Slopestyle evolved from simple snowboarding by individuals desiring to mimic the tricks performed by BMX riders or skateboarders. The winter sport of slopestyle snowboarding involves gliding down a specially designed course, which features a series of jumps, quarter-pipes, rails and other obstacles that provide athletes with the chance to perform a variety of tricks. Competitors use gravity, speed and other laws of physics to accomplish the feats. In 2014, slopestyle became an Olympic event in the Sochi, Russia winter games.
The Competition Site
The competition site is manmade and consists of a variety of jump and rail features. These obstacles may include a quarter-pipe, step downs and table tops along with box slides, rail slides and hitching posts. The areas are covered with layers of snow and ice. There are one or more judging stands that provide judges with a complete view of the course. A scoreboard at the bottom or top of the field provides the judge’s score for each athlete after completing the course. A series of jump spotters are responsible for the safety of the course and watch for potential problems as athletes compete. They make corrections as needed. A fence on the outer edges of the course creates a barrier where spectators congregate to watch the event.
After a scheduled practice session, athletes make two runs through the course, which are judged. The best score of the two runs is used to determine an athlete’s ranking. During the U.S. Open and the X Games, athletes are commonly required to make a series of runs in order to cut the lowest scoring boarders.
Three to five judges score the runs based on creativity and skill on a scale of one to 10 or 1 to 100. The boarders receive scores based on the flow or fluidity of running the course, creativity and technical difficulty of the tricks and style.
Keys to Performance
Scoring well in competition requires that boarders plan in advance as to how they will run the course. Each stunt must be performed with precision and progress smoothly from one to the next. Athletes typically choose stunts or tricks that they are able to perform well. They must also have the knowledge and skill to adapt on the fly when conditions warrant. Various obstacles require riders to achieve certain heights, hold the board in specific ways and spin or turn a designated number of times.