It is difficult to determine who invented the first
snow-sliding device, however, there is evidence that
sliding devices were used in the Neolithic period before
the invention of the wheel. In ancient Egypt, blocks of
stone were hauled on sleds or sledges. The simplest form of
the sledge is a board turned up in front, as in the
toboggan. The Eskimo used dogsledges in pre-Columbian
The Snowboard originated when M. J. Burchett cut out a
plank of plywood and secured his feet with a clothesline
and horse reigns. In 1969, Sherman Poppen, improved this
device by tying two skis together and putting a rope at the
nose so that the rider could hold it and keep it more
stable. He called it a "Snurfer."
The next stage occurred in 1977, when Jake Burton began
building different version of the Snurfer. His first
sow-board was made of laminated hardwood and had bindings.
The present day version can be attributed to Tom Sims who
is mass producing the item.
Skiers and snowboarders don't get along on the mountain.
They are generally separated by age, fashion, etiquette,
lingo and per capital income. Norm Sayler of Donner Ski
Ranch in Donner Summit, Calf says he can tell the
difference between a snowboarder and a skier on the phone.
"Are you open?" The caller asks. "If it is a skier, the
next question will be, 'How cold is it?'" Sayler Says.
"Then, 'Are the trails groomed?.... What's the color of the
snow?... What are the road conditions like?... You can be
on the phone for 2 1/2 hours with these people." Some of
his other calls go like this: "Hey, dude, you open?" "Yes."
Click. "Now that, Sayler says, "Is a snowboarder."
Snowboarder culture is similar to that of surfers and
skateboarders. Snowboarding is popular with the X
generation and they usually have body piercing (tongues,
nipples), baggy clothes, different talk and attitude.
Skiers are deathly afraid of snowboarders. As Greg Ralph
stated "Just their clothes scare us to death." They have an
endless supply of stores about the lunatic boarders who
have cut them off. They claim snowboarders have no respect
for skiers. Snowboarders don't bite, although some skiers
are to afraid to get close enough to find out. Give
snowboarders some room. "They are no more crude, crass or
threatening than any group any group in which three
quarters of the members are males under the age of
25."(Sinanoglu) There may be a huge clash between
snowboarders and skiers, but the sports are not all that
To some people skiing and snowboarding are the same sports,
each with a range of technique and goals. "The two sports
are more similar to each other, than they are to their own
sport. What are commonly thought to be inherent differences
between the sports are actually just different aspects of
the same sport."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "
Carve board with hardboots, forward stance:
The mechanics of using a carve board are very much like
those of using 'carving skis' (i.e. parabolic or super
sidecut). For similar big sweeping turns, these skis are
turned by transitioning to an edge, NOT by a pole plant.
From the waist up, the skier/boarder's body positions were
nearly indistinguishable. But relatively few boarders ride
carve boards, whereas most skiers aspire to carve.
Shorty skis, with double ends.
This isn't seen much any more, though some of it survives
in 'ski ballet'. But a few years back there was a mini fad
with these; the object was to do spins, go backwards, other
acrobatic tricks. (There were no terrain parks in those
It is perfectly easy to make such turns on skis without
pole plants. It's a common training exercise for a skier to
hold the poles horizontally across his/her chest/waist and
make various turns without planting (mostly to practice
proper upper body position). The mechanics of the board are
not that different, when compared to a skier making 'big
turns'. Of course some skiers make a lot of very short,
quick turns. They do use their poles to help initiate (the
old technique of plant and turn around the pole is
generally obsolete). If a boarder wanted to make that kind
of turn maybe poles would help.
The pole plant is often used and needed to start abrupt,
sharp turns in soft snow which handicaps rotation. Few
boarders ride that type of terrain. It's hard to get those
kinds of turns off on edge transitions and body english
alone. ( http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html)
The sports overlap greatly. When people remark 'that's just
skiing on a board" keep in mind that the opposite is, "it's
just boarding on skis". What is "skiing" vs. "boarding"
anyway? Getting down the terrain making a certain type of
turn is both. It is what type of terrain and what type of
turn it is, and what controls the mechanics, and not just
"Is that ski or board technique?"
Snowboarding is easier to learn then skiing, but harder to
master. Skiing is harder to learn but easier to master.
