Skiing and Snowboarding: It’s all Downhill from Here
Sport. Recreation. Transportation. Skiing and snowboarding are all these things. Skiing’s history can be traced back to more than 4,000 years ago, and snowboarding about 40 years. These wintry pastimes offer both beginner fun and the satisfaction of a lifetime of improvement and achievement.
Skiing and snowboarding are made up of many types of competitions. The odd terminology of the two sports might confuse beginners but the sites below will lay out the rich history and robust world of the two.
- It’s hard to say definitively what the “rules” of skiing and snowboarding are. Not only do rules vary between competitions and organizations but even safety rules and practices differ slightly from country to country. It’s all about context.
- It is the skier/snowboarder’s responsibility to understand the law of the land. When gliding down unknown trails, do not assume that what is appropriate at home is OK on the new terrain.
- Check the sites in the “What are the major governing bodies of skiing and snowboarding?” section of this guide for information on the various rules used for each league and organization.
To learn about the history of skiing and snowboarding …
is the Web site and official journal of the International Skiing History Association. The site is a bit disorganized and confusing but it is a valuable resource if you want a serious look at the history of skiing. You’ll find interesting articles such as “A Short History of Alpine Skiing”
and “A short history of skis
.” Look for user forums and information on ski museums around the world. If you find it difficult to navigate through the content, use the site map on the left navigation bar to help.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s history timeline is a detailed and well-designed look into the modern history of the Olympic sport. Scroll down the timeline on the left, and click on any event for a detailed explanation.
provides an informative and entertaining look at the history of snowboarding. A black-and-white photo of the “snurfer,” the earliest known prototype of a snowboard, helps to illustrate how far the sport has come.
hosts this nicely done video, “A History of Snowboarding in 2 Minutes Flat.” Get the rundown on the development of the sport over the last 40 or so years, along with cool footage of riders at every stage of its evolution.
For ski and snowboard museums …
The New England Ski Museum
has a number of interesting articles on ski history in its “Explore Skiing History” section. You’ll also find information on the museum’s collections and a museum shop on this easily navigable site.
Skiing and snowboarding competitions and rankings are governed by a variety of organizations at the international, national, and local levels. Rules and competition style can differ among these groups. Here you’ll find listings for the major international and American organizations.
- Because of the scattered nature of ski and snowboard organizations, usually the best place to find statistics and rankings for competitors is on the relevant organization’s site.
- Unlike the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball, most ski and snowboard associations are built from the ground up, and rely on a large competitor base to function. If you want to start competing, at any level, explore the sites below for opportunities.
For international organizations …
The International Ski Federation (FIS)
is the premier international ski and snowboard organization, governing World Cup and World Championship competitions in a number of ski and snowboard disciplines. On its site you’ll find a vast amount of information on its competitions and athletes, including event information, statistics, rules, and organizational information. Use the left navigation bar to find what you need.
The Olympic Movement
includes the various federations and organizations that follow the Olympic charter, and lists all the ski and snowboard events in the Games. Click on any discipline for a look at its history in the Olympic Games and before, as well as information on the equipment used, a glossary of terms, and an animated demonstration and explanation of the event.
is a division of ESPN, and is home to the Winter X Games. The games are one of the newest winter sport competitions, and one of the most popular. You’ll find a wealth of articles, features, and information on all past and present Winter X Games here.
For American national or local organizations …
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association
governs Olympic ski and snowboarding on a national level. The site has information on the organization as a whole, as well as rules, and competition and TV schedules. Connect to the U.S. Ski Team
and the U.S. Snowboard Team
Web sites, which feature competition results and personal information about members. You can also generate ranking lists for any of its disciplines using a number of customized options.
The United States of America Snowboard Association
describes itself as the first governing body exclusively for grassroots-level snowboarding. Learn more about its history and the competitions it conducts, or use the top navigation bar to find information on riders, statistics, and how to get involved.
Skiing and snowboarding are seasonal pastimes but they don’t have to be seasonal passions. Even in the off season, news, blogs, discussion, and multimedia on the Internet can keep you going until that first snowfall.
