 

Snowboarding Styles 

In the sections below, we will describe different snowboarding styles.

Olympic Styles

While many people snowboard for recreational purposes at ski resorts, taking part in backcountry and standard downhill riding, there are two primary competitive snowboarding styles, which are divided into five official Olympic events. The halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboard cross, slalom, and air are the five snowboarding events that compete in the Winter Olympics. 

Halfpipe

In the halfpipe snowboarding events, snowboarders compete in a park/freestyle format by riding up and down a sizable halfpipe while trying to land tricks and get air above each half pipe’s lip. A rider’s score is determined by their tricks. The competitor’s run ends after ten seconds of not riding.

Slopestyle

​​Though it isn’t limited to a half pipe, the slopestyle event is still a freestyle/park competition. Riders navigate a course with a variety of features and are free to trick on any of them. Nine judges evaluate the riders based on their tricks. 

Slalom

Two riders compete simultaneously in the slalom event. Riders weave in and out of markers as they race down the hill. Throughout the competition, the riders must make a lot of turns quickly and are not allowed to purposefully obstruct their opponent’s run. 

Snowboard Cross

Snowboard cross is the official title for the competitive downhill event also known by riders and extreme sports fans as boardercross. A group of snowboarders, usually four, compete simultaneously along a course intended to test their board control in a sport also known as boarder X, BX, or SBX. 

Unlike most snowboarding competitions, the winner is the first person to cross the finish line; style and technique are not scored. 

Along with the course’s many obstacles, such as abrupt turns, moguls, drops, jumps, peaks, and flats, snowboard cross competitors also have to deal with one another. As they speed down the short course, racers frequently bump into one another, which means that they are frequently battling for both position and balance. 

Big Air

In big air, snowboarders can perform particularly amazing tricks by sliding down a 49-meter-tall ramp (the largest in the world is in Pyeongchang) that curls up at the end and launches them into the sky, seemingly forever.

In contrast to other sports like slopestyle, where competitors complete a course and have multiple opportunities to showcase their skills, big air is centered around a single, impressive jump.

Non-Olympic Styles

Alpine Snowboarding

When snowboarding was still in its infancy in the mid-1980s, riders used the ski resorts’ pre-existing infrastructure and the ski racing venues for what was known as alpine snowboarding, or freecarving. By the late 1990s, however, the majority of ardent snowboarders dismissed alpine snowboarding and called it snowboard skiing. Especially in its slalom variations, where the emphasis is on expert carving, frequently at high speeds, rather than jumps and tricks, it still bears many similarities to skiing.

All-Mountain

All-mountain snowboarding is a mix of snowboarding styles that can be execrised all over the mountains. Whether you want to carve, jump or ride powder, this type of snowboarding is an allround style of snowboarding that includes it all. It is a well-loved style among many recreational snowboarding aficionados that don’t want to stick to one certain style. All-mountain snowboards are allround boards that have features of both freestyle and freeride boards.

Jibbing

Tricks on non-standard surfaces are part of this technical style. Jib is a noun that refers to metal rails, boxes, benches, concrete ledges, walls, cars, rocks, and logs. The name itself is a clear indication of the maneuvers and tricks involved. Its verb form means to jump, slide, or ride atop objects. Jibbing can be exercised both on the snow and in city environments. A popular jib event, Rail Jam features riders performing tricks on walls, pipes, boxes, rails, and other inventive features. Riding in a jam format allows riders to take as many runs as they like in the given timeframe. 

Backcountry

Backcountry snowboarding is the practice of riding through pristine, undeveloped snow and challenging natural terrain beyond the confines of well-known ski resorts. It involves climbing mountains on foot or with specialized gear like splitboards to reach isolated spots that aren’t reachable by chairlifts or gondolas. Compared to resort riding, backcountry snowboarding demands a greater degree of ability, knowledge, and preparation, but it also provides a special and close connection with the natural world. 

