If you’re itching to see what the Olympics will bring this year, you’re not alone. Although snowboarding was only introduced to the winter Olympics in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, the sport has gained a strong following and expanded the reach of the Olympic Games. With plenty of snow sport options, snowboarding just added to the list, but
The 2014 course in Sochi will not disappoint those who are lucky enough to ride and will thrill everyone watching. With three jib sections and three jumps that get progressively bigger, this is the first time a slopestyle event has made it to the Olympics. The vertical drop slope profile is 495 feet, the course is 2,083 feet long and 82 to 98 feet wide. As competitors ride through the course they are faced with obstacles to show off their skills. They will be judged based on their transitions between elements as well as their ability to concur the jibs and jumps with style.
The only thing that may put a damper on this course is the amount of snow available. The last proposed slopestyle event was canceled due to warm, rainy weather that couldn’t maintain the snow. The course will be constructed by the Freestyle and Snowboard staff of the Russian Federation and will be ready for riders on February 8 when the men will take to the course, followed by the women on February 9.
If your tried and true slope spot isn’t getting you going like it used to, you might need to start upping your game. Or maybe you just need a little jolt to your routine. Pack your bags and head to one of these extreme snowboard destinations that are sure to make your heart beat a little faster.
Whether you’re there for the thrill or are training for something in particular, check one some of these destinations to get your blood flowing again:
- Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia. The best meets the extreme with this resort. With the largest drop and steepest inbound terrain of any resort, this is for thrill-seeking boarders. Because Canada is relatively easy to travel to, you get an out-of-this-world experience without having to spend your life’s savings of airfare.
- Antarctica. While this may not be very practical, the adventure would certainly be extreme. Plenty of mad men have made the trek to the frigid hills, where you’ll need to be an expert climber as well as an extremely skilled rider to leave the continent in one piece. If you’re ready for some serious adventure and you have more money than you know what to do with, then why not take the trip?
- Chacaltaya, Bolivia. This is the world’s highest resort at an elevation of 5,400 meters above sea level. At this height you won’t be able to have the most eventful ride of your life without an oxygen tank, but you will be able to check another extreme off your list.
- Buttermilk, Colorado. If you want to stay in the U.S. to get your thrills, try out a few Colorado legends. The X Games team has jumped over the gaps and rode the step-downs that are made in this park. While the crew tones down the park for the daring riders, they still are encouraged to create heart-pumping trails where they use everything they can get their hands on to keep riders guessing.
- Mammoth Mountain, California. You don’t have to flee the country to find some truly unique parks. While you may not be outrunning an avalanche, this park will have you jibbing on some seriously strange things like a wrecking ball or satellite dish. If you’re still learning how to up your ante, you can visit the Mambo park side, where the same features will be toned down for a learning curve.
Think it’s too early to be hitting the slopes? Not at Bear Mountain in Big Bear Lake, Calif. The Hot Dawgz and Handrails event has been going on for 10 years now and each year is a fun way to kick off the season. What better way to get riders ready to buy their season passes than to start the So-Cal season off with a party?
The event features over 50 of the top jibbers in snowboarding, over 130 tons of snow, the Red Bull tour bus, live music, food and drink specials, freebies, giveaways and the cheapest season passes of the year. Not bad for an event that started with one rail in the parking lot. Now pro riders flock to compete at The Scene at Bear Mountain and vie for $15,000.
Tommy Gesme took top honors this year followed by Dillon Ojo in second place and Jordan Smalls with 3rd, while Jaeger Bailey took home best trick and Melissa Evans took the top spot for the women. The competition was webcast live for riders who couldn’t make it out watch the excitement of the little competition that has garnered quite the following in its 10 years. Honorable mention goes out to our very own Andrew Brewer who was out there killing it as well.
If you’ve got money burning through your pocket or your wanderlust is getting the best of you, maybe you and your board should take a vacation. There are amazing places to ride all across the world, but if you’re looking to make a vacation out of it, why not go somewhere new and exciting where your nights on the town will be just as fulfilling as the days on the slopes.
Here is a wide array of snowboarding destinations where you will be anything but bored. Pack your suitcase and your board and get ready for an adventure chock full of plenty of ride time on some amazing slopes and parks.
- Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia. This resort is less of a trek, but offers unbeatable riding. With breathtaking backcountry riding and amazing parks and pipes, this place has it all. From bowls and powder to the largest vertical drop of any resort worldwide, you will be planning to make a yearly pilgrimage to this spot when it’s time for you to leave.
