Written by Joe Lawry - a few years ago.
Mountain boarding is a new board sport, derived from snowboarding. It was originally intended to take the place of snowboarding during warm months while there was no snow available. It was only in the last decade that mountain boarding has developed into a sport in its own right.
A mountain board is similar to an over-sized skateboard The size of the deck is shorter than the average snowboard approximately 100 cm in length with either three or four wheels. The wheels consist of small plastic hubs with tyres of between 8" and 12" diameter. The wheel size varies depending on which type of riding is done. Like a snowboard (and unlike a skateboard) the feet of the rider are attached to the board deck with bindings, however boots are not required. The boards are steered a lot like a skateboard however can easily slide out like a snowboard to slow the rider down. Most of the tricks in the sport are very snowboard based however skate tricks have influenced the sport along with BMX and Mountain biking. All Terrain Boards can be ridden in many different ways, including downhills, over jumps, and being towed along with power kites.
Mountainboards have been around in one form or another since the early 1970’s. For many years skateboarders have attempted to ride their boards off road and on unpaved surfaces using various board designs that universally employ over-sized wheels capable of handling rough all-terrain surfaces. The sport has developed principally through grass roots participation and individual riders and companies who have developed their own unique board designs and who’ve contributed to the sport through furthering participation in the sport in their respective regions. Mountainboarding received worldwide interest in 1995, as the first high performance Mountainboards became available at specialty retailers around the globe. Currently there are over twenty-five Manufacturers or Brands and the sport continues to grow rapidly. Five of the top players in the industry are pushing the sport further and further each year with the introduction of advanced lightweight boards being brought onto the market. With this new technology the riders have been able to push the sport further with inverted tricks and huge spins slowly becoming stock moves in competitions.
From the sports earliest days there has been a competitive element encompassing two distinct disciplines: Racing and Freestyle. Competitions within the sport have been organized and held regionally since 1994 in the USA and 1997 in the UK. The sport has made great strides due to its competitive aspects. There are two main disciplines in the sport of Mountain Boarding, Freestyle and Racing. These two aspects of the sport branch off into their own subcategories keeping competitions slightly more diverse.
The two disciplines of Freestyle include Big Air, which involves riders doing aerial tricks such as grabs, spins, flips and 1 or no foot airs over large table top style jumps, or over wooden kickers to a landing ramp. Riders hit these jumps at speeds between 15-50 kmph depending on the size of the jump. Competitors are judged on the difficulty of trick, style, height and landing. Mountain boarders use many different ways of getting speed to hit the jumps which gravity always being the major factor. A steep dirt or grass hill is a usual sight before a tabletop however when that is not available man-made roll in ramps can be easily constructed with scaffolding and plywood.
The Second discipline of Freestyle is Slope Style. Slope Style is a relatively new aspect in the sport. Using the same idea as in snowboarding, riders hit a course with many different obstacles to pull tricks off and gain points. Obstacles include tabletops, kickers, different sized and shaped rails, drops, hip jumps, wall rides, quarter pipes and sometimes even half pipes. Slope Style is an awesome spectacle because of the variety of lines that can be taken by the rider. The requirements of a Slope Style course include an open inclined slope; multiple dirt jumps and landings with an adequate roll in and run out.
The Three aspects of Racing include Boardercross racing, Dual Slalom and Freeriding. Boardercross is currently the most popular form of racing all over the world. This involves 4 riders racing down a track with multiple obstacles, the first at the bottom wins. The obstacles include Berms, rollers, doubles, triples, drops, step-ups and step-downs. Boardercross tracks can be anywhere from 200 metres long to up to 1 kilometre, sometimes more.
The second aspect of Racing is Dual Slalom. This event is slowly becoming less popular around the world as most riders want fast races with lots of obstacles. It is however still practiced by carving enthusiasts around the world. Dual Slalom consists of 2 riders racing down two identical slalom tracks marked out by cones or flags on the group. The tracks sometimes consist of small table top jumps to pick up more speed against your competitor. Dual Slalom tracks are usually run on grass slopes but work well on the dirt and the road as well.
The third aspect of Racing is called Freeriding. Freeriding is a relatively new event in the sport and consists of riders riding the natural terrain down a mountain or a hill. These tracks sometimes consist of single tracks, drops, steep grass or dirt slopes and sometimes fire roads. Freeriding requires a lot of skill and confidence as you are usually riding very fast trails and hitting speeds up to 70 kmph depending on the course.
However just because there are all these different set ways to ride doesn’t mean you have to ride like that. There are many people out there who stay away from the competitions and are just into carving their own lines down grass hills, having fun in skateparks, or riding other urban environments, after all, they don’t call them All Terrain Boards for nothing, you really can ride anywhere you want, anytime you want, and however you want.