The biggest draw to snowboarding is the ability to express oneself through movement and the exhilaration one gets out of that freedom. The unique aspect of snowboarding is that every rider can develop his or her own style on and off the hill. As your experience as a rider grows, your ability to develop and progress who you are as a snowboarder also grows.
For new riders, the biggest motivation to start to ride is the vision of who you can become as a snowboarder. You might have heard that snowboarding is more than a sport, but a way of life. As you develop who you are as a snowboarder or just board rider all together, you also can recreate who you are as a person.
So it's time, let's be unique and start defining who we are and who we want to become as snowboarders.
To define what type of rider we are or want to become, lets take a look at the main aspects of snowboarding. We have "freestyle" - which includes jumping, riding sliding features, and halfpipe riding. We have "freeride" - that covers a huge range from resort cruising to off piste’ shredding. We have "backcountry" riding which has to do with being responsible for personal safety practices, trekking and mountain exploration. Also we have snowboard racing that includes snowboard cross and different styles of slalom racing disciplines. Each one of these aspects of snowboarding is interconnected and most snowboarders will not define themselves completely with one category.
The freestyle rider can be found not just in the park, but also all over the hill, turning the resort into their personal playground. Riders will find themselves bringing freestyle tricks into all aspects of riding, sometimes even into races. (Hopefully just not in the final seconds of the Olympics, causing them to lose a Gold Metal.)
The terrain park and halfpipe is the Mecca for freestyle riders. As parks continue to get more innovative and creative, the ability of riders to learn and develop new tricks also grows. Whether it is catching air, getting technical with jib tricks or boosting out of a pipe wall, the biggest motivation to snowboard in our current time is freestyle riding. As new equipment is being developed the pathway to becoming a freestyle rider is also becoming easier.
Getting out on the hill and just being free. Cruising around a resort with friends and exploring new terrain is the heart of freeriding. Most riders will spend a ton of time just out cruising the groomed runs and waiting for the new snow to hit so they can venture into the fresh powder. As a rider that loves all aspects of snowboarding, but most of all being able to quickly travel from one side of a ridge to the next peak in a matter of minutes, this is truly freeriding. The resorts allow us to experience snow, as it never could before, with sculpted runs and pristine groomed slopes. You may find yourself getting to the mountain early just to shred the corduroy patterns left by the grooming machines the night before. When the new snow falls you will get to the mountain even earlier to wait in line for the ultimate in freerider experience - lap after lap of fresh powder.
As a freerider gains more experience, the desire to be in more secluded areas also tends to grow. Backcountry riding, when approached safely, can be one of the most amazing experiences in a snowboarder's life. The investment in hiring a guide or going through the proper avalanche awareness and backcountry courses is well worth the work to be able to get the true freedom of snowboarding. Whether you are trekking into a secluded area on a split board, traveling by snow cat or snowmobile, or flying in via helicopter, the out-of-resort experience is the ultimate in true snowboarding. Riders continue to incorporate more and more freestyle riding into the backcountry. Big backcountry jumps and tricks off cornice drops litter any good snowboard video and this is just the beginning.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from freeriding, we have Snowboard Racing. The competitive nature of many riders will lead them into racing down the hill. Whether it is to feel the intense speed of the wind across the face or to show your friends that you are the fastest rider on the slopes. Racing was the first competitive aspect of snowboarding and although it is extremely overshadowed by freestyle competitions, the disciplines of snowboard cross, snowboard giant slalom and snowboard banked slalom are still alive and well.
What Type of Rider are You?
With the different aspects of snowboarding better defined it is up to you and the crew you ride with to define what type of rider you are and want to become. This will help you better get into equipment and terrain that will help you to reach these goals. Some resorts will cater more to certain styles of rider and as you plan your next snowboard trip you will be able to better select the location that fits you as a rider.
New Rider – Motivated to progress into one of the prime snowboard styles
Cruiser – Loves to ride around the groomed slopes
Carver – Loves to lay trenches on the snow riding edge to edge and moving fast
Freestyler/Park Rider – Loves to spend all their time in the park
Jumper – Loves to catch air anywhere they can
Jibber – Will ride on anything and everything not made of snow
Park Rat – Well you have heard of a Mall Rat… Same but with more steeze
Pipe Rider – Not afraid to hike the half pipe
Freerider – Doesn’t bother to stick to the runs
Shredder – Loves to tear up the snow
Powder Rider – Just lives to ride the freshest of fresh
Racer – Want to go fast and wants to win
Boarder Crosser – From air to bank with motocross intensity
Weekend Warrior – Works 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, but will be on the snow every weekend.
Road Tripper – Takes long vacations traveling in the car from one winter destination to the next.
Hundred Plus Day-er – has the determination and ability to be on snow over one hundred days a year!