The type and style of snowboarding is determined by the equipment and gear being used and where the ride takes place.
Otherwise known as ‘all mountain Snowboarding’, it is all about learning an all-round style that gives you the independence to ride, carve and jump on any terrain. Beginners can start with the freeriding style as it only focusses on the enjoyment of the ride rather than being technical.
Equipment’s generally used in freeriding are soft snowboard boots, plate bindings and strap or flow-in bindings. Freeriding snowboards are relatively longer boards with a narrower width and deeper side cut.
It is the most popular type of snowboarding for its thrills and tricks of the sport. Freestyle focusses on jumps, tricks, rail slides, halfpipes and switch riding. It is more suitable for professionals as the techniques are mostly aerial. Snowboarders use softer boots to reduce weight for easier manoeuvring in the air and the snowboards are shorter, lighter and softer with the tail and tip identical in shape.
Also known as Alpine Snowboarding, it is all about speed and the ultimate carving turn in snowboarding. Freecarve takes place on hard pack and groomed runs and requires little or no jumping but demands a lot of strength and concentration.
Freecarve snowboarding is a sport that takes place at the Olympics and requires the rider to manoeuvre around gates and poles. Freecarve snowboards are usually longer, narrower and stiffer to provide stability and edge-holding ability during high-speed descents. Riders use plate binding hard snowboard boots which are similar to ski boots but are less stiff around the ankles.
Riders can go skiing and snowboarding at the same time with the same piece of equipment in splitboarding. Splitboard has the same shape and construction like a normal snowboard, however it is designed to split apart into two to use as skis.
The board comes with a ‘ride mode’ and ‘ski mode’ interface which the rider can easily switch in between. The change only takes 1 to 2 minutes and is done by unlatching the tips and tails of the snowboard and moving the bindings from ride mode to ski mode. The next step is to apply the climbing skins attached to the side of the board and proceed with skinning. Switching the board back to ride mode entails the same steps but in reverse. The dual use of the splitboard allows the rider to climb the slopes like a skier and ride downhill like a snowboarder.
Splitboard provides flotation, gliding ability and ease of use when carrying a backpack. A special feature is the climbing skins located on the underside of the splitboards which guarantees traction while on the mountain.
If you are unsure of the type to choose, begin with freeriding and get accustomed to the feeling of snowboarding. Before you invest in any equipment, decide what type of snowboarder you are or interested in becoming.
Since its inception as an established winter sport, snowboarding has developed into various styles, each with its own particular equipment and techniques. Every style of snowboarding has a separate group of fans, community and competitions.
This technical style involves performing tricks on non-standard surfaces. The moves and tricks are evident in the name itself ‘jib’ which as a noun means metal rails, boxes, benches, concrete ledges, walls, vehicles, rocks and logs. As a verb it means jumping, sliding and riding on top of objects. It is basically freestyle snowboarding and takes place not only on the snow but in an urban setting as well.
Rail Jam is a major jib event and riders perform tricks on rails, boxes, pipes, wall rides and several other creative features. The score is done in the jam format, where riders can take as many runs as they want within the given time frame.
This style involves performing tricks while going downhill on a course. The course is generally filled with obstacles such as boxes, rails, jumps and jibs. The slopestyle competitions allows the rider to choose their own line in a terrain park and in order to win, the rider must pick the most difficult line and perform a smooth routine of tricks performed on the obstacles.
Riders that go for the Big Air style perform tricks after launching off a man-made jump, built specifically for it. Riders perform tricks in mid-air while attempting to achieve sizable height and distance and finish off with a smooth landing. Performers are judged based on the height and distance attained during the launch and the difficulty of the tricks showcased in the air.
This style is performed in a semi-circular ditch dug into the mountains or purpose built ramp made up of snow with walls. Riders perform tricks while going from one side to the other and while in the air above the sides of the pipe.
Also known as ‘Boarder X’ and ‘Snowboard X’, it is relatively a new addition in the snowboarding industry. In 2006, it earned its place as an official Winter Olympic sport. In Boardercross , a number of riders race down a course similar to a motorcycle motocross track. The course is filled up with several obstacles and results in accidental collisions as the riders use the same terrain unlike traditional head to head races.
Big Mountain is performed in an open terrain where riders face the challenge to find their way down the mountain with the most style and difficulty. Competitions for this style of snowboarding takes place in powder snow conditions in closed off areas of resorts or the backcountry.
Snowboard Racing requires the rider to complete a downhill course constructed of a series of turning indicators which are in the form of gates. These gates consist of a tall pole and a short pole connected by a triangular panel which are placed at a prescribed distance in the snow. The rule is that the rider must pass around the short side of the gate.
There are two types of snowboard racing at the Olympics such as the Parallel Slalom and Parallel Giant Slalom. In Parallel Slalom, riders race downhill through sets of gates which require tight and quick technical turns while racing against other opponent in the other course. On the other hand, Parallel Giant Slalom is similar to the Parallel Slalom but has a much longer course consisting of gates set further apart requiring higher speed.