There are three styles of boarding, Alpine, Freeride, and
Freestyle. "Alpine snowboarding value the carved turn,
racing, competition, and some tricks. Freestyle includes
halfpipe (a trench used for tricks) riding, and trick
maneuvers favored by those young and radical. Freeriding
barrows from both Alpine and Freestyle."(Bennett 8) It is
the most popular style today.
Usually people that are learning start off with the
Freeriding style, then as their boarding experience grows,
their boarding style changes to what they are most
interested in. Before they start learning how to board,
they need to find the correct equipment.
"The length of a board is directly proportional to a
person's weight, height, and the snow conditions of the
mountain. As a rule, the heavier and taller the person, the
longer the board. Someone that is 6 feet 4 inches tall and
weighs 185 pounds will have a very hard time riding a 149
cm. board in any snow condition. A rider who is 5 feet tall
and weighs 100 pounds can have a great time on a 149 cm.
board in all conditions." (http://www.solsnowboarding.com)
Snow conditions play an important role in choosing the
length of a board. . Riders who live in Southern
California, the Midwest and the East Coast should choose a
smaller board to compensate for the lack of deeper snow.
Riders in other areas of the country who are blessed with
deep snow and large mountains need different equipment.
These riders should ride a longer board with a wide tip and
tail so that the board can float on top of deeper snow.
Determining the right width for the board is easy-it's in
the feet. Riders with large feet require a wider board than
riders with small feet. It is important to find a board
that will allow to have feet centered on the board, side by
side, with the toes over the toe side edge and the heels
over the heel side edge. This will give the right amount of
leverage that is needed to set the board on edge when
turning. "A board that is too wide won't allow for sharp,
powerful turns. A board that is too narrow will cause the
boots to drag in the snow when making sharp turns."
The flexibility of a new snowboard is very hard to
determine in a store. To test the board, strap into the
board on carpet. Once on the board, rock up and down on the
tip and tail of the board to see how stiff or flexible it
is. The flex should be consistent throughout the board. You
don't want a board with any noticeable inconsistencies in
the flex. Some boards are designed with stiffer sections in
the tip and tail to allow for better snap when jumping;
this is a good feature but it is not for everyone. All
boards will perform differently on snow than they do in the
store, but this tests will give you a pretty good idea of a
board's flex. As a rule, a "stiffer" board will ride better
on harder snow, while a "softer" board will rider better on
Larger people need stiffer longer boards. Shorter boards
are more maneuverable.
The price of a new board can range anywhere from $250-500.
Find a few boards from different companies that have the
right length, width, and flex and compare the prices. The
boards that suit styles will come in a wide price range.
The reason for the wide range is "each company uses
different materials in producing their boards and these
materials will determine the price. Board weight is a
significant factor in determining price. Companies make
costly modifications to the core of the board in order to
make it lighter. Most companies use lighter wood or
fiberglass combined with exotic materials (Kevlar, rubber,
carbon) to make the board lighter. These materials are very
expensive and will drive up the cost of a board. A lighter
board is desirable because it will be easier to maneuver
and has a livelier feel." (altavista.digital.com)
"Many of next years boards will Look much different. Not
only are graphics brighter and more innovative, but the
top-sheets of many boards will no longer be smooth and
flat. Expanding upon the trend started by K2 with the
visible "torsion forks" in this year's "Zeppelin," the tops
of many different brands of boards will have a "relief"
appearance. These undulations cover "forks, rods, and
aluminum honeycomb" which are suppose to suggest the
presence of some type of special (magical?) internal
structure that will enhance a board's performance. This is
a marketing and construction trend that the Alpine ski
industry has used for over two
"Some of next year's FreeRide and FreeStyle boards will be
shipped with "4000 Grade Graphite" bases. These are jet
black (sorry no graphic opportunities) and have previously
only been used on high-end race boards and Alpine skis.
They are noticeably faster and more "slippery" than
traditional 2000 grade sintered bases."(
"Another change for next year is the complete
standardization of the "4x4" metric insert pattern by all
companies, except Burton. The last hold-outs, Ride's
"Preston" pattern, and Libtech & Gnu's "4/20" threads will
be history."( http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html)
"Another change will be the relatively common use of "Cap"
construction. This eliminates the separate "side wall"
found in traditional "sandwich" designs. Contrary to what
you may have heard, Cap construction actually reduces the
cost of building a board! The use of light weight cores is
continuing. Burton showed it's "FL Project" FreeStyle board
(approx. 150 cm) which weighs an incredible 3.5 lb. yet has
a full-length wood core! (a standard board of this size is
about 6.5 lb..) Sims is using Hexcel aluminum honeycomb
(borrowed from the ski industry) in the tip/tail of its
"Project Hex" boards."