Backcountry snowboarding requires skill, knowledge of the mountains, and specific safety gear (such as an airbag or beacon in case of an avalanche). It is not recommended for novices.

 

Backcountry and big mountain snowboarding delivers the fluid flow of freeriding to more isolated wilderness areas, with a sole focus on riding beyond a resort’s boundaries. Although riders frequently use resorts to reach off-limits areas, backcountry snowboarding lacks any man-made components or features. There are many ways for riders to get into wilderness areas: from snowmobiles and even helicopters to hiking, snowshoeing, and splitboarding, which is converting a snowboard into alpine skis. The backcountry journey frequently takes riders to peaks and locations deep in the wilderness, with the aim of riding unridden lines. Riding in these conditions usually necessitates paying close attention to mountain safety and taking a slower, more deliberate descent method. There is hardly any backcountry riding that is competitive.

Backcountry is the most exciting snowboarding style, so we will describe it in more detail.

Appeal

Adrenaline seekers looking for seclusion, unspoiled scenery, and a closer bond with the natural world are drawn to backcountry snowboarding. It provides a way out of the lift lines, congested slopes, and resort limits. One of the main attractions for backcountry enthusiasts is the freedom to select your own lines and locate the best deep snow in the unspoiled glory of the mountains. It allows you to go skiing in the backcountry with your friends! Recall that it’s critical to approach backcountry snowboarding with awareness, respect, and a firm grasp of the risks involved. 

Equipment

Backcountry skiers use some of the longest and stiffest snowboards available, along with stiff boots and bindings, due to the deeper snow and challenging conditions. Splitboards — traditional snowboard decks cut in half to serve as Alpine-approach skis for backcountry access — are becoming more and more popular. With the ability to carry a snowboard on their back and descend as a snowboarder, snowboarders can now ascend a slope similar to that of Alpine skiers.

Competitions

This kind of snowboarding has little official competition; most viewers are introduced to it through movies and video documentaries. 

These backcountry freeriders may jump off a cliff that has never been attempted or snowboard down a pitch that has never been navigated. Even though they snowboard on previously-ridden mountains, their skill level or style sets a new standard for both the sport and that particular location.

There have been some notable successes with backcountry and freeride competitions. One such competition is the yearly “King of the Hill” held in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska during the 1980s and 1990s. While a panel of judges watched and gave scores based on the riders’ mastery of the terrain, riders descended insanely steep faces. The Freeride World Tour, which replaced this competition, attracts riders from all over the world who alternately descend a pre-designed mountain section while being scored by judges based on line choice, difficulty level, style, and control.

Safety

Risks associated with backcountry snowboarding include avalanches, exposure to severe weather, and the possibility of getting hurt in isolated areas. To reduce these risks, it is essential to put safety first and take the appropriate safety precautions. 

Tips

???? Fitness regime. Backcountry snowboarding can be challenging for the body, involving prolonged hiking or skinning uphill. Make sure you have the strength and endurance required to fully enjoy the experience by placing a high priority on your physical health and conditioning. To get your body ready for the challenges ahead, mix strength training, flexibility training, and cardiovascular exercises into your fitness regimen.

???? Avalanche training. Precise avalanche safety training is essential before venturing into the backcountry. The knowledge and skills linked to snowpack analysis, avalanche rescue techniques, route selection, and decision-making in avalanche terrain are invaluable and can be acquired through courses like AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level 1. You will leave this training with the skills needed to evaluate risk, decide wisely, and handle possible avalanche scenarios with ease. There might be courses available from your local avalanche forecast reporters.

???? Weather conditions. Planning a safe and enjoyable backcountry trip requires staying informed about the weather and snow conditions. Regularly check local reports on snowpack stability, avalanche bulletins, and weather forecasts. Making educated decisions about where and when to ride will be made easier if you are aware of the characteristics of the snowpack, recent weather trends, and the possibility of changing conditions.

