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What is a Snowboard?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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A snowboard is a piece of equipment an athlete can use to ride down a snow-covered mountain. This board is attached to the athlete’s feet with special bindings, and he or she then rides down ski slopes or other snow-covered slopes using nothing but the snowboard. It's similar to a surfboard or a skateboard, and serves a similar purpose for the athlete. Unlike skiing, snowboarding does not involve the use of poles.

When purchasing a snowboard, the athlete must consider his or her weight, height, and shoe size. In general, it should be about 1 foot (0.3 m) shorter than the rider. When stood on its tip, the other end should reach to between the athlete’s chin and collarbone. An athlete who is on the heavier side should purchase a wider snowboard, as should an athlete with bigger feet.

The type of snowboarding the athlete performs also has an impact on the size the board should be. Those wishing to freestyle should purchase one that is wider, smaller, and more flexible. They should also wear soft boots when riding.

A snowboard use for slalom or racing, on the other hand, should be long and stiff. The athlete should also wear hard boots when racing. No matter the use of the board, all designs have metal edges and an upturned lip on at least one end.

The snowboard was first invented in the 1970s and was inspired by the design of surfboards. When first invented, the sport of snowboarding was not very respected by skiers, and it was often viewed as a fad. Many resorts refused entry to snowboarders, and ski companies scoffed at companies that made boards. Today, many ski companies are coming out with their own boards and are also borrowing the technology to create new ski designs.

Injuries related to snowboarding are as common as injuries to alpine skiers. Usually, people are most likely to get hurt when they try to perform maneuvers beyond their ability level. The majority of injuries are to the wrist. To prevent injuries, riders should start slowly and wear wrist guards and a helmet.

Sports&Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Georgesplane — On Aug 26, 2010

@ Chicada- There is not much difference between a comparable woman's and men's board. You might have trouble finding a suitable mens board if you are really short, but besides that there are models that will work fine. In general, men's boards are a little wider, and a little stiffer. If you buy a guy’s snowboard for riding freestyle you shouldn't have to worry about stiffness, and width can be a little better when starting out anyway. The only benefit to a women’s board is they are designed on specific feedback from the ladies. I say rent a few different boards first to see how they ride, then choose what you want.

By chicada — On Aug 26, 2010

@ Georgesplane- You said you used to work at a ride shop. I am just starting out, and I want to know if there is any difference between a women’s snowboard and a men’s snowboard. I hate the graphics that they put on women’s boards (they scream look at me, I'm a chick). Plus, I'm not really a fan of pink and pastels. Can you give me a little advice?

By Georgesplane — On Aug 26, 2010

There are still resorts that do not allow snowboarders. Mad River Glenn Ski resort in Vermont refuses to allow snowboarders to purchase lift tickets, but they cannot prevent them from using the mountain. Private companies operate most of the Ski resorts in Vermont, but the state owns the land rights. This means that anyone can hike the mountains and use the slopes at any of the resorts on state land.

At least once a year, a group of snowboarder’s descends on Mad River Glenn to poach the fresh powder before the ski lifts open. They hike all day and ride the slopes with the stuck up skiers in the area. The skiers always, complain because they believe that skiing is the purer of the two sports and snowboarders have no place on "their" mountain. When this happens, it is usually a topic of heated debate in areas surrounding the Glenn. I used to work at a snowboard shop, and it was always a good laugh when this happened.

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