Snowboarding takes the mainstream by storm

By Ryan Mulloy
February 21, 2002

photo retrieved from

Since the dawn of the Olympics, winter sports have been regal and refined. Ice-skating became an art that involved the slightest of motions to pull off the perfect maneuver in hopes of taking home the gold medal. This year, a new sport was added to the lineup. This year, the newest Olympic event is the extreme sport of snowboarding.

The men’s half pipe event took place in this year’s winter games. And for the first time in 46 years, a country swept a winter Olympic event. Ross Powers, Danny Kaas and J.J. Thomas took the event by storm, winning the gold, silver and bronze medals for the United States respectively.

Like any of the Olympic sports out there, snowboarding is about the turns and the tricks of the trade. But most importantly, the snowboarding is judged on how well these tasks are pulled off and how accurate they are.

Oddly enough though, a major issue for snowboarders is the condition of their boards. Different tactics are used to perhaps increase the speed of the board or give it the finish it needs to be able to perform in any condition. For instance, some boarders used sandpaper on the bottom of their boards to give it a finer base. Smooth edges are also important for the board’s use, as is the waxing and the care of the board.

The tricks are what actually make the halfpipe. There are a massive amount of tricks that can all make or break a snowboarder or their snowboard itself. For example, one of the tricks that a snowboarder might use is Alley oop. While this sounds easy written out, it is far more complex. To complete the jump, a snowboarder rides up the halfpipe and rotates 180 or more degrees in an uphill direction. The athlete has the option to either rotate backside on the frontside wall of the halfpipe or rotating frontside on the backside wall. Sound easy on paper?

What about the 540? The snowboarder must rotate 540 degrees in the air and land riding a fakie. A fakie is a term used to describe riding backwards. While in a halfpipe, the snowboarder rides up to the pipe, facing it, and rotates the full 540 degrees, then lands facing forward. Beginning to sound a little harder?

Well even if snowboarding is something you may want to consider, there are many factors involved. Like any sport, this requires a massive amount of practice, especially on the levels of games like the Olympics or the X Games. Proper stretching is almost a demand on the body and of course, staying active all year is imperative.

Snowboarding is just one of the many extreme sports that take place at an event like the X Games. Fans of extreme sports may remember that Philadelphia recently hosted the Summer X Games back in August. The city of Philadelphia was prepared for the events, setting up stands and preparing businesses for the swarm of the extreme followers who were looking to stay in the city. The Philadelphia Inquirer set aside parts of its paper to cover the games as thoroughly as possible.

The sixth Winter X Games took place Jan. 17 through 20. They were recently aired on ESPN, ESPN2 and even ABC from Feb. 1 through 5. The two major events that took place this winter were skiing and snowboarding, both done in many forms and through many different contests.

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Ryan Mulloy

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