Snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998 at the Nagano Winter Olympics. Also featured in the program were the giant slalom and the halfpipe. The parallel giant slalom first appeared on the Olympic program at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Snowboard cross was first included in the Olympics in 2006 in Turin.
Snowboarding in Russia
The first snowboard was brought to Russia in the late 1980s. In 2010, Russian athlete Ekaterina Ilyukhina won the silver medal in the parallel giant slalom at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
There are ten snowboarding events in the Olympic Games: men’s and women’s events in the halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross, slopestyle, and parallel slalom.
The first Olympic competitions in the parallel slalom and slopestyle will be held in Sochi in 2014.
The halfpipe competition is held on a special halfpipe-shaped course. Using the speed gained on the slope, snowboarders come up over the rim on the other side of the pipe and perform acrobatic aerial tricks.
In the parallel giant slalom events, two athletes engage in a head-to-head competition on parallel courses. The athletes with the best results in the qualifying round advance to the finals, and then compete on an elimination basis. The snowboarder who wins all the races wins the competition.
The snowboard cross event takes place on a course made up of various moguls, obstacles, banks, and jumps. Athletes are subject to elimination in qualifying runs. Results in the qualifying round determine snowboarders’ places in the final groups (the athlete with the best qualifying result gets starting number 1, and so on). In this stage, two groups of leaders run the course simultaneously, in an exciting battle over the right to advance to the final. The final group run determines who the medal winners are.
Slopestyle. Athletes perform on a slope featuring various forms of obstacles (rails, quarterpipes, and jumps). The technical characteristics of the course are dictated by the rules of the International Ski Federation. The competition is formatted in an elimination system with semifinals and finals, with two runs in each round. The snowboarder with the best results wins.
Parallel slalom. Two athletes descend parallel courses marked with blue and red flags. The athlete who covers the distance the fastest while following the course rules (about trajectories, fines, etc.) wins. The courses must match each other as much as possible in terms of relief, snow cover, number of turns, and other factors.
- A specially developed, flexible board for the halfpipe and slopestyle. This allows the snowboarder to keep his balance and perform acrobatic tricks.
- A slalom board. This board is stiff and narrow, which is ideal for sharp turns and high speeds.
- The snowboard cross board is designed to allow high speeds, and is flexible enough to help the snowboarder avoid mistakes when negotiating obstacles.
- Soft boots are usually worn for the halfpipe, slopestyle, and snowboard cross, but hard boots similar to skiing boots are used for the slalom.
- A hard plastic helmet is required for all snowboard competitors.