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Snowboarding is a sport that is loosely described as “surfing” in the snow and can be dated back to at least the 1960s in its earliest development, when it was a much cruder sport with very elementary equipment. However, when snowboarding made its debut at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, it became one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. It now holds the interest of over 7 million participants in the U.S. alone, and many skiers and skateboarders have crossed over to this no longer crude extreme sport.
After snowboarding debuted in the 1998 Olympics with two events, it returned in the 2002 and 2006 Olympic games. In Italy in 2006, it consisted of four events in both men’s and women’s competition. The sport is slated to continue to grow in both participants and popularity for future winter games. As a professional sport, it is governed by the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF).
Snowboarding, like skiing, is a winter sport that’s difficult to participate in where snow is not prevalent. However, most ski resorts in the United States also have slopes dedicated to it. There is less gear required than for skiing, with the board being the primary piece of equipment. Burton is the most popular board company, started by sport pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter in the late 1970s.
Styles of snowboarding include freeride and freestyle, which describes the most popular form of the sport and includes jumps, spins, and other tricks, as well as the wildly popular halfpipe. Freestyle allows snowboarders to showcase their skills and maneuverability, especially on the halfpipe. It is the most generalized style and involves simply making one’s way down the decent of slopes or mountainsides. Many resorts maintain freestyle parks with rails and halfpipes, as well as freeride slopes for beginning to advanced snowboarders. While snowboarding holds the image of a “rebel” youth male sport, the sport appeals to men and women alike in many age ranges, and beginners continue to enter the sport at all stages in life.
Though it is popular as a competitive sport, snowboarding has also become a popular activity for those who enjoy getting outdoors in the winter. Just remember that snowboards can be dangerous if you aren't familiar with the sport, and take it slow if you are new to this unique winter sport. Having the right snowboard gear is also important when you take to the snow-covered hills.