A lot of people ask the question, what is freestyle snowboarding? It’s pretty easy to get confused by terms like freeriding snowboarding and freestyle snowboarding when you’re new to this exhilarating sport.
There are several different types of snowboarding styles and techniques like free cave, split boarding, slopestyle, jibbing, big air, half-pipe, boardercross, big mountain, and snowboard racing.
Freestyle snowboarding is one of the most enjoyed styles, and it is also the preferred style for those who are brand new to snowboarding because it involves practicing or doing a wide range of tricks.
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What Is Freestyle Snowboarding?
Freestyle snowboarding is the most popular form of snowboarding because this method offers plenty of challenges and gives you a thrill. Just about every snowboarding track or resort has a freestyle course in the event.
This snowboarding method involves doing different types of jumps and tricks that are often enjoyed, like a half-pipe, switch, quarter-pipe, slopestyle, and big air.
This winter sport involves doing plenty of air and ground tricks while riding your snowboard.
What Is the Difference Between Freestyle and Freeride Snowboarding?
Many people struggle to tell the difference between freestyle and freeride snowboarding. These two different riding styles are not a competition, and both can be a lot of fun. Some riders simply prefer freeriding or freestyling or might just choose a freeride board or a freestyle board. There are also lots of individuals who enjoy both freestyle and freeriding styles or who might linger in the middle between these two distinctive winter sports.
There is no real definition or specific term that defines the difference between freeriding and freestyling. But, in general, the main differences between these two boarding styles or courses are as follows:
This form of snowboarding mostly includes off-pristine and powder boarding. The style is focused on going fast, taking gnarly lines, and includes a couple of natural tricks or features.
Freeriding can be a great snowboarding style for complete beginners because you don’t have to be a pro to pull off most of the tricks or to complete most of these courses. The tracks are often natural mountainscapes but can be man-made. This style will get your heart racing and give you a workout even though it doesn’t include too many complex activities.
Freestyle snowboarding is more complex because it involves more tricks. These courses are usually man-made in snowboard parks and often include features like rails so you can give different types of stunts like jibbing on rails, pistine buttering, jumps, and tricks a try. This form of snowboarding can be challenging, and most of the tricks will take a bit of practice to perfect.
Lots of beginner snowboarders also love freestyle courses because they can practice the same trick repeatedly until they finally master the technique.
Difference Between Freestyle and Freeride Boards
The boards for freestyle and freeride snowboarding are different from each other. They vary in shape, size, binding position, and flex rating. You can also use an all-mountain snowboard that can be functional for both freestyle and freeriding techniques and courses.
Freestyle snowboards are usually shorter than freeride boards. The shape is a true twin (the same in the front and back), while freeride boards tend to have a directional shape (difference in the tail and nose). Some (not all) freestyle boards can offer more flex compared to freeride boards.
Other Types of Snowboarding Styles
There are different types of snowboarding styles. Some snowboarding enthusiasts love to give all of these styles a try, while most typically favor one or two styles and work towards perfecting these styles. Most riders fall between the freeride and freestyle snowboard riding style, but it is good to take note of the following different types.
If you love lots of powder or have a snowboard that is preferable for powder days or powder courses, this might be the right style for you. Powder snowboarding is usually done on a course with fresh, dry snow powder to create a soft and smooth riding surface.
Advanced and pro athletes usually prefer this boarding form because the reduced friction between board and ice supports faster riding. These types of courses can be hard for beginners.
All-mountain is a type of style that includes a bit of everything. The entire mountain is your riding course, and you like to enjoy any type of trail, including groomed trails, backcountry trails, uneven terrains, the park, and more.
These types of all-mountain riders tend to spend more time on specific trails and parks than on the mountain. You sometimes like to go off-the-grid and try different course types and love to practice different stunts or tricks on a dedicated course.
Urban boards, street boards, or jib boards are preferable for this type of riding style. It involves flexing over rails, pipes, and pieces of wood and traveling across all sorts of urban terrains.
In snowboard racing, competitors attempt to beat each other by having the fastest time down a course. This form of snowboarding is usually done against the clock but can also include two or more physical athletes competing down a specific track.
What Type of Board Do You Need for Freestyle Snowboarding?
Freestyle snowboards are usually very light, short, and have a high flex rating, so you can perform a wider range of stunts or tricks in different terrains.
These boards usually have a limited edge grip and are not the best for high-speed racing or carving turns.
Freestyle boards mostly have twin or directional twin tips where the front and end of the board are the same size and shape.
Beginner riders usually prefer freestyle boards because they are easier to ride at lower speeds.
Here is a quick look at the technical specs of your average freestyle snowboard.
