Winter Olympics 2018: A beginner's guide to snowboarding ahead of the Pyeongchang Games

If you were to mix skateboarding, skiing and surfing into one sport, chances are you would get something like snowboarding.

One of the most exhilarating disciplines at the Winter Olympics, snowboard came into being in the United States back in the 1960s.

Snowboarders have a board attached to an athlete's feet while they slide downwards.

At Pyeongchang, there will be 10 gold medals on offer with there being five variations of snowboarding and each variation having a men's and women's event.

Here's all you need to know about snowboarding:

File image of a snowboarder competing in the slopestyle event. REUTERS

File image of a snowboarder competing in the slopestyle event. Reuters

Olympic sport since: 1998

Categories and how are they different:

Parallel giant slalom (men and women): In this event, two athletes race against each other in two parallel gated courses. The duo will do this twice and whichever athlete finishes faster wins. There is a qualification round followed by head-to-head eliminators where the best 16 snowboarders from the qualification round go.

This is what it looks like:


Halfpipe (men and women): Halfpipe is an event where athletes swing across a massive semi-circular ramp while performing complex jumps, and twists when they are airborne.

Each competitor is allowed two runs in the qualifying round, with the best run's score being considered in order to progress. In the finals, each athlete is allowed three runs, with the best run deciding the winner.

In halfpipe, just as in slopestyle, judges award points for height, rotations, technique and degree of difficulty when airborne.

This is what it looks like:


Slopestyle (men and women): Slopestyle is one of the most exciting events at the Winter Olympics. It's held on a course which has jump pads, boxes, walls and even rails. An athlete can choose which objects they want to perform with.

While competitors get two runs during the qualifying round, athletes are given three runs in the final.

Interestingly, nine judges adjudicate the athletes — six give scores based on tricks while the remaining three judge the "impression" an athlete makes.

In slopestyle, just as in halfpipe, judges award points for height, rotations, technique and degree of difficulty when airborne.

This is what it looks like:


Snowboard cross (men and women): In the snowboard cross event, teams of four to six athletes race down a course organised with various terrain structures, be it jumps, rollers or spines. Since the vent is a race, ranking is decided by whoever comes first. Athletes qualify for the finals by totaling the time of the two preliminary runs.

This is what it looks like:


Big air (men and women): The big air event essentially sees athletes ride down a hill on a snowboard before launching themselves as high as possible before performing complex tricks while airborne. While reaching a good height with the jump and the complexity of the tricks are important, a clean landing is critical as well.

This is what it looks like:


Biggest contenders:

Much will be expected from the Americans, the Norwegians and the Austrians in the snowboarding events. Canada's Mark McMorris is the favourite in the men's big air event while Australia's Scotty James will have to come up with something special to pip America’s Shaun White to the gold in the men's halfpipe event.

Another American, Kelly Clark, will be amongst the contenders in the women’s halfpipe event. Clark is a three-time medallist and will be competing in her fifth Winter Games.

Days of event: Events will begin from Saturday (10 February) and run till 24 February.

Medals at stake: 10

Updated Date: Feb 07, 2018 12:25 PM

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