It’snowheaven – Where it all started – By Jess Softley

Snowboarding is enjoyed by thousands of people recreationally and professionally and is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, combining elements of surfing, skateboarding and skiing.

With such easy access to dry slopes and indoor snow domes, becoming a snowboarder has never been as easy. However, it wasn’t always this easy.

Before the 90s, snowboarding was a sport which had very limited access, as the only way to practice was to travel to places such as France, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. After the establishment of dry slopes, snowboarding thrived as a sport and continued to develop over the years.

For a country that lacks the snowboarding terrain to rival the likes of the Alps, the UK has produced some world class talent. Over the past decade, the popularity of the sport has almost quadrupled with the support of sixty dry slopes and six indoor real-snow centers in the UK.

Also, the number of Brits taking snowboarding holidays has increased from 187,000 in 2000 to 230,000 within a matter of seven years. 1998 was a huge year for snowboarding, not just in Britain but all over the world, as snowboarding was accepted as an Olympic sport in its own right at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Here, men and women both competed in two events, the giant slalom and the halfpipe. A Giant Slalom is an alpine snowboarding discipline which involves snowboarding between sets of poles, spaced at a greater distance to each other than in an ordinary slalom slope.

A halfpipe is a structure used in gravity extreme sports such as snowboarding. It is essentially two concave ramps, where snowboarders aim to ride the pipe from right to left and visa-versa, whilst attempting to do tricks throughout their runs.

The giant slalom event took place at Shiga Kogen on Mt. Yakebitai, a ski resort which formally did not allow snowboarders, until the Olympics. However, this did cause some controversy and as a result of this, the International Snowboarding Federation was founded.

The British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) organisation was founded in 2010 to support British athletes get recognition from the FIS discipline and help them prepare and enter for the Winter Olympics. They aim to get British riders out on the podiums at world events and challenge other countries to achieve medal success at next year’s Olympics.

This then paved the way for today’s British riders to develop their skills and showcase their talents against some of the world’s best riders.

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