In 1960, a teenage boy named Tom Sims was a skateboard champion, but during icy winters he was unable to ride a skateboard. To solve this problem, he thought about an ice glider. At first he came out with a snurfer. You would stand on it as if it were a skateboard. But the front and back ends weren't raised on an angle like a skateboard. It was almost completely flat, except for the front that curved up and had a rope attached to it. Riders would hold the rope to steer. The main change, however, was that there were no wheels.
After a while, Tom thought about
a more attractive style for riding. So, in his 20's he designed the snowboard.
The front end was lowered and there was no rope. Instead, one had to balance
the board on the ground and in
the air like the skateboard.
But it was Jake Burton Carpenter who thought of the rubber foot holsters. That requires a snowboarder to wear boots and slip them into the holster. It was like wearing a shoe and locking your foot into a wheelless inline skate. He contacted Tom Sims and the sport of snowboarding was born!
Many snowboards were designed for different events: Wire for races, Freestyle for halfpipes and big airs, and Balance for the regular runs.
Races are straight dashes with a turn and two.
Halfpipes are straightaways with two hills on both sides. These hill aren't natural bumps. They are designed to throw you straight up. Some halfpipes are even dug into the ground in a shape like a topless funnel. A competitor has three tries and his/her top two scores are added together.
Big air's start with a downhill dash. Then the ground steeply hooks up, then stops! it is like flying off of a mountain. You do as many tricks as you can and then land on either flat land or a little bump! A competitor has three tries and his/her top two scores are added together.
Regular runs are wide tracks. They sometimes cut through forests! There are a lot of twists and turns. A competitor has only one run but it is a long one. In a professional event the longest one is only about 5 minutes long. This is not only point regulated, but is also a race with four other people too!
In the Olympics
Because snowboarding has become so popular around the world, the International Olympic Committee decided in 1994 to make it an Olympic sport. Snowboarding first appeared at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. The two events were the giant slalom, similar to the ski event, and halfpipe or freestyle event.
Since only 35 men/30 women for giant slalom and 35 men/20 women for halfpipe from all countries are allowed to compete at the Olympics the competition is fierce. U.S. snowboarders have been dominant in the sport so far (see below) and hope to do well at the next Winter Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The following U.S. athletes are among the top in their events:
Men's Boarder Cross: Jeff Greenwood
Women's Boarder Cross: Shannon Dunn
Men's Giant Slalom: Jeff Archibald Women's Giant Slalom: Sondra VanErt
Ian Price Lisa Kosglow
Men's Halfpipe: Ross Powers Women's Halfpipe: Kim Stacey
Tommy Czeschin Tricia Byrnes
Men's Super G: Jeff Archibald Women's Super G: Rosey Fletcher
Men's Slalom: Anton Pogue Women's Slalom: Rosey Fletcher