In essence, there are essentially three snowboarding styles
i.e. freestyle, freeride and alpine/race.
Your preferred snowboarding style will influence the type
of terrain you cover and, more importantly, the type of equipment
you'll need to get the most out of your ride. This is especially
true when it comes to your choice of boards, boots and bindings.
Probably the most glamorous of the three snowboarding styles
where the riders are trendy and full of attitude is freestyle riding.
Freestyle primarily involves a variety of tricks and jumps in specially
constructed terrain parks, rails and halfpipes (a large and deep
Because of the dynamic and acrobatic nature of freestyle snowboarding,
freestyle competitions are more popular and generate more
publicity compared to their other snowboarding counterparts.
This is probably the style that you've been the most exposed
to in all those posters, magazines, videos and other forms of media.
Freestyle snowboarders usually wear soft boots while using boards specifically
made for snowboarding which are shorter and have superior flex to facilitate
jumping, spinning in the air and landing.
These boards also have an identically shaped twin-tipped nose and tail
to allow riders to move in both forward and backward directions with ease.
Freeriding is a more general form of snowboarding which combines
a variety of snowboarding elements and disciplines. In essence,
it encompasses the spirit of exploration where you, as the rider,
trek through a variety of powder fields, trees, steeps and anything else
the mountain has to offer.
Boards for freeriding are generally longer and narrower than freestyle
boards while having a more prominent sidecut for more efficient carving.
Freeride boots are also of the soft variety although riders may prefer
a little added stiffness for a more responsive setup.
Alpine / Race
Here, the primary focus is
speed where riders race through wide open terrain or racecourses
made from hard packed snow. For
this reason, racing boards are narrow and stiff with small noses
and little or no tail kick as they are designed to move in a forward
Because there is very little margin for error, this style
of snowboarding is best reserved only for advanced riders who have
a firm grasp of the pre-requisite skills. A less extreme form
of race snowboarding is called freecarve which uses slightly
shorter, wider and more flexible boards to combine
race carving with the versatility of freeriding.
Competitions in this category of snowboarding usually take the
form of giant slaloms where riders are required to make a variety of
tight turns to negotiate a specifically designed course marked
by poles on a mountain slope.
Boots and bindings made for racing are hard and stiff,
closely resembling ski boots. These are designed to give as
much protection as possible
to the feet and ankles during high speed carving
while providing maximum control and
stability at all times.
Which Style For Beginners?
If you are a beginner, sticking with soft boots
and bindings and using boards made for either freeride or freestyle
snowboarding will give you enough flexibility and margin for
error so that you can pick up the fundamentals of snowboarding
without too much discomfort. Riding for a handful of sessions
should then give you a clearer idea of which snowboarding style you'll
fancy the most.