Shredding the Past: A History of Freeride Snowboarding Competitions

Big Mountain freeriding

Shredding the Past: A History of Freeride Snowboarding Competitions


Freeride snowboarding competitions represent the pinnacle of adventure and skill in the snowboarding world. These events push athletes to the limits of their abilities in some of the most challenging and breathtaking natural terrain. The history of freeride snowboarding competitions is a thrilling journey that has evolved alongside the sport itself. In this article, we’ll take a ride through the past to explore how freeride snowboarding competitions have developed from the early days to their current status as adrenaline-pumping spectacles.

The Birth of Freeride Snowboarding

The roots of freeride snowboarding can be traced back to the early days of snowboarding in the 1970s and 1980s. Snowboarders who sought untracked powder and challenging backcountry terrain were the pioneers of this movement. They ventured into the untamed wilderness, away from the groomed slopes of traditional resorts, to experience the raw, untouched beauty of the mountains.

The Advent of the Freeride World Tour (FWT)

The turning point in the history of freeride snowboarding competitions came with the inception of the Freeride World Tour (FWT) in 1996. Similar to freeride skiing, the FWT started with the “Xtreme Verbier” competition in Verbier, Switzerland. This event marked the world’s first extreme snowboarding competition, where riders were judged on their skill, style, and line choice down steep, challenging mountain faces.

The FWT quickly gained popularity, expanding to include multiple international stops, including Chamonix, Alaska, and Hakuba, Japan. These venues offered riders a diverse range of terrain, from towering peaks to deep powder bowls, and showcased their ability to navigate extreme conditions while performing stylish and daring tricks.

Safety and Judging Criteria Evolution

In the early days of freeride snowboarding competitions, safety was a major concern. Riders often took on extreme risks with minimal safety equipment and avalanche awareness. However, as the sport grew, so did the focus on safety. Athletes and event organizers adopted stricter safety protocols, including avalanche mitigation measures, mandatory avalanche safety gear, and increased collaboration with professional mountain guides.

The judging criteria for freeride snowboarding competitions have also evolved over time. Initially, riders were primarily assessed on their speed and the size of their airs. Today, judges consider a broader spectrum of factors, including line choice, control, fluidity, technique, and overall style. This shift in judging criteria emphasizes a more well-rounded approach to freeride snowboarding.

The Rise of Freeride Culture

Freeride snowboarding competitions have not only given birth to a sport but also to a culture and lifestyle that celebrates adventure, exploration, and self-expression. Snowboarders who are drawn to freeriding share a passion for the mountains and the unique thrill of shredding untouched snow. This community values camaraderie, creativity, and the pursuit of powder turns in some of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth.

The Future of Freeride Snowboarding

The future of freeride snowboarding competitions is undeniably exciting. As the sport continues to gain traction and recognition, more events are being added to the calendar, and technological advancements have brought the action to a global audience through live streaming and awe-inspiring drone footage.

Moreover, the sport is becoming more inclusive, with efforts to welcome a diverse range of athletes and enthusiasts, ensuring that the world of freeride snowboarding remains vibrant and dynamic for years to come.


The history of freeride snowboarding competitions is a thrilling narrative of adventure, innovation, and the unrelenting pursuit of personal excellence in some of the world’s most challenging terrain. From its early beginnings in the wilderness to its current status as a global sport, freeride snowboarding continues to captivate the hearts and imaginations of athletes and fans alike. It embodies the spirit of freedom, creativity, and the eternal quest for the perfect line down the mountain, ensuring that the legacy of freeride snowboarding competitions will continue to evolve and inspire future generations of riders.

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