When it snows in the mountains, it’s time to taste the cold and take flight in the silence of the snowflakes...

Board enthusiasts are lucky people with sports from skateboarding on land and surfing on the sea to kiteboarding in the air. But there is one board sport that’s different from all the others. One that requires special conditions, cooperative weather and certain conditions on the ground. First, winter has to come. Then snow has to fall so that the snowboarding buff can have fun for at most two, maybe three months of the year. Only when it snows and conditions are right for riding can one become part of nature and make the mountains to bow to one’s wishes.

Although snowboarding is regarded as a winter sport, the masters have succeeded in making it a sport for all seasons. A true snowboarder uses the seasons when he can’t ride to prepare for winter by doing exercises to strengthen his muscles, watching the experts on TV and the internet, and increasing his knowledge. The board for him is not a means of descending but of leaping ever higher. All he fears is an injury that will temporarily put him out of commission.

Developed by Sherman Poppen in the 1960’s, the ‘snurfer’ is regarded as the original snowboard even though it looks more like a small water ski. There is a rope attached to the tip of the board and a rough area in the middle to keep the rider from slipping backwards. Jack Burton Carpenter, who entered competitions with the snurfer, thought it would be advantageous to have his feet strapped to the board, and he turned out to be right. In the same period, Jeff Grell designed the original ‘HyBak binding'. Demetre Molovick invented the ‘Winterstick’ as well as designing the Swallow-Tail and laminate construction. Snowboarders used ski boots until the 1980’s when the more sturdy ‘Sorels’ and ‘Snopack’ shoes came to the rescue. Chuck Barfoot and Tom Sims also played important roles in the development of snowboarding equipment.

Snowboarding came to Turkey at the beginning of the 2000’s. Özer Ayık, Chairman of the Skiing Federation of Turkey, says that snowboarding has been a branch of skiing with its own technical committee and calendar and rules of competition since 2006. “Our first national snowboarding team was founded in the same year,” says Ayık. “Our team has been active ever since under head trainer Thomas Bernik and board member Ali Oto, who is in charge of snowboarding. This is only one of our ongoing activities aimed at spreading snowboarding in Turkey.”

Although enthusiasts have the run of the slopes today, their freedom of movement was quite restricted until recently. In the early days snowboarders were permitted to use only seven percent of ski runs in the U.S. They were not very well liked because they caused ruts in the snow, throwing it into the air. Times have changed however and some 97% of ski slopes are now open to snowboarders. What’s more, over half  those slopes now boast the ‘halfpipes’ that are every snowboarder’s dream. A halfpipe is a semi-cylindrical chute that allows riders to perform jumps and other tricks.

The first subject for novices is deciding which length and width of board to get. If the board, stood on end, comes only to your chin, it means it’s a short board. Since short boards are easier to maneuver, they are perfect for beginners and riders who want to perform fancy movements. Boards that come up to between the chin and the nose are considered medium and are used in snow parks and on steep slopes and uneven terrain. Long boards are those anywhere from as high as the eye to a few centimeters above the head and are preferred on big mountains and on long descents.

While board length is a matter of personal preference, board width depends on shoe size. When you have fastened the bindings and are standing in position, your boots should be even with the edge of the snowboard or just slightly wider. Otherwise, you will be unable to apply the pressure needed for making a turn. But if your shoes hang out too far over the edge of the board they will get stuck in the snow and cause you to veer to the side. 

Snowboarding falls into four styles or ‘rides’ depending on equipment and type of movement. Technical FreeStyle is used in halfpipes and snow-parks; FreeStyle is the best choice for people who want to do everything everywhere. FreeRide is the style used in every type of snow on every type of terrain but without a lot of jumping and leaping; and Alpine and FreeCarve are the names given to descents done more in steep places off the official ski runs.

You should learn a sport discipline by trying out the different rides in the presence of a qualified sports instructor. Nevertheless, we have a few tips for beginners. The first thing you will need to do is determine which leg you’re going to have in front and which in back on the board. There is a rule to remember: Your weight should always be on your front foot. Therefore your front leg will be slightly bent, your back leg straight. As you ride, your eyes should be fixed on the road in front of you, not on the place where you want to end up. To execute a turn, you should have your arms open wide and your upper body turned in the direction you want to go. To stop, use the turning movement, keeping your front leg straight and digging your foot into the snow as you turn.

Snowboarding is best done on powdery snow which makes it very similar to surfing on water. In Turkey, Palandöken in Erzurum and Sarıkamış at Kars stand out as venues that offer powdery snow throughout the season. Kartalkaya and Uludağ in Bursa, Erciyes at Kayseri, Ilgaz in Bolu, Kartepe in Kocaeli, Davras at Isparta and Saklıkent at Antalya are also made to order for snowboarding. The runs are packed down and readied for riding by snowmobiles. If you like, you can enjoy the freedom of riding off the runs, in the open forest in parks of your own creation. Provided, of course, that you don’t lose your way or run out of energy.

We would like to thank RedBull for its contribution.