Snowboarding And History Essay, Research Paper
Snowboarding is the world?s fastest growing winter sport and is set to become
even more popular than skiing. It is still a young sport and there are many people
eager to learn more about the enjoyment the sport has to offer.
Without going to a mountain and taking a few lessons it is hard to fully
appreciate what the sport really is, and the sensation that riding a snowboard
gives. Hopefully, my report will tell everything a person would need to know
about equipment, so that they can go try the sport out for themselves.
The first snowboard ever marketed was produced by Shervin Popper, in 1964.
It was a crude model put together in his garage, after he saw his daughter trying
to go down a hill on a sled standing up. It consisted of two children?s skis
strapped together, with some doweling on the top for foot attraction. His daughter
took it to the local sledding hill, and soon enough all the kids wanted one.
Another pioneer was Dimitrije Milovich, a surfer from the east coast. He made
his invention because of the lack of warm water in the winter. This board also
had no bindings, but it included iron edges. In the early seventies Milovich began
limited production of these custom boards.
In 1977 the main snowboard company for today started production. Jake
Burton made and sold his prototypes with handmade bindings. These included
some elements similar to modern design. Tom Sims also started production of
some boards. In 1979 Tom Sims and Chuck Barfoot created the first board
made of fiberglass.
At the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties, the snowboard
began to appear in some sports magazines and on American and Canadian TV.
A beer commercial showed Paul Graves riding a snowboard. This introduced the
snowboard to the public, although it was still considered a strange sport.
Now that snowboards were allowed on some mountains, the board needed to
be redesigned so that it would work on packed snow. Shaped wood can slide
along on a hill of deep powder, and it could turn pretty good, but it still was slow
and hard to turn on packed snow.
In 1980 and 1981 the three main snowboard companies, Burton, Sims, and
John Winterstick began to produce fiberglass boards with polietilene (P-tex)
bases, as well as metal edges. The same year the Struck Brothers produced a
board with two small skis on the bottom. Called the Swingbo, it was easier to
carve and turn on packed snow.
When snowboard companies found out about the importance of flex, sidecut,
and camber, nine basic materials began being used. They could be manipulated
or have substitutions, depending on what the board was supposed to do. These
parts were wood or foam, fiberglass, poly MDI, epoxy matrix, polietilene (a.k.a.
P-tex or PE), flacee or ABS, Fenolo-reinforced poly MDI or P-tex, steel inserts,
and steel with rubber dampening.
Wood or foam makes up the core of the board. Usually the core is made of
different types of wood, stiff and light to make the board flexible and durable.
Wood needs to be laminated vertically so that the glue doesn?t play too important
a role in the board?s performance, and so the board will keep it?s characteristics
over time. This process is more expensive than the process to make a board
with a foam core.
A foam core is cheaper than wood. It can also be produced an a larger scale
easier. The only problem is that it isn?t as durable as a wood core, and it often
needs to be reinforced with materials such as Kevlar.
There are many variations of the size, shape, and placement of the core within
the board. For example, a board with most of the core in the center of the board
would spin easier, because there would be no counterweight to slow the spin.
Fiberglass is used in all boards over and under the core to increase stiffness
and to keep the board from deforming. The process of putting all the layers
together is called lamination. Fiberglass is a woven structure which is usually
“Biaxle,” meaning there are two directions in the weave, but even better is
“Triaxle,” which has three.
Poly MDI is a polymeric matrix that gives the board good flexibility over time.
The epoxy matrix is the glue used to stick parts of the board together in the
laminating process. It has a good shock resistance, is lightweight, and has a long
life of rigidity.
Steel inserts are the holes that you see on the top of a board that has no
bindings on it. They are the holes that bindings screw into. They are imbedded
into the fiberglass and are very strongly rooted into the board. They come in
three basic patterns. The basic 4 by 4 pattern is 8 aligned inserts on each half of
the board. Almost every board uses this pattern. Next is Burton?s 3-d insert
pattern. It only requires that three screws go into the board per binding. The up
side to this is the thousands of stance possibilities that can come out of this
pattern. The down side is that a lot of binding plates don?t fit this pattern. The
third is not very popular, it has a weird set of holes that are meant only to be
filled by baseless bindings, which only have screw holes on weird parts of the
edges. It is not extremely common. Maybe 1 out of 20 boards have it, if not less.
