Written By: Ben Gavelda, Transworld Snowboarding
Snowboarding's Different Riding Styles
Whether in terrain parks, backcountry or urban environments— this broad term describes all riding where tricks are performed. Freestyle riding is, and continues to be a popular style of riding, especially with the continuous progression of features and tricks. Its future is only restricted to one's creativity on a snowboard.
This style of riding is characterized by the use of existing features within or around urban and human-made landscapes. Handrails, ledges, parking structures, walls, etc. These features offer a playground for riding outside of resorts. The progression of street riding has surged in the last handful years as the level of riding has further adapted to such surroundings. It's the most accessible form of riding for many younger riders and continues to grow.
Made popular by the last four Olympics, this part of snowboarding involves performing tricks while riding through a massive U-shaped snow feature at high speeds. Adapted form skateboard vert riding, snowboard half pipe has changed dramatically from the rudimentary days of riding natural gullies to today's massive pipe productions that implement specialized snow machines and precision shaping. Larger pipes continue to allow riders to ride faster, go bigger and invent new tricks. However, the considerable time and financial costs of creating and maintaining pipes, as well as their limited accessibility pose a threat to its evolution.
Freeriding is exactly that—riding at one's leisure in any terrain and only bound by the mountain. This type of riding is best portrayed by the pursuit of riding massive peaks, but it's not solely restricted to that. Riding natural features and adding freestyle elements to them is common. This riding style is limited by access to mountains and threatened by the dangers that exist (avalanches, crevasses) when seeking to ride in distant areas. The future of freeriding is wide open, and as the film Deeper presents, as long as there are peaks with snow, there exists a desire to ride them.
This side of the snowboarding includes races such as slalom, giant slalom and boardercross. Boardercross is an adaptation of BMX riding where four riders race down a course of jumps, berms, etc. Slalom racing is a timed race through a series of gates. This niche side of the sport persists mainly in association with similar ski races. While deemed and Olympic sport, its future lies in the problem of attracting younger riders.