Finding the right pair of boots is one of the hardest
things to do because everyone's foot is different. What may
feel good to a friend, may be excruciatingly painful to
someone else. Some people have strange misconceptions about
fit. One of the biggest is that people have to wear more
than one pair of socks. That is absolutely wrong. Boots
should fit snugly. It is all right if toes are grazing the
ends, but make sure they aren't jammed. Most boots have
very technical materials in them designed to keep feet
warm. "Many companies use Thinsulate in the boots or
neoprene liners for added warmth."(
www.heckler.com/snowback.html) If you are trying on boots
and need to wear two pairs of socks, try a size smaller.
After the boots break in a little they will feel a lot
Another thing to watch out for is heel lift. The heel
should lift as little as possible inside the liner. If you
have a little lift in the store, you are going to have a
lot more on the snow. Too much heel lift will make your
foot rise up in the boot and make toe side turns sloppy.
"Make sure that the heel cup of the boot fits snugly and
secure around ankles and heels. Some boots have external or
internal heel support straps. These straps can make all the
difference in the world when it comes to eliminating heel
lift. If you buy a pair of boots and they feel good in the
store, strap into a board and rock back and forth. If it is
getting a little lift try an after-market heel retention
strap. These straps should eliminate 50 percent of any lift
that you have."
For people, toe drag is a major factor to consider. Look
for boots that have upturned toes and heels. These boots
look like the front and back parts of the soles have been
shaved away for minimal drag. You want to stay away from
squared off, hiking boot-style soles. The old square style
boot will give you way too much toe and heel drag.
Some other things to look for in a good boot are waterproof
uppers and lowers. "If the boots aren't waterproofed at the
factory buy some waterproofing wax and do it yourself . Be
sure to look at where the leather or synthetic upper meets
the rubber lower of the boot. Bend it a little bit and look
for any gaps in this area. Some poorly constructed boots
will have small gaps in that area." Stay away from those
boots, they leak.
Finding the right bindings is just as hard as finding the
right boots. Right now, "there are three main choices when
it comes to FreeStyle bindings: strap, baseless and
step-in."(www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Strap bindings
have come a long way over the years. What was once a form
of medieval foot torture is now as comfortable as
skateshoes. Look for bindings that have a lot of padding on
the straps. This will save some pain after a hard day of
riding. If you are into a lot of park/pipe riding look for
bindings that have a lower highback. This will give you
more lateral flex and allow you to tweak harder. If all
mountain riding is your forte, then go with a higher
highback. This will give more heelside support and those
powder turns. Highbacks that have forward lean adjusters
are a bonus."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html)
"Three years ago several companies introduced "baseless"
binding systems. These designs place the sole of the
rider's boot in direct contact with the snowboard deck by
eliminating the binding's base plate. It also lowers the
sole height by up to 1/8". Most baseless bindings are far
more difficult to adjust (stance angle/width) than
traditional "4x4" designs. They aggravate "toe drag"
problems for people with large
feet."(www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Baseless bindings
came about for riders who wanted to be as close to the deck
of the board as possible. Being closer to the deck allows
you to "feel" the flex of the board a little better. Park
and pipe guys really jumped on this trend because they can
have a quicker edge to edge response. "Lately, baseless
bindings have sort of faded into the shadow of the latest
in binding technology: the step-in."(
"Step-in bindings have been around for a few years, in one
form or another, but they exploded onto the scene last
winter. The concept is simple. The boots fit directly onto
the binding without using any straps. Step-in bindings
allow riders to get onto their board with relative ease.
