Snowboarding History

Snowboarding history has spanned just thirty short years. From humble beginnings on homemade equipment to its surging popularity as one of the most popular sports in the world, snowboarding has undergone an incredible transformation in that time. The sport has expanded from a core group of pioneering adventure seekers, with new riders hitting the slopes every day. How did the sport explode onto the scene so quickly? Read below for a short history of snowboarding.

Though it's up for discussion, most people consider Jake Burton to be the father of snowboarding. As the founder of Burton Snowboards, the company's namesake created many of the first boards to hit the slopes. Working from a very basic design called a snurf (a pretty unsophisticated version of a surfboard), Burton introduced bentwood laminate and bindings, which allowed the rider to control movement using his or her body weight. Other "snurfers" were outraged when he brought his new and improved board to competitions, and he was forced to compete in an entirely separate race. As the sole entrant, he blew away the rest of the crowd.

Eventually, of course, the rest of the "snurfing" community embraced his design improvements (and dropped the silly name!), and the sport quickly grew in popularity. The next step was overcoming the ambivalence of skiers-a battle that is still ongoing today. Indeed, it was only this year that Alta Resort in Utah opened up the slopes to boarders! As the revolution grew, many skiers found their children turning to snowboards, and the rest is history. Today, there are approximately five million snowboarders across the world, shredding the slopes year round.

The 1980s saw the real explosion in snowboarding history, with the advent of serious competition. The first was the initial National Snowboard race, held in Vermont in 1982. Only three years later, the sport had already become an American export, with an international race in Austria. By the mid-1990s, things had really picked up with the introduction of the X Games, a sponsored bonanza of extreme sports that features death-defying jumps and tricks.

Another important player in the evolution of snowboarding was the introduction of film into the sport. In the late 1980s, riders began to take video cameras into the backcountry, shooting incredible scenes of 60 foot drops off cliffs. In many ways, these rides are even more impressive than the huge air attained on the half pipe and in parks. If you're interested, the seminal film in this genre is First Descent, starring Shaun White, Nick Perata, and Terje Haakonsen. Don't try these stunts at home!

Today, snowboarding has finally been accepted as a legitimate sport, and it's even prominently featured in the Olympics. Kids young and old can be seen shredding down the hill, enjoying the thrill of speed as they huck huge tricks over jumps and rails. To join the revolution, all you have to do is head to the local mountain, rent a board, and hop on the lift. Great exercise and a wonderful time are waiting!

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