General Principles


  • Snowboarding was developed in the 1970s, popularized in the 1980s, and became an Olympic sport in 1998 and a Paralympic sport in 2014.

  • Recreational and competitive snowboarding has evolved over the past 2 decades because of increased popularity, equipment development, and new disciplines.

  • Snowboarders ride on slopes, terrain parks, and half-pipes shared with skiers at winter resorts, as well as in the backcountry.


  • Standard equipment includes a snowboard, bindings, and snowboard boots ( Fig. 79.1 ).

    Figure 79.1, Snowboarding equipment.

  • Snowboard bindings and boots fix the feet to the board and transfer energy forces to the board.

  • Snowboards are made of fiberglass with a wood or foam core and steel edges.

  • Most riders wear soft boots, which are comfortable and allow increased foot and ankle movement.

  • Hard boots are also available, which have a hard plastic shell similar to ski boots and are designed for increased control and precision of movements.

  • Additional safety equipment includes helmets, wrist guards, goggles, and hip and knee pads.


  • Alpine-style races (parallel or giant slalom)

  • Half-/super-pipe

  • Snowboard cross—multiple riders race simultaneously through a course of ramps and jumps

  • Big-air events—riders jump for maximum height with aerial maneuvers

  • Slopestyle—snowboarders race through an obstacle course full of rails and tables

Biomechanical Principles

  • Both feet are positioned nearly perpendicular to the long axis of the board and direction of movement ( Fig. 79.2 ). This prevents the board from acting independently as a lever and applying torque on the knee, which occurs in skiing.

    Figure 79.2, Snowboard stance.

  • Riders move with one shoulder and leg leading the way down the slope (see Fig. 79.2 ). This creates a partial blind side, increasing the risk of collision. Catching the toe or heel edge of the board on snow can cause falls forward onto the rider’s hands and knees or backward onto the occiput, sacrum, and hands, respectively.

Injury Patterns

  • Injury patterns vary based on skill level.

  • Injury rate varies between 1 and 6 per 1000 snowboarder days.

  • Upper extremity injuries are the most common injury in snowboarders regardless of skill level.

  • Majority of beginner snowboarders’ injuries are the result of falls forward or backward after one edge of the board suddenly gets caught on the snow surface, causing a loss of balance.

  • Competitive riders have more lower extremity injuries, including knee injuries, because of falls from jumps/landings. As a result of increased velocity and aerials, competitive riders’ injuries tend to be more severe.

  • Wrist injuries are 10 times more common in snowboarders than in skiers.

  • Flexible snowboard boots provide less support than ski boots, making snowboarders more susceptible to ankle injuries.

  • Head and neck injury rates are higher in snowboarders than in skiers.

  • Snowboarders are 2.5 times more likely to sustain a fracture than skiers, with the most common location being the wrist.

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