There are over twenty companies producing step-in systems
this year. Each company has their own style as to how you
get in, but the concept is basically the same. If you are
interested in riding step-in bindings make damn sure that
the boots fit you really well. If the boots don't fit, it's
not like you can just tighten your straps because there
aren't any. Systems like the Clicker, by K2, and Switch use
boots with plastic "highback" inside the boots. At first
the boots feel really strange but stick with them because
they get more comfortable as you ride. Other companies,
like the Device, use almost unmodified soft boots in their
systems. These boots feel like regular 'ol soft boots and
don't feel as weird as some of the other step-in systems."(
www.heckler.com/snowback.html) It is always best to try out
the equipment before it is bought. Most stores let people
try it out first. Try out as many boots and bindings as
possible to assure the best system possible.
This season we are seeing the continuing development of a
totally new type of boot/board (binding) interface. "These
new systems utilize specialized boots with integral binding
plates in their soles which attach directly to a companion
bracket on a regular snowboard using either a "4x4" or
"3-D" inset system. They permit the rider to "Step-Into"
(fasten to) the board directly without the use of the
straps which have been used before."
"None of the boots and bindings in the following systems
are interchangeable. You buy the boot and the binding as a
set for about $300+. Some of the special boots, most
notably "Switch", may not fit in traditional strap-in
bindings as their mounting brackets protrude outward from
the sides of the boot. This could make borrowing or
"demoing" boards equipped with traditional "strap" bindings
difficult. Also, with the exception of the "Device" system,
the high-back is built into the boot. This means that most
step-in boots are much stiffer than regular "soft boots."
The bindings used for hard boots are commonly referred to
as "plate" units. Most are simple in design, since as you
will recall; snowboard bindings don't contain a safety
release function. This season at least one manufacturer
(Burton) will be offering a step-in model which will
further speed the entry and exit
Learning to snowboard is the most dangerous part to
snowboarding. Beginners are more likely to fracture a bone,
just the opposite of skiers. "The most vulnerable point is
the wrist. Boarders are 7 times more likely to break it
then skiers because they use their hands to break their
falls."(Sinanoglu) Snowboarding may be the hottest sport
this winter, but increasing injury rates could make it one
of the most dangerous. "The injuries sustained by
snowboarders are primarily to the wrist, forearm, and
ankle. Snowboarders unusual stance - both feet facing
sideways in non-releasable bindings - is one of the factors
contributing to the injuries. In the position, the only way
for the snowboarder to fall is directly forward or backward
onto their outstretched hands. The rider can not reposition
to break the fall and the entire impact of the fall is
absorbed by the outstretched hands. The non-releasable
bindings also may be a leading cause of the ankle injuries.
The force that normally allows a ski boot to release from
its binding is absorbed by the ankle in a non releasable
system. The design of the boots worn by snowboarders may
contribute to the high rate of ankle injures. The
soft-shelled boots worn by snowboarders allow a more free
range of motion of the ankles than the hard shelled boots
worn by alpine skiers. There is less torsion force
concentrated at the knee, but more hyperextension and
hyperflexion forces across the ankle. Alpine skiers are
three times more likely to get a knee injury than
snowboarders. On the other hand, snowboarders are twice as
likely to get an ankle injury. Wrist and forearm fractures
are more then four times as prevalent in snowboarders then
skiers. Some of these injuries can be prevented by buying
guards and padded clothing." (
Knowing how to repair and maintain the board can save lots
of money and risk of being injured and stranded on the
mountain. Waxing is important to keeping it in good shape.
"There are six basic tools you need to wax your board
Scraper, Base Cleaner, Wax, Iron, Scotch Brite Pad, Cork
Block."(Bennett) You can pick up all the tools you need to
wax your board at your local snowboard or ski shop.
"The first step in waxing your board is removing your old
wax. If your wax is thick, use your scraper to remove the
bulk of it, then spray base-cleaner and wipe it clean. The
second step is to melt the wax on with the iron (not too
thick), then iron the wax evenly over the entire base, and
let it cool. The third step is once the wax is cool, scrape
it with a snowboard scraper. Do not use a metal scraper as
it will remove all the wax. After you do this, use a Scotch
Brite pad and wipe the bottom of your board."(Bennett)
Now, according to some manuals, you are done. But if you
take a cork and rub the remaining wax firmly into the base
of your board, your wax will last longer. "When you talk to
most shop techs, they all have their own waxing secrets
that they claim work better than others. But the truth is
they all work about the same. After a few times of waxing
your own board, you will find a way that will work best for
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on
snowboarding, the costs of the board, bindings, boot,
clothing, taking the risk of injures, and investing time
into repairing the board.