Snowboard Terrain - Intro
“..you could do so many more tricks than on skis, you had no sticks in your hands and you could use the terrain way better”. Terje Haakonsen on why he got hooked on snowboarding in the first place.
Snowboarding is fun, period! Once you’ve got those first couple of awkward (and painful) beginner days out of the way, the whole mountain becomes your playground. Unlike skis, the snowboard is incredibly adaptable to new terrain and areas. With turns and stopping down, the search for new things to ride and explore is really limited only by the rider’s imagination and mountain safety. Snowboarders can hit it all in an average day: freshly groomed trails, the park and pipe; even the backcountry if it’s super good. Like skaters, snowboarders use their environment to their own advantage, meaning that most riders are ‘top to bottom’ shredders: hitting everything on the hill and enjoying every second of it.
Groomers, runs, trails: whatever you call them, pistes are the mountain user’s A to B. They are basically marked ‘roads’ that criss-cross every resort and act as the easiest and safest means of getting around for every rider, snowboarder and skier alike. They are maintained by huge ‘piste-basher’ machines that groom and tame the paths each night. Hitting a pristine corduroy piste early in the morning is one of snowboarding’s simplest pleasures. [More about this subject here]
On a pow day, hitting the in-bounds off-piste can be about the most fun you can have on a board. For most resorts, the off-piste area is as it sounds: the parts of the hill that aren’t groomed each night but that are still within the resort boundaries and so controlled by the Ski Patrol. Typical off-piste can be anything from sweeping, open trees to tight chutes packed with glistening powder. It’s a playground but it has dangers too, especially in changing weather and when it’s dumped freshies.
The good stuff. If it’s open faces, huge kicker spots, untracked pow and chutes you want, the backcountry is where it’s at. Unfortunately, it’s also where most shredders put themselves in danger. There’s a crucial difference between off-piste and backcountry. Backcountry refers to any terrain outside the resort boundaries, meaning that there are no safety patrols, no fences and no back-up if you get into trouble. As snowboarding gets more popular and resorts become more crowded, hoards more riders are hitting up the backcountry and there are more accidents as a result. See Freeriding section for more information on the dangers and thrills of this, and be careful out there… [More about this subject here]
Many resorts with an open-minded attitude towards snowboarding are including skateboarding-inspired fun-parks. Parks are at the cutting-edge of freestyle and usually include huge gaps, hips, transfers, tables and rails. A good park will have areas for different abilities, meaning that riders of all ages can hone their skills.
As we saw in the Evolution section, early snowboarders wanted to mimic the transition riding of skating and surfing and began to seek out natural half-pipes. Today’s huge half-pipe scene is the result. Pipes and snowy u-jumps built from the snow on a downhill incline, often hundreds of metres long. Riders use the walls of the pipe to get airborne and perform tricks. Many of these are borrowed from skating and today’s super-pipe (huge pipes with walls up to 20’ high) scene is a close cousin of the vert skating scene. [More about this subject here]
Quarter pipes are as they sound: huge walls of snow shaped into a vertical transition, like one side of a half-pipe. Snowboarders ride at the wall and use the vert to launch themselves into the stratosphere. They’re fast, fun, challenging to ride and allow riders to get amazing amplitude. Quarter-pipes have also seen some of snowboarding’s defining moments, such as Ingemar Backman’s record-breaking backside air at Riksgransen in 1996.