How Snowboarding Has Changed in the Last 10-15 Years: Technology, Techniques, and CulturePublished on 05/09/2023 · 9 min readSnowboard Expert Will Koons walks us through some of the major changes in the snowboarding world and industry within the last 10-15 years!
Photo by Yann Allegre
Tl;dr In this article, I’ll provide an in-depth analysis of changes in snowboarding technology over the last 10–15 years. We will examine the evolution of snowboarding equipment, the advancements in snowboarding techniques, and the impact of technology on snowboarding culture, as well as the challenges faced by the industry. Let's dive in!
Originating from a combination of surfing and skateboarding, snowboarding first gained popularity in the 1980s, and has since evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, attracting millions of participants and spectators alike. Technology plays a crucial role in snowboarding, shaping the equipment used, the techniques and styles of riding, and the overall culture of the sport. Advancements in technology over the past 10–15 years—including the materials used in the manufacturing of equipment and the techniques and styles of riding—have enabled snowboarders to achieve new levels of performance, safety, and creativity.
Evolution of Snowboards
Snowboarding equipment has undergone significant changes over the last 10–15 years, greatly impacting the sport and its practitioners. From the design of snowboards to the comfort of boots and the functionality of bindings, advancements in technology have transformed the equipment used in snowboarding.
Shape and Design
One of the most notable changes in snowboard design over the past 10–15 years has been the evolution of rocker and camber profiles—which determine the shape and curve of the snowboard. In the early days of snowboarding, traditional camber profiles were dominant, but in recent years, rocker and hybrid profiles have become more popular, offering improved float and playfulness on soft snow.
The materials used in snowboards have also undergone significant changes, with manufacturers experimenting with new composites, materials, and construction methods. The use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials has become increasingly popular, leading to snowboards that are both stronger and lighter than ever before. This has resulted in improved performance, increased durability, and a more enjoyable ride for snowboarders.
Flex and Stiffness
Flex and stiffness are two important characteristics of snowboards that determine their performance and feel on the snow. In the past, snowboards were often too stiff, making them difficult to control and limiting their ability to absorb impacts. Over the last 10–15 years, advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to produce snowboards with a more balanced flex pattern, resulting in improved stability, control, and responsiveness.
Evolution of Boots
Comfort and Flexibility
In the past, boots were often stiff and inflexible, leading to discomfort and pain for riders. Today, boots are designed with more flexibility, allowing for improved movement, control, warmth, and waterproofing.
Quick-pull and BOA lacing systems have become increasingly popular. These secure and comfortable systems allow snowboarders to quickly and easily adjust the fit of their boots without having to stop and tie their laces.
Footbeds are the insoles inside snowboarding boots that provide cushioning and support. Today’s footbeds—designed to provide increased shock absorption, improved arch support, and reduced pressure on the feet—have resulted in a more enjoyable and comfortable ride than ever before.
The highback is the vertical component of snowboarding bindings that provides support and control to the rider. Over the last 10–15 years, advances in technology have resulted in highback designs that are more ergonomic and responsive, providing snowboarders with improved control and stability. Highbacks are now designed with more adjustability, allowing riders to fine-tune their bindings for the best performance and comfort.
The baseplate is the component of snowboarding bindings that connects the binding to the snowboard. Modern baseplates are lighter, stronger, and more responsive than ever, and are designed to provide improved energy transfer and board feel.
Straps and Buckles
The straps and buckles of snowboarding bindings play a crucial role in providing support and control to the rider. New strap and buckle designs have proven to be stronger, more secure, and more comfortable. New strap designs provide increased adjustability and improved fit, while new buckle designs provide quick and easy adjustments, even while wearing gloves.
Advancements in Snowboarding Techniques
Freeride is a style of snowboarding that centers around the search for fresh powder—usually in un-groomed terrain. The significant advancements in snowboarding technology have had a major impact on this style.
Freeriders now enjoy improved stability and balance while riding down the mountain. Improved precision in turns also lets freeriders carve more accurately and smoothly than ever before, providing access to more challenging terrain with greater ease. In addition, better overall control while riding ensures freeriders can now maintain their speed, balance, and trajectory more effectively.
