Cross Training for Roller Derby: Snowboarding

After spending the last week on the slopes of the French Alps, i find myself even more in love with snowboarding than ever before. While I was out there I realised that this was the first time I had been snowboarding since I started playing roller derby and it immediately became obvious that the sport is a great way to cross train for roller derby.

Snowboarding was developed in the USA in the 1960s to 1970s. It was inspired by skateboarding, sledging, skiing and surfing and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998. It began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen invented a toy called the ‘snurfer’ for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. The snurfer became so popular among his daughter’s friends that Poppen licensed the idea to a manufacturer and began organizing competitions for poeple all over the USA.

During the ’60s and ’70s, skateboarder Tom Sims and surfer Dimitrije Milovich consequently invented the first snowboards using improved designs based on the original ‘snurfer’. It was, however, Jake Burton Carpenter who invented the first snowboards with bindings in 1977 and then founded Burton Snowboards that same year.

Jake Burton Carpenter

During the 1970s and 1980s as snowboarding became more popular, pioneers such as Chuck Barfoot and Mike Olson  also came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that slowly developed into the snowboards and other related equipment that we know today.

In 1982 the first National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont and the first World Championship halfpipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California in 1983. Snowboarding was recognised as an official sport in 1985 and the first ever World Cup was held in Zurs, Austria.  The International Snowboarding Federation was founded in 1990 to provide universal contest regulations and snowboarding has now become so popular that high-profile snowboarding events like the Winter X Games, Air & Style, US Open, Olympic Games and other events are broadcast worldwide.

Shawn White

While I was snowboarding last week, I realised very quickly that snowboarding uses all the same muscles as playing roller derby, especially as it involves maintaining a squat position much like derby position for the majority of the time. The quadriceps and hamstrings play a large part in snowboarding and maintaining that squatting position requires and trains strength and muscular endurance in these areas – perfect for roller derby.  And, similarly, the lower you are the better you balance will be.

As with roller skating, the hip and glute muscles are used to help you steer and carve so snowboarding is a great workout for these muscles as well. In fact, as with roller derby, the lower body does the majority of the work in snowboarding.  However, this doesn’t mean the upper body is neglected. As with skating the core provides the root of all stability in snowboarding so it is also a great one for core strengthening. Balance is a key part of snowboarding as well so it provides excellent proprioceptive training.  This is being able to sense the position, location, orientation and movement of the body and its parts, another vital aspect of all skating sports.
And, above all, it is awesome fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone.