Snowboarding in the Olympics
The beginnings of snowboarding first emerged around the 1970’s. However, the popularity for this sport, which uses a board strapped to both feet facing the same direction, has increased just within the past 2 decades. Even within the past fives years, more and more people are becoming fans of snowboarding. Because of the increase in popularity snowboarding has received, it became declared an Olympic sport in 1994.
The first games to debut snowboarding as an Olympic event was in Nagano, Japan in 1998. Halfpipe and Giant Slalom were the only 2 events for this Olympic game. In the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah the event of giant slalom was replaced with an event called parallel slalom and the halfpipe was replaced with a bigger one called superpipe.
The original two events were to show the extreme differences in snowboard styles. The style of boarding for the giant or parallel slalom is called alpine. Alpine snowboarding is a niche of snowboarding, which uses special carving and race-oriented snowboards and equipment to focus on making clean, smooth turns. These boarders are not trying to perform tricks or fancy maneuvers while on their boards. Halfpipe or superpipe is using the style called freestyle. Freestyle is practiced by most of the snowboarding population. It focuses on performing tricks or stunts while on a board. The rider performs these tricks and stunts on a halfpipe or superpipe which is a U shaped channel cut into snow. The walls can vary from 11′ to 17′ depending on the kind of pipe. The rider rocks from each side of the pipe in order to become airborne to perform tricks.
In the 2006 Olympic games in Turino, Italy, a new event has been added in addition to the others mentioned. It is called snowboard cross also known as boardercross. This event includes 4 riders racing downhill over bumps, jumps, berms and the riders typically have contact at times with each other. It is an aggressive event for the Olympic games. Competition is quite fierce as riders wear full face helmets and it is not rare to see riders collide into one another.
With the first snowboard literally made from a piece of wood and clothesline, it has made such an impression on mountain sports. Even though at one point, ski resorts refused snowboarders onto their slopes, snowboarding has increased the traffic on slopes overall. Snowboarding really has come a long way in such a short period of time. With the increase in popularity with the younger generation, it has made its way to the Olympic games.