discover snowboarding

Discovering snowboarding

Let's be concise. Snowboarding is a sport involving sliding where effort and skill are rewarded with a tempting feeling of freedom.

Initially a game, snowboarding became a recognised and popular Olympic sport in the 1990s.
The many disciplines of snowboarding offer a very wide range of experiences involving sliding where physical effort is combined with pleasure.
Here, sensations win out over performance, the rules are more like guidelines designed to enjoy the joys of the mountain as quickly as possible, with the wind in your hair and your feet on the board.

1/ What is snowboarding?

A game that became a sport.

A plank of wood, a snowy descent, an idea. At the beginning of the 1920s, some American daredevils enjoyed riding on snow standing on a board. It started with skiers looking for new sliding sensations and new ways to get down from the snowy slopes, who started to develop alternative solutions to slide on the snow.  

In 1929 one of these innovators who made snowboarding history was a certain Mr Jack Burchett who had cut a board out of a sheet of plywood and tried to fasten the feet to it with horse bridles. The result was certainly far from snowboarding as we know it today, but Burchett would have been the first to make a snowboard. 

In 1964, Sherman Poppen took up the game again and turned it into a sport. He decided to create a board by tying two skis together and a rope at the front to make it easier to balance and not to lose it in the snow. His wife named him " Snurfer" (from the words snow and surf), and he developed the concept, organised competitions, and then sold 500,000 units between 1966 and 1976. An extraordinary invention that has inspired a generation of children by allowing them to surf on the snow.   

Developing international sport

In 1977, Jake Burton, founder of Burton snowboards, appeared at a snurfing competition with a snurfer to which he had attached bindings, to hold his feet in place. The snurfer’s quest for innovation began there.

Passionate about Snurfer, Jake Burton developed his own boards at the beginning of the 1980s using a polyethylene sole to glide easily and bindings to hold the feet in place. It was perhaps the first appearance of modern snowboarding.

Over the years, various designers have reshaped the Snurfer by creating different models with different names. Some improvements have made the Snurfers more flexible, such as improved foot straps and fastenings. However, it was only after years of research that this toy became used for sport. It was Burton's visit to Austria to visit some ski companies that triggered a radical intuition: the board needed to be inspired by the technology used to make skis. The P-Tex base first, the sandwich construction and then the squares brought snowboarding into its prime and introduced it to ski resorts as an internationally recognised sport.

Another fundamental factor was Jeff Grell's invention, in the early 1980s, of a rear spoiler for the binding, which allowed the board to ride on frozen snow with a much better sensation and response.
At the end of the 1980s, winter sports resorts began to develop areas suitable for snowboarding: snowparks. In Europe, the discipline's first competitions were held and its popularity grew until it became an Olympic discipline in 1998 at the Nagano Games.

Discover Snowboarding

The various disciplines of snowboarding

In France, competitive snowboarding is represented by the French Ski Federation. Half-pipe, parallel giant slalom, cross and slopestyle are Olympic disciplines. 
half-pipe is a half cylinder of snow in which snowboarders perform acrobatic tricks scored by five judges.
Parallel Giant Slalom is a two-round event in which two snowboarders compete against each other on parallel courses with gates to pass through. All as quickly as possible of course. These types of competitions are carried out along with directional alpine snowboards, and used with rigid boots such as those used with skis.
Cross involves four competitors competing against each other on a course marked out with obstacles (bumps, banked turns, jumps, etc.). The first two in each series move on to the next round to reach the final.
Slope style is a discipline that takes place in a snowpark where competitors perform tricks on snow features or rails. The difficulty here is to know how to perform well in stop-direction sequences.
Big-air is an XXL jump on which the riders do really spectacular tricks. The difficulty of the jump, the style, the creativity and the landing are graded.

snowboard rules

2/ The rules of snowboarding

To start snowboarding, a relaxed body with slightly bent legs and a soft torso and pelvis helps you gain stability and helps you guide your board. Turn by putting the weight on the front foot and then use your arms and shoulders to engage the rotation of the board. During frontside (toe side) turns, you can stretch your legs a little more. Conversely, when you do backside turns, bending your legs helps.

Also, on the slopes, watch out for people below you, they have priority. You must keep your distance when overtaking and to avoid staying in the middle of the track or behind a bump when taking a break. Finally, take a look at the weather forecast, find out about runway conditions and follow the instructions, markings and signs.

3/ Snowboarding: what are the benefits?

We must not neglect the power of the mountains. Its hilly relief gives you great descents where your snowboard sometimes clings on and sometimes floats on changing snow. Your entire body is in motion to guide a balanced drive, which increases your endurance, strengthens your muscles and works your body. Add to that the benefits of the outdoors on your morale and defence mechanisms, and the result is a sport that keeps you fit and smiling.

Before jumping straight on the chairlift, consult your doctor to make sure you have no contraindications.

4/ Snowboarding, is it for you?

Open the chalet door, take a deep breath of mountain air, breathe out a little mist in the cool morning air. The snow is fresh from the night before, the board is waiting for you calmly. You drink your coffee thinking about the lines left in all that white.

There you are, the board whistles through a gentle glide then the slope steepens, the turns are leave their marks one after the other, you feel a pull in your legs, your breathe more deeply, the pleasure sets in as the larch forests watch you and your friends. Doesn’t it feel good?

5/ The necessary equipment for snowboarding

Discover Snowboarding

A snowboard

If you are able to prepare a cheese fondue blindfolded and repair the lock of the ski locker with a bottle opener, you are as versatile as an "all mountain" board. Powder, piste, whatever the terrain, this wide and symmetrical board takes it all in its stride.

Are you planning to picnic every day in the snowpark? You need a “freestyle” board that is wide, soft and light for half-pipe and jumping.

Very similar to the "all mountain” board, the "freeride" board may also interest you. More solid and longer, for a ride that is both smooth and powerful, it is more suited to off-road use.
To ride in “pow pow“, we recommend a "swallow" board. Its tail shaped like a swallow’s tail and its longer, streamlined front tip ride better in powdery snow.

Finally, if you like to make curves on the slopes and have a feeling of speed while carving, the long, narrow and asymmetrical shape of alpine surfing will meet your expectations.

Discover Snowboarding

A pair of boots and a pair of bindings

There are two types of boots, two disciplines, two philosophies, two ways of looking at life. Softboots are flexible, adaptable to freeride and freestyle boards and the hardboots are rigid and are used for alpine surfing.

Fasteners are also divided into two categories, plates and shells.
Plate bindings require rigid footwear and are generally used for alpine surfing. Shell bindings are used with softboots and are suitable for freestyle, freeride and swallow snowboarding.

And of course, wear waterproof and breathable gloves or mittens. Same for your trousers. Use the three-layer technique ( for comfort and the helmet, or even knee and wrist guards to keep safety in mind. 

Do you like the sound of the board cutting through the snow? Share your snowboarding experiences with us in the comments!

Decathlon photo editor


DREAMSCAPE communication team, instructor and passionate about snowboarding. 

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