Snowboarding began in 1965 when an engineer in Michegan, invented a toy for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. Dubbed the “snurfer”. In the early 1970s, In 1979, the first ever World Snurfing Championship was held near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake Burton Carpenter, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own design. There were many protests from the competitors about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, the top snurfer at the time, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A “modified” division was created and won by Jake as the sole entrant. That race was considered the first competition for snowboards and is the start of what has now become competitive snowboarding.
During the 1970s and 1980s as snowboarding became more popular, pioneers came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that slowly developed into the snowboards and other related equipment that we know today. In 1982, the first National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont, at Suicide Six. The race was won by Burton’s first team rider Doug Bouton.
In 1983, the first World Championship halfpipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California. Tom Sims, founder of Sims Snowboards, organized the event with the help of Mike Chantry, a snowboard instructor at Soda Springs.
Snowboarding’s growing popularity is reflected in its recognition as an official sport: in 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria. The International Snowboard Federation (ISF) was founded in 1990 to provide universal contest regulations.
Initially, ski areas adopted the sport at a much slower pace than the winter sports public. Indeed, for many years, there was animosity between skiers and snowboarders, which led to an ongoing skier vs snowboarder feud. Early snowboards were banned from the slopes by park officials. For several years snowboarders would have to take a small skills assessment prior to being allowed to ride the chairlifts. It was thought that an unskilled snowboarder would wipe the snow off of the mountain. In 1985, only seven percent of U.S. ski areas allowed snowboarding, with a similar proportion in Europe. As equipment and skills improved, gradually snowboarding became more accepted. In 1990, most major ski areas had separate slopes for snowboarders. Now, approximately 97% of all ski areas in North America and Europe allow snowboarding, and more than half have jumps, rails and half pipes.
Since snowboarding’s inception as an established winter sport, it has developed various styles, each with its own specialized equipment and technique. The most common styles today are: freeride, freestyle, and freecarve/race. These styles are used for both recreational and professional snowboarding. While each style is unique, there is overlap between them.
Jib is both a noun and a verb, depending on the usage of the word. As a noun: a jib includes metal rails, boxes, benches, concrete ledges, walls, vehicles, rocks and logs. As a verb: to jib is referring to the action of jumping, sliding or riding on top of objects other than snow. It is directly influenced by grinding a skateboard. Jibbing is a freestyle snowboarding technique of riding.Typically jibbing occurs in a snowboard resort park but can also be done in urban environments.
Freeride snowboarders also commonly find incidental jibs, such as a downed tree, that prove suitable to ride over in the course of their line or run.
To master freeriding is to seamlessly merge aspects of other snowboarding disciplines such as freestyle and alpine snowboarding into an all-around style – giving you the freedom to make the most of whatever terrain comes your way. Whereas freestyle snowboarding relies on the use of man-made terrain such as jumps, rails and half-pipes, and alpine snowboarding is done on groomed snow – the focus of freeriding is on utilising the random flow of natural terrain.
Freeride equipment generally comprises a stiffer boot/binding combination and a stiffer, directional snowboard: since the freeride style may encounter many different types of snow conditions, such as ice and deep powder, a stiffer setup is recommended to maintain stability in deeper snow and at higher speeds.
In freestyle, the rider utilizes man-made installations such as rails, jumps, boxes, and innumerable other innovative features to perform tricks such as downed trees or boulders. The term “box” refers to an object with a slick top, usually of polyethylene (HDPE), that the rider can slide on with the base of their board. Like all freestyle features, boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. The intent of freestyle is to use these features to perform a number of aerial or jib tricks. The term “jib” refers to the rider doing a slide or press on an object not made of snow. This most commonly refers to tricks done on boxes, rails, or even trees.
The equipment used in freestyle is usually a soft boot with a twin tipped board for better balance while riding regular or switch, though free-ride equipment is often used successfully. The most common binding stance used in freestyle is called “duck foot”, in which the trailing foot has a negative degree of arc setup while the leading foot is in the positive range i.e. +12°/-9°. Freestyle riders who specialize in jibbing often use boards that are shorter than usual, with softer flex and filed down edges. Shorter length enables the board to be rotated faster, and a softer flex requires less energy for a rider to press a feature. Reverse camber boards, or better known as rocker boards, are most often used as freestyle boards due to their softer flex and inverted ‘camber’ design. Pressing refers to a type of jib where the rider leans heavily toward the nose or tail of their board- causing the opposite end of their board to lift off of the feature they are sliding on. This trick is typically done for added style. Freestyle also includes halfpipe tricks. A halfpipe (or “pipe”) is a trench-like half-tube made of snow. Tricks performed may be rotations such as a 360° (a full turn) in the air, or an off-axis spin like a “McTwist”. Tricks can be modified while hitting different features.
GB Snowsport (GBS) is the national governing body for snowsports in the UK, managing elite British teams and the development pathway for those athletes.
GBS select, manage and lead British teams to international events, promote participation in FIS and World Para snowsports disciplines, and provide opportunities for our athletes to achieve their full potential as individuals and as a team.
In July 2018, GBS took on responsibilities for Parasnowsports including Alpine, Nordic and Snowboard, while it continues to licence competitors in Alpine, Cross Country, Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding, Telemark, Speed Skiing and Ski Jumping. Over 350 athletes are registered with GBS and compete in international events, and the organisation works closely with Clubs, Academies and the Home Nations to provide opportunities for aspiring international athletes.