Snowboard slowly evolved over two decades, growing out of surfing, and finally took hold in the early 1980s. The first official snowboard competition was held in Colorado in 1981. The International Ski Federation recognized the sport in 1994, making snowboard an officially sanctioned discipline eligible for the Olympic Winter Games. Halfpipe and individual giant slalom were introduced in 1998, the latter turned “parallel” at the Games four years later. In 2006, snowboard cross made its debut.
In the halfpipe, one snowboarder at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, twists and tricks on the inside of a half-cylinder-shaped snow tube or ramp while moving from one side of the halfpipe to the other. The course is 110 metres long and 15 metres wide, enclosed by walls of 3.5 metres. Riders are scored on variety, difficulty, height and execution of manoeuvres, cleanness of landings, and technical merit.
In the parallel giant slalom, two snowboarders race head-to-head down a course, turning through a series of gates. The fastest goes on to the next round. The top finishers compete in a total of nine runs. In the end, the winners of the two semifinals race for the gold medal while the losers compete for the bronze medal.
In snowboard cross, four racers start in a pack down a course, racing against each other over rolling terrain and a series of jumps and ramps. The competition course is made up of different sections with: whoops, waves, banks, spine, kickers, etc., providing a variety of terrains and obstacles. The fastest two racers from each heat move on to the next round.