Snowboarding Factsheets

Olympic History:  Snowboarding is a sport combining elements of surfing, skateboarding, and skiing.  The snowboarders slide down a snow-covered surface on a single board strapped to their feet.  It developed in the 1960s with the first mass-produced snowboard being sold in 1966, termed the “Snurfer.”  In the late 1970s, snowboarding became more popular and snowboarders began to “invade” traditional snow resorts, often met by opposition from skiiers who tried to exclude the snowboarders from “their” mountains.  By the 1990s, almost all ski resorts allowed snowboarding, and the resorts have found the snowboarders to be an excellent source of new revenue.

Competition in snowboarding developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  World Championships in the sport were first held in 1993 for both men and women.  Snowboarding was admitted to the Olympic program for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Through 2010, the three snowboarding events have been halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, and boarder-cross. Parallel giant slalom is similar to professional skiing, in which two skiiers race down parallel race courses of identical design.  The first snowboarder with the best time over two runs advances to the next round.  Halfpipe is an acrobatic, balletic event, conducted in a tube, or halfpipe, bounded by two steep parallels walls of ice.  Boarder-cross is a very exciting, almost combative, event that is contested in rounds and heats, with each heat consisting of several snowboarders (4-8).  The snowboarders race pack-style down the same course, with the first finishers advancing to the next round.  The event is fast, with lots of action, skills, and contact, and was added to the Olympic Program in 2006 at Torino.

Two new events for both men and women have been added to the Olympic Program for 2014. These are slopestyle, which has some elements similar to halfpipe, but done on a downhill course, with jumps and obstacles added; and parallel slalom, similar to parallel giant slalom, but on a shorter course with tighter turns.

Snowboarding is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), according to the International Olympic Committee, although this is controversial.  When snowboarding sought recognition as an Olympic sport, it tried to do so under the aegis of its own federation, the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF).  But the IOC does not recognize that federation.  The IOC agreed to allow snowboarding on the Olympic program but only if governed by the FIS as a discipline of skiing.  The decision was not well accepted by the snowboarding community, and in the early years of Olympic competition, several top snowboarders skipped the Olympics in protest.

As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.  Cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined are often termed one sport of nordic skiing, as in this book.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.