The shiny layer that you can see on the top of a board is called the top sheet.
Usually it?s made of flacee or ABS, two extremely hard materials that are very
difficult to cut. Underneath it there are usually graphics that can be put under the
top sheet by printing them out on a special sheet of plastic that goes between
the fiberglass and the top sheet.
Side walls are the narrow sides between the top sheet and the base on the
edges. The strength of this component is very important because if they are
punctured, water can enter the core and rot it out.
Around the edges is a strip of metal, usually steel, that allow the board a good
hold on ice and protection for the board. These strips are called the edges.
Between the edge and the bottom of the side wall there is a layer of dampening,
often made of rubber, to absorb the shocks and vibrations coming from the edge.
The edges can wrap all the way around the board, or they can stop just before
the tip and tail. Edges that are not fully wrapped are just becoming popular.
Various shapes and components are used for specific styles of riding. There
are 4 main styles of riding, with specific boards for each: Alpine/Carving/Race,
Freestyle, Freeride, and Big Mountain/Longboard.
Racing, Carving, or Alpine boards are very distinguishable from other boards.
They are usually thick , skinny, and have very low tails, if they have a tail at all.
They can also be noticed by the hard, ski-style boots and the ski-style bindings
that are used on this type of board. The board usually has a low, short tip for
good performance, without vibrations at high speeds. The tail is usually very low,
flat, or sometimes there is just an angled cut-off. A Freeride-Carving model
would have a semi-stiff core, and a large side cut, so that the board can go at
high speeds as well as make large sweeping carves. A race board would have a
little side cut, and it would be very thin, so that it can switch quicker from edge to
A Freeriding board would have good performance in all conditions, whether
powder, jumps, ice, steeps, halfpipe, and any other conditions that a mountain
could have. This board mixes the characteristics of a freestyle board and an
alpine board. They are large, but with a moderate sidecut . They are not too stiff,
and they don?t have very low or very high tips. The nose would be long and at a
moderate height so that it can float in powder, and go off jumps. All models are
symmetrical, but some have a distinct tip for powder. The purpose of Freeriding
is to use all parts of the mountain to have fun, whether it is in the pipe or off in
Freestyle boards are made for riding in the park and pipe. The boards are
usually short and wide. The short length allows for better maneuvers in the air,
while the large width allows for lower stance angles so that riding forward and
backward can be easily done. The flex is important and with the sidecut, makes
the difference between a specific board for the park or a specific board for the
halfpipe. A board for the park would be stiff in the center, and soft at the tip and
tail to absorb landings. A halfpipe board would have an equally distributed flex,
so that the board can contour to the curve of the pipe better.
A Big Mountain or Long Board is ridden by experts who do a lot of hiking
around in the backcountry of the very large mountains. They are like long, wide,
Freestyle boards, so that they can float in. They are usually very long, about 170
to 185 centimeters.
Bindings are the mechanisms that keep the rider?s feet on the board. There are
three styles of bindings: strap-ins, step-ins, and hard bindings. Strap-ins are the
most popular, because they have been around the longest and can be used on
all types of boards except Alpine boards. Step-ins are newer, they are more
convenient and are beginning to be just as high in performance as strap-ins.
Only a few companies make them, and you need special boots to use them,
which is why they are in second place. Third popular are hard bindings, which
require specific equipment to use; an alpine board and hard boots.
Snowboarding has come so far in the last few years. It came from a toy to a
high-tech piece of equipment, from a sport for trouble makers to an Olympic
event, from a small family owned business to a major business. In recent years
we?ve seen huge advances in equipment technology and performance, clothing
design and smooth riding styles. This has provided the images necessary to
make snowboarding appealing to all kinds of people and to assure it?s growth
well into the future. As more and more young people take up snowboarding,
together with the increasing adult cross-over from, we can be assured that this is
no fad or craze that will soon die out.
Snowboarding is an individual, creative, and healthy pastime exercised in the
great outdoors, and is different things to different people. Try riding and who
knows, you just might enjoy it.