- Many ski and snowboard magazine sites contain a lot of multimedia content, including videos on the homepages. If you have a slower Internet connection, it might be difficult to view some of these sites.
For ski and snowboard magazines …
Transworld Snowboarding Magazine
is one of the most popular snowboarding publications out there. There’s a great deal of multimedia content here for free, including over a hundred how-to videos, a long list of resort articles and reviews, a product review section, features, news, and an event calendar. Access all these sections easily from the top navigation bar.
Ski Racing Magazine
offers a more traditional collection of snow sport news articles. Use the top dropdown navigation bar to access lists of recent news for ski and snowboard racing, industry reports, and other features. The magazine’s full content isn’t online but the site is rounded out with discussion forums and an events calendar.
is a growing publication and online community for female snowboarders, based in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It might not have as much content as the bigger magazines but it makes up for it with a fun look and well-designed layout. You’ll find interesting features, rider profiles, resort reviews, articles, and some great riding links.
covers snowboarding, skiing, and other snow sports for “snow travellers.” You’ll find articles and features on the best snow outside the United States, places that you’d never think to go for a snow outing, and the gear you should take along with you. The site’s simple design and laid-back tone make it a joy to read.
For ski and snowboard blogs …
is a very professional-looking blog focused on skiing in the American west, with plenty of personal asides from the author. During ski season, he attempts to post useful information on resorts and the skiing you’ll find at them.
has an author named “Ise,” who writes from Switzerland about all of his outdoor adventures, including ski touring, hiking, ice climbing, and cycling. This blog, containing a number of nice photo galleries and archives organized by topic, is well designed and pleasant to look at.
hosts many ski blogs that “keep the spirit of freeskiing alive and thrivin'.” Browse its entertaining video and photo sections, read interesting articles, and make use of its growing “Resorts” and “Gear” sections.
Even if you are only able to hit the slopes a few times each year, you don’t have to sit around and let your skills deteriorate during the downtime. There are plenty of ski and snowboard tips on the Internet that can keep you on the upslope of the learning curve.
- Although there are good resources online to introduce you to the sports of skiing and snowboarding, no amount of time online can replace solid mountain experience, and the eye of an attentive instructor. Just about every mountain and resort has professional instructors who can help you improve no matter what your level. Newbies especially should consider a private or group lesson before making that first solo run down the mountain.
- You’ll find a great deal of videos and “tutorials” online but please place these in context. No matter how nonchalant the trickster may seem, she most likely invested years in preparation and training, something you should do before attempting that trick yourself.
For ski instruction …
covers a great deal of ski theory and implementation. You’ll find print instruction for many aspects of skiing, including beginning to ski and skiing off-piste, as well as a number of video and photo lessons from two engaging ski instructors.
For snowboarding instruction …
features great animated tutorials for basic skills and more advanced tricks, accessible from the “Learn Snowboarding Online” box on the right of the page. For more information on all aspects of snowboarding, explore the articles on the homepage or on the navigation bar under the “Info” tab.
The San Diego Union-Tribune
brings you a very barebones introduction to the basics of snowboarding. The accompanying illustrations under “Snowboarding 101” are particularly helpful for the novice.
For alpine boarding instruction …
has help for the novice and the expert in alpine snowboarding. Not all the articles have illustrations but they skillfully take you through the beginning stages of this intense sport. For more advanced technical aspects, take a look at the “Tech Articles” section on the left navigation bar.
The Carver’s Almanac 2007
is an authoritative site that can help you with all aspects of alpine boarding including equipment, style and technique, safety tips, and a directory of resorts around the world.
For snow sports health, safety, and fitness …
lays out a regimen of at-home fitness exercises to help condition your body for snowboarding. Many of the routines have accompanying photographs to help ensure you have the proper form. Use the left navigation bar and the lists at the bottom of the page to explore all the workouts on this site.
takes a sober and professional look at ski and snowboard injuries. The site provides statistics and scientific and laymen information on the types of injuries these snow sports typically involve. Learn how you can avoid becoming one of the statistics you see on these pages. In the “Links” section you’ll also find numerous safety and health resources for skiers and snowboarders.
