Any time a new sport item is invented two people will get together, and it will become a competition. This is simple human nature and snowboard is no different. For many who had not seen it before in early 1990's snowboarding looked like some strange cross between skateboarding and skiing. In an amazingly short time the competitions snowboarding enthusiasts enjoyed were a part not only of American competitions, games and sports, but a part of the Olympics. It was a meteoric rise for this popular sport that shows no sign of losing fans, supporters or its very own superstar athletes.
In snowboarding an athlete descends a slope that is completely or partly covered in snow. The rider rides a snowboard that is held in place by a special binding. Snowboarding was initially inspired by surfing, skiing and skateboarding in late 1960's and 1970's, but really took off as a competitive sport a decade later. There are many different snowboarding games or competitions. Slopestyle, Big Air, Halfpipe, Boardercross, Indycross, Rail Jam, and Racing are among the best known.
In the Slopestyle the influence of both skiing and skateboarding are clearly seen. Athletes compete and perform tricks with moving over, around, though, across, and down terrain features. This is an obstacle course in part which includes jumps and jibs for the boarder to jump or slide across.
Big Air looks most like a ski jump competition on snowboards. A special launch is built and boarders jump and do tricks while in the air then try to execute a clean landing.
The Halfpipe is a ditch built in a semi-circle around 8 and 22 feet deep. Athletes go from one side of the ditch to the other performing tricks while staying in the air as much as possible.
Boardercross and Indycross are the standout competitions because they look more like a motorcycle motocross track than a skateboard or ski contest. There are jumps and obstacles made out of snow on the downhill part of the course. Several boarders in groups of 4 or 6 race down the track in a series of heats in Boardercross. The Indycross is a single competitor run and the board rider has to skid and turn down the course to complete it.
The Rail Jam as might be suspected from the name is more a jib contest. The snowboarder performances slides and tricks on rails, pipes, walls, and other features dreamed up by the race designers. Prizes are awarded for best overall in the male and female category.
Racing events are straightforward with snowboarders racing downhill through gates, which demonstrate technical skills along with the speed of the boarder.
Snowboarding has become a big part of the Winter X Games also known as the Extreme Games which is a commercial annual sports competition held by ESPN. These games have become so popular that often flock Snowboarding teams from the Olympics show up to compete.
Snowboarding games became a part of the Olympics in 1999 in Nagano, Japan. There are 6 snowboarding events at the Olympics including men's and women's halfpipe, parallel gain slalom, and snowboard cross.