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Snowboarding Styles

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 U-shaped ramp).

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 direction only.

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.

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