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Gateway to the Summer Games - Spotlight Sports Griffin Publishing Group

Snowboarding is relatively new and growing very quickly in popularity. M.J. "Jack" Burchett built the first snowboard out of a plank of plywood in 1929 and secured it to his feet with some clothesline and horse reins. It wasn’t until 30 years later that Sherman Poppen, a chemical engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented "The Snurfer" as a toy for his daughter. He made the Snurfer by binding two skis together and putting a rope at the nose, so the rider could hold it and keep it more stable. Commercial production of snowboards was started in 1969 by Dimitrije Milovich.

In 1994, snowboarding was declared as an Olympic sport but it wasn’t until the 1998 Olympics that snowboarding event were held.There are two Olympic snowboard competitions: halfpipe and parallel giant slalom with both male and female events.

Halfpipe is all about technique and expression. The halfpipe competition takes place in a half-cylinder-shaped course dug deep into the hill. The pipe is generally 3 to 4 meters deep and 110 meters long with an 85-degree pitch and high vertical walls on each side. Using speed gained on the slope, snowboarders come up over the rim of the pipe and perform acrobatic aerial tricks. The object of the halfpipe is to perform difficult tricks with perfect form.

Parallel giant slalom is all about speed in a one-on-one dash. An exciting version of alpine snowboarding, parallel giant slalom features head-to-head competition on the mountain. After the qualification round, a 16-person tournament is established and competitors battle it out on two side-by-side courses until there is a winner.

Interesting Facts
  • Snowboarding has gained immense popularity during the last ten years. In 1985 only 7 percent of U.S. ski areas allowed snowboards; today more than 97 percent have opened the slopes to the sport.
  • Snowboarders have developed a colorful slang for specific moves i.e. “mick twist” is a 180 degree turn with a front flip; “indy grab” is holding on to the board in the middle of a jump and “bomb” an incredible move or trick.
  • The snowboarding competition will be held at Park City Mountain Resort, Park City, Utah, is about 28 miles from the Olympic Village. With a base of 6,946 feet and a summit of 8,300.5 ft., Park City has held numerous alpine skiing and snowboarding World Cups since it opened in 1963. Two-time alpine Olympic medalist Picabo Street of the U.S. is the resort's director of skiing.
  • Each nation can send up to 14 snowboarding athletes, with a maximum of eight males or eight females. A nation may have no more than four athletes competing in any one event. A maximum of 125 athletes has been established for the Olympic competition.
To Learn More About Snowboarding
  • Visit the Official Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Web site to get all the facts, latest scores and list of snowboarding events.
  • Where can you Snowboard? What equipment do you need? SkiCentral has a complete list of sites to help you find what you are looking for about snowboarding.
  • Snowboarding tips abound on this site which has detailed explanations about the sport, the people who love the sport and much more.
  • Jump into Snowboarding is a ThinkQuest project created by fourth graders in Kenai, Alaska and it is wonderful.
Other Winter Olympic Sports

Alpine Skiing


Figure Skating

Ice Hockey


Ski Jumping

Speed Skating


General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this winter. Even though Gateway to the Winter Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and every one by visiting the sites listed below.

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