The boards usually have a medium-soft, soft, or medium flex with a rating of 1-6/10.
These boards usually have a true twin shape, so snowboarders can ride them on either side or make easy flips without affecting their speed.
The setback stance is usually centered, while boards that are built for racing have a forward stance.
The chamber profile of these boards can vary, but they usually have a rocker in the profile since a rocker is ideal for performing tricks likejumpsor can give you more control in short turns.
The base of these boards is usually extruded, but some boards have a sintered common base.
Snowboarding Destinations for Freestyling
Freestylers are always looking for courses that allow them to learn or try out new tricks. The best places to learn new tricks or stunts are usually at a resort or snow park. Some freestylers also enjoy using a halfpipe because these courses typically have man-made structures like stair handrails, fresh shredding snow, compacted snow sections, hills, valleys, and other types of obstacles that are ideal for performing tricks and jumps.
Freestylers may also enjoy this type of snowboarding style on any given track, mountain, or snowy patch they come across.
Fashion Style of Freestylers
In the freestyle vs. freeride snowboarding style, there are quite a few stereotypes.
Freestylers are often compared toskateboarders. Many of them prefer baggy pants with visible underwear, clashing colors, and many have a rebellious nature. Freeriders, on the other hand, are not as rebellious and don’t have the hipster vibe. The clothes are still baggy to allow plenty of movement but aren’t worn to reveal underwear. The colors tend to be muted or match up better, and those who love freeriding are often seen mountain biking.
While these stereotypes are common, it is hardly a rule or forced lifestyle. It is also known that most snowboard riders fall in the middle between freestyle riders and freeride riders.
Hipster and skateboarding style snowboarders are often spotted enjoying freeride courses or riding techniques. Freeride or mountain biking snowboarders are sometimes spotted attempting or practicing more stunts in their casual outings.
In the end, it’s all about finding what works for you and having fun.
Stunts and Activities Freestyles Enjoy
Snowboarders enjoy a huge variety of techniques, stunts, tricks, and types of activities when they go freestyling. The sky’s the limit, and you can practice or have fun with just about any trick or activity under the sun. Here is a quick look at some of the activities freestylers love to try.
Jibbingis usually done on a metal rail, box, bench, concrete ledge, wall, vehicle, rock, or log. This activity involves jumping, sliding, or riding on an object other than snow. This freestyle technique usually occurs in snowboard parks or resorts but can also be done in urban territories.
Switch-Stance and Fakie
In this trick, the snowboarder positions the back foot forward or reverses their natural stance. It is also referred to as ariding switch.
Straight airs like ollie, nollie, switch ollie, and many others involve making a small jump in the air.
Snowboard grabtricks involve grabbing some part of the board with one or both hands while in motion or mid-air.
Snowboard spinsare usually performed with 180 up to 360 increments, and these rotations can be done mid-air or on ground level.
In slopestyle courses, competitors perform a variety of tricks while moving down, over, across, or up to different terrains and features. Slopestyle courses can have all sorts of obstacles like boxes, rails, jumps, jib accessories, and many others. A judge usually observes the sport, and competitors have to perform a series of mistake-free activities to win within a specific amount of time.
This type of freestyling course usually has competitors launch off a man-made jump. Various tricks are done in the air, and riders need to make a clean landing when performing complex tricks. But not all big air competitions are for freestylers since some competitions only require speed, height, and distance.
Halfpipe courses are designed with a semi-circular ditch in the mountain or ramp. Competitors can perform all sorts of tricks while sliding down the 8-23 foot high walls or while they are extended in the air above the pipe walls.
These courses are a combination of racing and freestyling. Four to six riders usually compete head-to-toe down a course that includes various jumps and obstacles made of snow. Riders are judged by their speed, performance, and landing while they race down tracks, including slippery or powdery slopes.
So, what is freestyle snowboarding? In short, we can define this as a fun winter activity that involves performing various stunts on different terrains while riding a snowboard. But the spectrum is much broader since those who enjoy freestyling also appreciate other activities like racing or freeriding.
Many beginners flock towards freestyling because it seems fun to try and easy to practice different tricks. But most riders eventually level out and focus on a combination of speed and stunts and end up somewhere between freestyling and freeriding.
Snowboarding is a fun activity whether you lean towards freestyling, freeriding, all-mountain, downhill racing, or prefer an urban setting. There is a style for everyone, and trying different techniques is the only way to find out what you truly like.
We hope you found our guide useful and that you can now tell which riding style you would prefer on your first snowboarding adventure. If you want to learn more about other snowboarding techniques or the best snowboarding gear, you should look at some of the other guides we have onSnowAuthorities.