First developed in the 1960s in the USA, snowboarding was introduced in to the Olympic programme at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games. This relatively young sport has both racing and freestyle disciplines.

Halfpipe

Riders use gravity and their own bodies to generate speed and power to zig zag down the halfpipe. That momentum that launches them up the vertical walls of the 22ft tall ‘pipe’ and out of the top of it performing acrobatics in the air before landing back in the pipe and repeating on alternating walls to the bottom. Just like figures skating and other creative sports there are 6 judges, each of whom award points to the riders for style, amplitude and technical difficulty.

The maximum amount of points available per run is 100. Riders complete two runs with the highest scoring of their two runs counting.

Slopestyle

On a course made up of features including jumps, rails, hips and boxes, riders perform stunts to impress judges. Just like Halfpipe riders are assessed on amplitude, style and difficulty by a team of judges, who mark each run out of 100. There are a number of different feature options at every stage of the course, so one rider’s run can differ hugely from another’s. As such there is an incredible array of styles making this thrilling discipline thrilling to watch.

Big Air

On one jump riders throw down their best tricks. They are awarded points by a panel of judges, just like in other freestyle disciplines. The highest scoring riders after qualifying will progress to the final. Expect to see multiple off-axis rotations in one maneuver with a variety of grabs. Points are awarded for amplitude and style as well as technical difficulty and precision. Riders will set their rotation as they launch themselves in to the air off the jump, heights of up to 8m are not uncommon.  Riding away after a clean landing will ensure maximum points.

Snowboard Cross

Four riders race head to head on a course with jumps, spines, rollers and banked turns. Starting at the same time from a gate the riders go flat out to the finish line. Crashes are not uncommon in this form of racing, and the spectacular nature of the racing make it a crowd favourite. Timed seeding runs decide the start order for the knockout competition with only the top riders progressing through each elimination round until the final.

Parallel Giant Slalom

Two riders race head to head on identical, parallel Giant-Slalom courses, each with around 25 gates and around 550m long. Individual timed runs decide the position in which the riders enter the knockout stage of the competition. Each knockout round is raced over two runs, where the riders complete one run before swapping courses. The time difference at the end of the first run is taken into account at the start of the second run; the slower rider from the first run is delayed by up to 1.5s when starting their second run. Then it’s an all out race to the bottom! 

Extremely exciting to watch, this racing is often referred to as Dual-Slalom or Duals for short and is particularly popular in the UK on the dry slope scene.