The Evolution of Snowboarding
by James Moore
Although the rains are pouring – and boy are they pouring – over the East Coast, Colorado, Arizona and even the usually sunshine-baked state of New Mexico, it’s important to note that the snowy weather is just waiting in the wings.
The rains have been so heavy, they’re bringing with them some severe humidity that makes the steam rise from the grass and the deer look more than a little weary, waiting for the cold air to come rushing back in. So while people are baking in the rain this month, perhaps it’s a good time to bring up those wintry days when the Nature Enthusiast will find time to hit the slopes.
Although skiing is the most popular sport when it comes to the winter months, snowboarding has been climbing in popularity over the last few years.
Back in 1965, the first snowboard came into being – looking just like a surfboard combined with a large snow-ski. This was referred to as the Snurfer. Over the years that name was replaced with the Skeeter and the Snodad among others; but snowboarding is definitely no joke.
Jake Burton Carpenter is given credit by most as being the true inventor of snowboarding. But it wasn’t until 1981, when French skiers/surfers Augustin Coppey, Olivier Lehaneur, Olivier Roland and Antoine Yarmola made their first successful attempt at the sport that snowboarding came into being.
These skateboard-shaped wooden-boards were actually equipped with aluminum fins, foot-straps and leashes. But the technology has certainly grown, with the snowboard now being made from fiber composite boards fitted with polyethylene soles, edges made of steel and modified ski boot shells.
Snowboarding was spoken about a great deal in 1985. Oddly enough, it was all because 007 took to the slopes on a snowboard to escape Soviet agents in the James Bond flick, “A View To A Kill.”
From a sport that began so small and silent, it’s almost amazing the pinnacle its risen to over the years. Not long ago – in 2008 – the sellers and suppliers of snowboarding equipment were beyond thrilled when this very small sport turned into a massive $487 million industry. And it hasn’t stopped growing since. Of course, there are many types of snowboarding that people can try; and with the Olympics seeing snowboarding as an actual sport now, more and more people are rushing out to learn the skills needed, and to buy up the expensive gear in order to ditch their traditional skis.
Alpine snowboarding is only taken on by some. Reason being, alpine snowboarding is a little more than most can handle. This is snowboarding at its cleanest, not fastest; the goal is smooth turns as you continually move forward. But the alpine term doesn’t actually mean the snowboarder must climb the highest mountains and risk their lives. In fact, alpine simply means that the snowboarder is wearing hardboots, which are gear that offer the most efficient and well-timed turns.
If you’re one who’s up for very cool competitions, however; it’s Boardercross that’s actually as thrilling and dangerous as motocross events. With this type, snowboarders begin atop an inclined course and race to reach the finish line first. These courses are extremely tough. Very narrow with hairpin turns, the snowboarder must also complete a variety of jumps and drops over steep and flat sections of the course. These are built to offer the most difficult challenges to the rider while they work to maintain maximum speed.
Boardercross was part of the Winter X Games from 1997-2012, and it was this one snowboarding type that officially became an Olympic sport in 2006.
It all began with the Snurfer, and with the constant evolution of the sport it will be interesting to see what comes next for the snowboarding community.
So as you sit in your living room with the monsoon outside and the steamy air filtering through every window, think about that cold, white snow that will be arriving faster than you think. Or…simply put in your DVD and watch 007 in rare form and think about taking up the sport of snowboarding.
After all, if the Snurfer was good enough for Bond, it’s good enough for you!
Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle Series / Baret News Wire