Freestyle snowboarding is a style of snowboarding that involves performing tricks and stunts on various terrain features, such as jumps, rails, and boxes. Freestyle snowboarders are now performing more complex tricks and stunts than ever. And with improved stability, precision, and control, riders can now push the boundaries of what is possible. Plus, these boarders now also enjoy greater control and stability while in the air—allowing riders to maintain their landing trajectory more effectively. And with improved boot and binding designs, freestyle snowboarders can now enjoy more comfortable and controlled landings, reducing the risk of injury and allowing them to perform longer and more complex tricks.
Alpine snowboarding is a style of snowboarding that involves riding down a mountain at high speeds, often in groomed terrain. Alpine snowboarders are now able to maintain their speed and trajectory more effectively than ever before. And improved maneuverability allows riders to navigate challenging terrain with greater ease, leading to a more enjoyable and efficient ride.
Impact of Technology on Snowboarding Culture
Over the past 10–15 years, snowboarding has become a more accessible and appealing sport. The advancements in equipment design and materials have made it easier for beginners to get started, and have also allowed more experienced riders to take their skills to the next level.
Improved equipment for beginners has made it easier for new riders to learn the basics and progress more quickly, leading to a greater number of people getting into the sport. In addition, the development of equipment suitable for different skill levels has broadened the appeal of snowboarding, making it a more inclusive sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
Development of New Styles
The improvements in equipment design and materials have allowed riders to push the boundaries of what is possible, leading to the emergence of new hybrid styles that blend elements of freeriding, freestyle, and alpine snowboarding. Further, the expansion of terrain park features—such as half-pipes, rails, and jumps—has also played a role in the growth of freestyle snowboarding (and competitions), allowing riders to perform more complex tricks and push their limits in a controlled environment. The increase in competitions and events has also helped to bring snowboarding into the mainstream—increasing its popularity and exposure to new audiences.
Advancements in Safety
The improvements in impact management, equipment durability, and overall rider protection have reduced the risk of injury and allowed riders to focus on their performance, rather than worrying about their safety. For example, because snowboards and bindings have become more durable and resistant to breakage, the risk of equipment failure during a ride has been reduced. In addition, the improvements in impact management have helped to absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury from falls and collisions.
Challenges in Snowboarding Today
One of the biggest challenges facing the snowboarding industry is the impact of technology on the environment. The production of snowboarding equipment requires the use of materials and resources that can result in significant energy consumption and waste.
In addition, the materials used in the production of snowboards, boots, and bindings are often not easily recyclable. This can lead to an increase in waste and environmental pollution, making it difficult for the industry to maintain a high level of environmental sustainability.
Another challenge facing the industry is the high cost of advanced technology. The development of new materials, designs, and technologies is often expensive and can result in higher costs for snowboarding equipment—making it difficult for people of lower socioeconomic groups to access and enjoy the sport.
Further, the rapid pace of technological change in the snowboarding industry can also be a challenge, as the cost of staying up-to-date with the latest equipment can be prohibitive for many people. This divide between those who have access to the latest technology and those who do not makes it difficult for the sport to maintain an image of inclusivity.
Regulation is another challenge facing the snowboarding industry, particularly with regards to safety standards for equipment and limitations on equipment innovation. The development of new technologies and materials can often be slowed or prevented by safety regulations, making it difficult for the industry to maintain its pace of innovation.
In addition, the implementation of safety standards for snowboarding equipment can also result in higher costs, as manufacturers are required to meet certain standards in order to market their products. This can result in a decrease in the availability of affordable equipment, also making it difficult for people of lower socioeconomic groups to access the sport.
Looking to the future, it is clear that snowboarding technology will continue to evolve and improve. In addition, advances in safety technology will likely continue to play a crucial role in the future of snowboarding, as the industry strives to make the sport more accessible and safe for all participants. However, as the industry continues to evolve, it will be important to balance the need for progress with the need to preserve the sport's environmental sustainability and affordability. Nevertheless, the future of snowboarding looks bright, and we can expect to see continued innovation and growth in the coming years, just as there has been over the past 10–15 years.
Connect With Us
In conclusion, technological innovation has had a profound impact on the sport of snowboarding over the past decade and a half. So, if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the latest advancements in snowboard technology, the Winter Sports Experts at Curated are here to help. Our team of experienced snowboarders and industry professionals are passionate about the sport and have a deep understanding of the latest equipment and techniques.
Whether you're a beginner looking for guidance on choosing the right gear, or an experienced rider looking to take your skills to the next level, our team is here to offer free, customized gear recommendations and advice. So, don't hesitate to reach out to us today and let us help you take your snowboarding experience to the next level.