In snowboarding, the style you choose will largely determine how you ride, what snowboard equipment or gear you will be using and where you will be riding. Each style has its own group of fans, community and competitions. Once you have passed the beginner stage, you're bound to explore either freeride or freestyle.
Freeriding, also known as "all-mountain snowboarding," is about mastering an all-around style that will give you the freedom to ride, carve and jump on any terrain -- without focusing on technical tricks or speed. In this snowboarding style, you will spend most of your time on the ground, and you will be able to utilize all that the mountain offers -- from open terrain and backcountry chutes to fresh powder and trees.
It is also suitable for beginners to start with the freeriding style because its only focus is on enjoying the ride and exploring the mountain.
Usually the pieces of equipment needed in freeriding are soft snowboard boots, plate bindings and strap or flow-in bindings. If you still haven't decided on what kind of terrain you like or are most comfortable in, this style is best for you. As the name freeride suggests, feel free to ride.
Most snowboards that you will find in shops and slopes are freeriding snowboards. These characteristics will be able to help you differentiate a freeriding board from other types:
- Freeride boards are relatively longer with a narrower width, deeper side-cut and more directional shape.
- More often than not, the nose will be longer, and the stance of the riders will be slightly positioned towards the rear of the board to make it easier to hang back when riding deep powder.
It may seem awkward the first time you experience freeriding, as you will have to explore the natural terrain of the mountain. It'll be a series of falling, tumbling down and then getting up. Once you get out of the frustration stage, you will soon realize that it's all worth it.
Freestyle is very different from freeriding, as this style includes mostly aerial-like spins, flips and grabs. Freestyle is the most popular style in the snowboarding industry since it is all about the thrill and tricks of the sport. It focuses on jumps, tricks, rail slides, halfpipes and switch riding. The pros can really show what they're made of in this particular category.
Unlike the tricks in freeriding, freestyle techniques are mostly aerial (spins, flips, grabs, etc.), but there are some tricks that can be done on the ground (bonking, grinding, ground spins, etc.). Freestyle snowboarders usually use shorter, softer snowboards and softer snowboard boots to reduce the weight -- making it easier for them to maneuver in the air.
Since the most popular snowboarding events are freestyle competitions, many ski resorts maintain terrain parks with halfpipes, handrails, funboxes and machine-formed jumps for enthusiasts. Freestyle competitions include the halfpipe, quarterpipe, slopestyle and big air.
Take note that most of the time a snowboard is designed for a particular purpose, and it will not perform well if not used in the terrain it is made for. These are the characteristics of freestyle snowboards:
- Boards are shorter, lighter, fatter and easier to maneuver.
- Boards have twin tips, which means that the tail and tip are identical in shape.
Freestyle guarantees an ultimate thrill to the rider, but always take precautions since this includes dangerous stances. The tricks performed in the air are significant, but you also have to concentrate on the process of falling down after the tricks. Once you get used to the tricks, you will eventually develop a more flexible body and perform the stances with ease.
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