Snowboards, Skis, and Goggles
Snowboarding has had a rich and colorful past. Some of the first snowboards were much more similar to skateboards. One of the first manufactured boards was the “Snurfer” a short board that the rider stands on and steers with a string attached to the nose of the board. They were crude and didn’t allow for very much control, but they were fun and by 1979 there was the first ever World Snurfing Championships. Jake Burton arrived to compete with his own custom designed board and after much dispute was allowed to compete in his own category. Of course he won, but everyone watching realized how important the improvements were on his board.
The main difference was the addition of snowboard bindings. They allowed the board to be turned more like skis, and the board was constructed more like ski equipment, but unlike stiff ski boots, soft snowboarding boots proved to be the best choice. The sport burst in popularity because of these improvements in snowboard equipment, developments that are still present on boards today.
Snowboarding has always been closely affiliated with skate and surf culture which have affiliations of their own. In the past they were stereotyped as punk-rock and hip-hop listeners that were typically lazy, anti-establishment stoners. While there are still plenty of riders that fit into that category they are not exclusively snowboarders anymore. For a long time they weren’t allowed onto ski slopes and then only reluctantly. There was a rift between skiing culture and snowboard culture which has slowly dissolved as riders began realizing their similarities and allowing other influences.
Skiing culture has adopted many of the mentalities that skaters and snowboarders pioneered. Now ski jackets and snowboarding jackets are indistinguishable, being judged only by their style and performance. Gloves and ski boots have always been interchangeable between skiers and snowboarders, and now ski apparel should be more accurately label snow apparel or snow riding apparel. Gone are the days of tight fitting ski or snowboard pants, loose and mobile are the new standard.
Snowboarding gear was inspired by ski gear, but both have improved developments in the other sport. Carving skis didn’t exist until the carving snowboard was invented. Shaped boards revolutionized skiing, a fact many skiers are loathe to acknowledge, but snowboard designs would have never come around if it weren’t for skis and ski areas. Now they are sports that are enjoyed by many different types of people in huge numbers. No stereotypes can typify this group anymore.
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