Believe it or not, snowboarding wasn’t as well loved as it is today. A few decades ago, some would laugh at the thought of the sport appearing in the Olympics. In the 70s many resorts even banned it. Many people saw snowboarding as a dangerous fad and didn’t take the sport seriously. Skiers were upset that snowboarders were invading “their” mountains. However, that didn’t stop the sport from gaining popular with the masses.
Over the years snowboarding began to gain quite the following. As the sport became more popularized, the next stop was to hold competitions. Fans began showing up to regional sporting events and soon the events expanded to all parts of the world.In 1982, the United States held the first championship and in the following year, the U.S. held the first World Championships in 1983.
In 1990 the International Snowboarding Federation formed and in 1994 the International Ski Federation declared snowboarding as a FIS discipline. This was a pivotal point since this help push the sport into the Olympics. Fans rejoiced when snowboarding was declared an Olympic even in 1994.
The spot was first introduced into the Winter Olympics in the year of 1998. This year the Winter Olympic Games were hosted in Nagano Japan. Between 1992 and 2002, snowboarding was one of five new sports that was added to the Winter Olympic program.
In 1998 there were only four events, two for men and two for women: the giant slalom and the half-pipe. The giant slalom event was similar to giant slalom skiing. The event takes place downhill and the competitors race against one another and the clock down the course. The half-pipe is an event where competitors get to show off their tricks and skills. A semi-circular ditch or ramp is built into the course and competitors preform tricks as they go form one die of the pipe to the other.
Since then the sport has gained six events in the Olympic Winter Games program: men’s and women’s halfpipe, men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom, men’s and women’s snowboard cross.
The first athlete to win a gold medal in snowboarding was Canadian Ross Rebagliati who won the men’s giant slalom. Since Rebagliati’s first win he has paved the way for many snowboarding olympic athletes.
United State’s Olympian, Shaun White, is the only person to be a triple gold medalist. Philipp Schoch of Switzerland and Seth Wescott of the United States both have impressive records as the only double gold medalists.
Snowboarding’s journey to the Olympics was a long one, but it was well worth the wait!