- Hokkaido, Japan. Japan may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of the perfect boarding weather, but this northernmost island has constantly falling powder. If Japanese riders like Ayumu Hirano – who is blowing the world away in Olympic qualifiers – are any indication of the quality of riders the slopes produce, it’s surprising that more riders aren’t flocking there.
- Verbier, Switzerland. The mountains of Verbier are definitely black diamond. After a fresh snow, there are plenty of gullies and natural features that will keep your ride interesting. The steep mountains are thrilling to ride and in such a small country, there are plenty of opportunities to check out other parks. Nendaz is nearby for easier riding for beginners or for practicing switch riding.
- Wanaka, New Zealand. As with all these destinations, the backdrop for your ride is half the allure. The resorts in New Zealand are impeccable and treeless for a stunning view. There are a mix of resorts and private club fields across the country, so try them both out while you are there.
- Valle Nevado, Chile. If you want to hit up South America, try riding the Chilean mountains. As one of the three largest ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere, this resort is famous for its powder and heliskiing. Tres Puntas Summit stands at 12,045 feet, so you can really savor the ride down.
Last month, Olympic champion Shaun White injured his right ankle during Olympic training in New Zealand. He was there for the FIS World Cup slopestyle competition at the Winter Games in Cardrona, and shared a picture of his injury on Instagram.
The entire men’s slopestyle event was canceled due to weather, so White decided to rest his ankle and not compete in the halfpipe World Cup that took place later in the week. With the 2014 games slowly creeping up, White thought it would be more important to ensure that his ankle completely heals than push himself at a qualifying event. White has so far only met the qualification requirements to be considered for the halfpipe team, and still needs to be a top-30 finisher of a World Cup event for the slopestyle event. White is confident that he will be able to qualify at other International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions.
As he rests his ankle, White will plan his method of attack at Sochi. He has not stated how long he plans to spend recuperating, but he has a few opportunities to qualify before it’s too late. He is always ready to surprise fans with a bold and daring ride, so many people are eagerly awaiting his qualification.
Shaun is sponsored by Burton Snowboards.
Longboarding is a great way to cruise around town and take in all the colors of the season. With winter around the corner, riders want to maximize their time on the board and get as much ride time in as possible. Fall also means it’s time to head back to school for some, and longboarding is also a great way to get around campus. But before you hop on your board and cruise off into the sunset, check out some of the seasons must have gear.
- Don’t forget your helmet – especially if your campus has a lot of hills. You never know what’s going to snag a wheel, so it’s better to be safe than end up with a head injury. You don’t want to waste that tuition money when you could easily prevent a blow to the head with a helmet like the Bern Macon.
- You’ll definitely need a hat for the colder days and nights. While a snap back may be your style, check out some beanies that will keep you warm on your board. You’ll want a decent sweatshirt too, or a windbreaker to cut the breeze.
- Although the sun may not be hot, it’s still shining so don’t forget your shades. No matter how seasoned of a longboarder you are, if you can’t see where you’re going, you’re bound to have a bumpy ride.
- If you’re in the market for a new board, check out the fall inspired longboards at Eternal. Getting it at the end of the season will give you time to break it in so you can hit the ground running when spring comes around.
So before you head out this fall, grab some of the newest gear and enjoy the ride.
If you think strapping into the same board as Shaun White or Kelly Clark will get you to their level, think again. Unless you put in the years of hard work and dedication that they have, you probably won’t be taking home a gold medal from the Sochi Winter Games. But just because you won’t become an Olympic rider overnight doesn’t mean you can’t try to get their look and use their riding tips.
Shaun white has his own Burton line, The White Collection. Complete with boards and outerwear, The White Collection outfits men and women. Olympians boarder Torah Bright and Gretchen Bleiler teamed up respectively with Roxy and Oakley to create their own lines of functional outerwear. But not all Olympians have their own line.
Many boarders, like Louie Vito, prefer custom boards. Vito tops his custom made board with his “LV” logo and Burton’s Malavita bindings. Chas Guldemond rides a Sentury made custom Rockstar board with a light South African wood core for better responsiveness. Although the Olympians need to know their board like it is an extension of their bodies, some don’t mind buying the many quality boards on the market. Scotty Lago rides a Flow Maverick with NXT-AT bindings.
Burton outfitted the snowboarding team in the 2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Will Burton, one of America’s most well known snowboarding brands, rise to the opportunity again in 2014 for the Sochi Olympic Games?
Don’t grab a board just because the pros ride it so well. Each board has its individual pros and cons and can change with each rider’s abilities. Invest in a board based on your riding style, experience and personal feel for the board. Everybody is different, and your board should respond to yours.