Using the words ‘sick’, ‘rad’ and ‘shreddin’ would not have been standard for a Winter Olympics commentator three decades ago - but that all started to change when snowboard made its Games debut in 1998.
Since its introduction in Nagano, the sport has exploded to become one of the most diverse and thrilling in the Olympic programme, and Team GB are playing a major role in the party. Snowboarding features speed, skill and tricks - add to that the traditional rivalry with skiing, and we have something very tasty indeed.
It was not until the 1990s that ski resorts around the world properly started to accept snowboarding, but you would be hard pressed to avoid it now. Since making its debut at the Olympics, the USA has been far and away the most successful country with 31 medals in total. The next nation really does not come close - lagging some 18 medals behind are Switzerland.
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Team GB first made the podium at Sochi 2014, when Jenny Jones became the first British athlete to win an Olympic snowboarding medal by claiming bronze in the slopestyle competition, before Billy Morgan followed that four years later with a third-place finish in big air.
The sport’s biggest star is undoubtedly the USA’s Shaun White, as the record medallist with three halfpipe gold medals. He is competing at his fifth Winter Games and chasing a fourth gold medal.
Chloe Kim will be there, having made history as the youngest woman to win Olympic snowboard gold in Pyeongchang, as will the Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecka, who secured a remarkable double in 2018 when she became the first person to win two gold medals at the same Winter Games in different sports, claiming titles in both alpine skiing and snowboard, truly breaking the mould.
There will be 11 snowboard events in Beijing, including the first ever mixed team snowboard cross.
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Team GB snowboard participants and medal prospects
Charlotte Bankes is arguably Britain’s best chance of a snowboard medal in Beijing, following a stunning 2021. The snowboard cross athlete won a brilliant gold at the World Championships in February and followed that up with World Cup titles in Bakuriani and Montafon. She will be a feared opponent at the Games.
Katie Ormerod has battled back from horrific injuries to make the Games and finished 2021 strongly with top-10 finishes at World Cup events in both slopestyle and Big Air.
Meanwhile, at his first Winter Games, Huw Nightingale will be hoping to add yet more success to his family's rich sporting history, after his cousin Matt Rotherham won cycling gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.
On the global stage, Shaun White is the sport’s biggest star with halfpipe golds in 2006, 2010 and 2018.
Chloe Kim made history by becoming the youngest woman to win Olympic snowsport gold with her halfpipe title in Pyeongchang, aged 17. She has since repeated the trick at the 2019 and 2021 World Championships.
One of the biggest stories of the 2018 Games revolved around Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic, who became the first person ever to win golds in two separate sports at the Winter Olympics - having claimed the Super-G ski title as well as snowboard’s parallel giant slalom.
Snowboard events and format
There will be 11 snowboard events at the Games, they are:
- Parallel Giant Slalom (men/women)
- Snowboard Cross (men/women)
- Halfpipe (men/women)
- Slopestyle (men/women)
- Big Air (men/women)
- Mixed Team Snowboard Cross
How the medals are settled depends on the discipline. Halfpipe, big air and slopestyle are all judged on a number of criteria, including the amount of air an athlete gets, their landing and the difficulty.
The other competitions are all races, while the snowboard cross involves jumps too, though these are obstacles on the battle to the line.
Like we saw at Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee is keen to build on the success of mixed events and the sport’s contribution will be the mixed team snowboard cross.
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Genting Snow Park will host the snowboard events, as well as the freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping and biathlon, although big air will be staged at the Shougang Industrial Park - the world’s first permanent big air venue.
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