Midwest Skijorers Club
has the sport for you if you’ve ever been skiing and thought, “If only my dog was here … pulling me.” Also known to use horses, and to replace the skis with bikes, scooters, or their own two feet, this club is unconventional indeed.
Having the right ski and snowboard equipment is crucial for your enjoyment and safety on the mountain. You’re tucked into your gear for long periods of time and under extreme conditions, so the right fit and settings are of paramount importance. There’s no substitute for a test ride or a stroll in boots and other gear but the sites below can help point you in the right direction for the gear you need to get on the slopes.
- There are many deals to be had online but with ski and snowboard equipment, fit is everything. Try out the gear you’re interested in at a local brick-and-mortar store, and then go online to find the cheapest price.
- Every ski and board maker has his own unique style and theory of equipment, and many avid skiers and snowboarders tend to stick to one company they find works best for them.
- The top-of-the-line equipment for a professional is not necessarily the best equipment for a beginner. If you’re new to the slopes, getting on the same skis as your favorite Olympian could be very dangerous. Shop for your level, and you’ll be happy on the slopes.
The Carver’s Almanac 2007
has the most extensive guide to alpine snowboarding equipment online. Each category of gear is accompanied by a selection guide to help you make the right choice.
The Ski Equipment Shopping Guide
has useful lists of the major manufacturers with links to and descriptions of their Web sites. Look for skis, snowboards, and all related gear.
Skiing and snowboarding require many things but perhaps none more important than a mountain covered in snow. Finding that mountain requires a bit of planning, preparation, and know-how. The sites below can help you find resort listings and reviews, snow condition reports, and guides to some of the lesser-known areas to get your snow on.
- Most ski areas don’t bother updating their snow reports during the off season (how many times can they say “dry as a whistle?”), so don’t be put off by the lack of activity on some of the weather and snow report sites. They will return!
- User-generated reviews are invariably tied to the reviewer’s level of experience and preferences, so take the reviews with a grain of salt.
For resort reviews and directories …
SnoCountry Mountain Reports
is an invaluable tool for planning a snow sports trip. Its “Quick Resort Finder” is conveniently organized by U.S. region and state. Resort listings include overviews of the mountain experience, snow reports, mountain operations details, trail maps, and even mountain Web cams for some. You’ll also find a lot of useful information to help prepare for your trip, including advice on equipment, general ski and snowboard riding and safety tips, an events calendar, and information on ski resort real estate.
World Snowboard Guide
is chock full of extras to complement its easy-to-use mountain/resort guide. Browse the guide by country to learn about the various snow opportunities each country and region has to offer. After you register with the site, use the “My WSG” feature in the “Community section” to log and plan your own trips. It also offers news, tips, event information, and more.
Mad Dog Ski
is a ski/snowboard trip-planning site that focuses entirely on a handful of resorts in France, Switzerland, and Austria. Visitors will find comprehensive information that is well organized and a pleasure to read.
has one of the most extensive international resort listings, though some entries only have cursory information.
For snow and weather conditions …
brings you weather and snow reports, as well as trail and area maps, ticket information, and a statistics-comparing tool for a large number of U.S. ski areas. Unique to this site is its “Powder Alerts” tool, which allows you to select ski areas nationwide and receive e-mails when any of them receives a threshold amount of snow. You can also request weekly reports.
has many powerful tools to keep you informed on snow conditions worldwide. The “Weather Maps” section takes you to a sophisticated, multi-layered map that displays weather and geographic information. The straightforward “Where is snow forecast in the next __ days?” section (in the “Resort Weather” drop-down menu) lets you instantly see the best areas for snow in the immediate future. Take time to explore all the rich features of this site.
is a simple but extensive collection of ski area Web cams (3,757 in 45 countries) from around the world. Get an up-close look at what’s really going on at the mountain.
combines its useful snow report and resort information sections with a “Reviews” tab, featuring a color-coded rating system that lets you see instantly what others think of each ski area.
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