???? Avalanche terrain. Backcountry snowboarding safety requires a thorough understanding and assessment of avalanche terrain. Discover how to spot terrain traps, slopes with critical angles, and probable avalanche start locations. Avalanche-prone areas and steep slopes should be avoided, especially when the risk of an avalanche is high. Make informed decisions about where to ride and when to avoid potentially hazardous areas by regularly assessing the snowpack and terrain features. Keeping an eye on the locations of nearby backcountry travelers is also crucial.

???? Group communication. Snowboarding in the backcountry is frequently done in groups, which can increase safety and offer assistance in an emergency. To make sure that everyone is happy, effective group dynamics and communication are essential. Create explicit communication guidelines, talk about how decisions are made, and get some experience using radios and other communication tools. To reduce risks and quickly resolve any issues, keep a cohesive group dynamic and check in with each other on a regular basis.

???? First aid. In the backcountry, emergencies can arise at any time, so you need to make sure you are as prepared as possible. To keep in your backpack, locate or assemble a first aid kit that is fully supplied. Essentials like splints, bandages, and antiseptics should be included. Take a look at signing up for a wilderness first aid course to acquire fundamental medical knowledge appropriate for isolated and outdoor settings. Make sure you also have a trustworthy means of communication, like a satellite phone or an emergency beacon, so you can call for assistance in the event of a major emergency.

???? Leave no Trace. Respecting the Leave No Trace philosophy is crucial to protecting the wilderness and guaranteeing that future generations can enjoy it. These guidelines are:

  • think ahead and get ready;
  • go and set up camp on structurally sound terrain;
  • get rid of waste the proper way;
  • keep what you find and reduce the effects of campfires;
  • honor the wildlife;
  • show consideration for other guests.

Clues for Beginners

When deciding whether snowboarding is simpler for novices, there are a few factors to take into account. To begin with, snowboarding calls for coordination and balance. It could be more challenging to maintain your balance when snowboarding if you’re not used to coordinating your body movements. Secondly, snowboarding is a physically demanding sport that calls for a certain level of fitness. It could be more challenging for novices to keep up with the physical demands of snowboarding. 

It can be difficult for beginners to improve their snowboarding skills. However, you can become more skilled and enjoy the sport more with the right technique and practice. Here are some clues that novice snowboarders need to improve:

 

Put the basics first. Acquiring knowledge of the fundamental snowboarding skills is crucial if you’re just getting started. Learn how to stop, turn, and maintain your balance while riding your board. Once you master these fundamentals, you’ll have a strong base on which to grow.

Become at ease using your equipment. Before hitting the slopes, it’s crucial to make sure your snowboard and bindings fit properly. Make sure your bindings are just the right amount of snug but not too tight. Additionally, confirm that the snowboard is the appropriate size for you and that your boots are correctly laced.

Take some lessons. Learning from an experienced instructor is one of the best ways to improve your snowboarding skills. You’ll learn the right methods through lessons, allowing you to advance at your own speed.

Remain inspired. While learning how to snowboard, it can be simple to lose motivation, so it’s critical to maintain your positive attitude. Keep in mind that everyone learns differently and that improving requires patience and practice.

Be careful. Snowboarding is not always safe. When snowboarding, it’s easy to get hurt if you’re not careful. It’s crucial to ensure that you’re both mentally and physically ready before beginning a snowboarding session for these reasons. Having said that, there are a few benefits to becoming a snowboarder. Snowboarding is not only a lot of fun but also a fantastic form of exercise. It can be a great way to improve balance and coordination if you’re willing to try it out.

Conclusion

Snowboarders have cultivated a reputation as “bad boys” from the earliest poorly engineered snowboards to the sophisticated and specialized models on the market today. Even though snowboarding is popular with people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, it still has a reputation as a rebel sport. You can find snowboarding equipment, information, and lessons at the majority of large ski areas. Among the most popular winter sports are snowboarding competitions at the Olympic and international levels, where there is intense competition to be the best.

 

TDPel Media

This article was published on TDPel Media. Thanks for reading!

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